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Accepted Paper:

Locating Extremaduran Beehives – Resilience and Relative Value of Transhumant Beekeeping in Southwestern Spain  
Viljami Kankaanpää-Kukkonen (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

Resilience of beekeeping in southwestern Spain is based on the practice of transhumance and the relative value of different beehive locations around Spain. This livelihood is however threatened by climate change, invasive parasites and the intensive practices of modern beekeeping.

Paper long abstract:

Beekeeping in Extremadura, Spain differs from beekeeping in other parts of Europe by its sheer industrial scale and the practice of transhumance. Like many rural livelihoods, transhumant beekeeping in Spain is being threatened by climate change, and more particularly invasive parasitic mite Varroa destructor.

This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork in a small rural village of Fuenlabrada de los Montes in Extremadura, home to one of the largest communities of beekeepers in Europe. Although the village is small, it functions as a central hub in a vast network of beehive sites located all around South-Western Spain. Every year tens of thousands of hives are transported between these different locations in search of best blooms and favourable conditions. This paper demonstrates how the resilience of transhumant beekeeping is tied to the shifting relative value of these locations where beehives are being kept, and how this value is determined by numerous distinct logics, whether ecological, economic, bureaucratic or social.

In recent years the effects of climate change and erratic weather, combined with the effects of intensifying modern beekeeping practices, have made the problem of Varroa destructor significantly worse for Extremaduran beekeepers. The resilience of transhumance is being threatened by the spatially homogenizing effect of omnipresence of Varroa in all parts of Spain. Where do you go when location stops making a difference? Are there ways forward where humans, bees and mites could cohabit in Extremadura without destroying the livelihoods of beekeepers?

Panel P138b
Re-thinking resilience through more-than-human entanglements
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -