I am pleased to report that the Media Ecology Association has accepted my panel proposal "Beyond the Keep: A Preliminary Critique of Modern Beekeeping" for presentation at the Eighteenth Annual Convention. The convention is slated for June 22-25 at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga Valley, just east of San Francisco. Abstract of my presentation below.
Beyond The Keep: A Preliminary Critique of Modern Beekeeping
A recent major newspaper headline reads: “as bee populations dwindle, robot bees may pick up some of their pollination slack.” Referring to the crisis in modern beekeeping known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this headline is an example of the culminating functionalist paradigm. In response to massive colony loss worldwide, modern beekeeping has sought solutions in treatment, medicines, and technology. The logical conclusion of this paradigm is the robot bee, a technological apparatus that completely prioritizes the bee’s function as a pollinator over its existence as a species. While the total ramifications of such a functionalist paradigm are vast and abstract, we can begin to assess the consequences through individual media. Beekeeping is one such locus. In this presentation I will trace the internal logic of modern beekeeping back to its linguistic origin. In essence, the spirit of beekeeping is dying with the bees. Technological solutions represent spiritual nihilism in relation to the honeybee in particular, and if we are able to understand how beekeeping has evolved to the point of advocating eliminating bees, perhaps we can begin to understand a more complex ecological danger. The response to such a danger must adequately balance technology, spirituality, and ecology. This is no small task, and in order to begin the process we must move outside of the dominant paradigm—we must move beyond the keep.