University of Cambridge > > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > The Frustrating Geography of Bees in Chinese History

The Frustrating Geography of Bees in Chinese History

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In comparison to Europe and the Middle East, for example, bees, beekeeping and bee products have had a relatively low profile in Chinese history. They were all present in texts by the early imperial period, and knowledge about bees and beekeeping would grow, but they did not make the same mark in China as they did in some other cultures. While there is a good deal of scholarly and scientific interest in bees in contemporary China, there has been less research into bees in China’s past. This paper will seek to describe some of the textual evidence from Chinese history for human interaction with bees and human use of bee products, focusing mainly on the nature of this evidence and its geographical distribution. It will show that the evidence before about the tenth century is patchy, and while bees and bee products are often mentioned in texts from the tenth century onward, the evidence is frequently tantalising, but there tends to be not enough of it to paint a more certain picture of the understanding and use of bee products across China in the pre-modern period.

This talk is part of the Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series series.

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