Jacob von Uexkull


Anthropologists do not traditionally study bees (or insects, or any non-human for that matter). Our main research method is 'participant-observation', in which we take part in our research subjects' worlds as well as observing them. We aim to get the insider's point of view, and those insiders are normally other human beings.

How can an anthropologist enter the world of the bee? I don't think that we can. What we can do however, is find out what other humans who are interested in bees think about bees' worlds. I've noticed that many beekeepers pay attention to what they think the bees' experiential world is like, and they shape their beekeeping practice around this. I've even read a book in which a beekeeper said that sometimes she tries to imagine that she is a bee, in order to anticipate what her bees need.