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“The Bees Seem Alive and Make a Great Buzzing”: Unsettling Homes in South-West Western Australia

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Bees, Science, and Sex in the Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature ((PSAAL))

Abstract

In 1830, Georgiana Molloy and her husband arrived on the shores of what came to be known as Augusta in south-west Western Australia. After a series of personal tragedies, Molloy began collecting seeds and specimens for British horticulturalist Captain James Mangles, an activity which precipitated her fascination with the flora of this area, which has since been deemed a biodiversity hotspot. This chapter articulates how Molloy’s obsession with Western Australia’s flora was founded upon the activities of pollinators such as native bees. It indicates that, although Molloy understood that European bees were attracted to particular plants, she did not observe similar relationships in her new surroundings, nor comprehend the long-standing relationships between First Nations peoples and bees. Such ignorance continues in Australian settler literature today, particularly in climate change fiction, which draws upon the European honeybee, rather than the Australian native bee, for metaphorical significance. Given recent research that indicates possible threats of the European honey bee to native bee populations, the chapter concludes that it is critical to reverse the trend of nineteenth-century ignorance of this insect and to value its relationships to Australia’s unique biodiversity.

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Notes

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White, J. (2024). “The Bees Seem Alive and Make a Great Buzzing”: Unsettling Homes in South-West Western Australia. In: Harley, A., Harrington, C. (eds) Bees, Science, and Sex in the Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century. Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-39570-3_6

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