17 Ellie Andrews – The Sociology of Pollinator Health


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Ellie Andrews is a PhD student in Development/Rural Sociology at Cornell University. As honey bees across the US face a range of challenges, keeping bees healthy and productive requires ever more skill and investment. Her research seeks to understand the sociological dimensions of these educational imperatives: how are new beekeepers learning to keep bees and how are experienced ones adapting to new challenges?

Ellie is interested in how people evaluate and use different sources of information about beekeeping, how the motivation to “save the bees” informs beekeepers’ management decisions and colony survival, and how individuals’ approach to “sustainable beekeeping” may change as they gain experience and expertise. Her research is based on interviewing beekeepers across New York State and beyond, observing beekeeping clubs and classes (including serving as an officer in her own club), helping put together Cornell’s new and improved Master Beekeeping program, and going into the archives to research the origins of beekeeping extension programs and the professionalization of beekeeping over the last century.

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“In 2008, people started answering the survey saying they were keeping bees in order to save them.” – Ellie Andrews

Show Notes:

  • How Ellie became interested in the intersection of bee keeping and sociology
  • What rural resilience means
  • How bee keeping as a social activity can become more robust
  • Why more people are doing bee keeping now in order to “save the bees”
  • What sustainable bee keeping means for different people
  • How people are learning about bee keeping
  • The role of bee clubs and how they are doing
  • Why lots of bee clubs are experiencing a revitalization
  • The enormous surge in bee keeping around WWI and WWII and what that can teach us

“There’s no consensus on what sustainability means for bees, for agriculture more broadly, and natural resource management beyond that.” – Ellie Andrews

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