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Working Bees to Death

Sainath Suryanarayanan

Sainath Suryanarayanan, PhD presenting at Science Pub RVA April 9, 2018 (Photography of Phillip Snyder of the Richmond Camera Club)

Over a decade since the news of Colony Collapse Disorder hit the United States, many beekeepers and honey bees continue to struggle. Dr. Suryanarayanan, Assistant Scientist in the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke at a Science Pub in Richmond, VA and  discussed how the “new normal” of honey bee deaths was shaped by historically established relationships of power and expertise between beekeepers, entomologists, growers, agrochemical corporations and governmental agencies.

Dr. Sainath Suryanarayanan has a background in social insect biology and science & technology studies. Sai’s current interdisciplinary scholarship sits at the juncture of environment, biology and society. His research explores how knowledge and power shape stakeholders’ understandings and responses to complex environmental problems. Using historically grounded social scientific approaches, Sai is investigating: (1) biomedical cultures of translational science; (2) indigenous health concerns in Wisconsin; (3) intersections between health systems and underserved populations at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Wisconsin; (4) bee cultures; (5) inter-species resistance and decolonial resurgence in Latin American agri-cultures; (6) epistemological and ontological politics of social insect genomics; and (7) notions of environmental complexity. Dr. Suryanarayan co-authored “Vanishing Bees” with Daniel Lee Kleinman and teaches at the Nelson Institute's Center for Culture, History, and Environment at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Dr. Karen Rader, Director of VCU’s Science, Technology and Science Program and Dr. Sainath Suryanarayanan (Photography of Phillip Snyder of the Richmond Camera Club)
This program was held April 9, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia and is a part of a series of eight science cafes in partnership between Science Pub RVA and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Science, Technology and Society Program, a unit of the College of Humanities and Sciences, and is supported by a National Science Foundation grant (#1611953).

Pub is in our name but sipping on a glass of water is completely copacetic. Our focus is more about enjoying the night’s topic and each other and less about whatever liquids are in hand. Whatever is in SciPubbers glasses, we raise our glasses and say “cheers” at the start of the program.

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More photos from this event can be found here.

Science Pub RVA is a program of Science Matters and the Community Idea Stations, central Virginia's PBS & NPR stations. Sign up for email announcements of future pubs and follow Science Pub RVA on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.

Related WCVE Radio Stories:What’s Bugging You: Saving the BeesQuestion Your World:  Why are Bees an Endangered Species?Question Your World:  When Did We Start Using Bees?

Related PBS Science Education Resources:NOVA’swhere you can learn about bee anatomy, their special dances, and read an interview where the filmmaker explains how they captured the intimate lives of busy bees.PBS Learning Media: The Bounty of Bees

Related NPR and PBS News Reports:NPR: Honeybees Seem to Understand The Notion of ZeroPBS NewsHour:  Neonicotinoid Pesticides are Slowly Killing Bees