A Social Ecology of Stingless Bees

Natasha Fijn*, Marcus Baynes-Rock

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Here we highlight two ontologically different modes of care and management of endemic stingless bees in Australia. While Indigenous Yolngu and backyard beekeepers both engage in caring for stingless bees, neither way of living with bees would classically be defined as ‘domestication’, yet bees are encompassed within the ‘home’, or domus. This requires a different perspective in relation to the kinds of multispecies connections between humans and other beings. We propose that the key difference between Aboriginal Australians hunting for sugarbag on country and beekeeping in the backyard is in the way bee populations are maintained and in the degree of ecological separation from the surrounding environment. For Yolngu the domus is the bush. Backyard beekeeping involves modes of care that separate bees from outside predators, pests and other detrimental elements, while the Yolngu relationship with bees is primarily concerned with maintaining the integrity of the surrounding ecology, or the homeland.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)207-216
    Number of pages10
    JournalHuman Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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