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The Crops, People and Pollinators project

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Jenny Zhao.

Honeybees are frequently in the news. The pollination services they provide are a vital part of our global food production system, but under threat from climate change, intensification of agriculture, and landscape alterations. Bees, crops and people interrelate in a complex 3-way dynamic. We know very little about this dynamic in the past, but understanding these interrelationships would give an important perspective on current issues affecting honeybee populations. The Crops, People and Pollinators project is a 4-year project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This interdisciplinary project is studying the dynamic between humans, honeybees, and insect-pollinated plants in the past, using both archaeological and scientific methods. In this talk I will present what is known from the historical record about beekeeping and bee product usage in the past, and how chemical analysis of archaeological pottery can extend this knowledge. Were humans just interested in bees for their honey, or was their management also important from an early date to improve crop yield? I will show how archaeobotanical and genetic evidence of insect-pollinated crops across the Eurasian continent complements archaeological and historical evidence to trace the relationships between crops, pollinators and people from the dawn of agriculture.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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