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Chapter 3

Being Inspired


Honeybees are typically portrayed as “master pollinators.” Many affectionate campaigns to save the bees as well as more sober discussions of the indispensable role the managed colonies’ play in the agricultural industry and the global food security, share the idea that bees perform an ecological service without thought or passion: by default. Bosnian Muslim beekeepers, bee scientists, and bee-lovers, however, speak of honeybees as divinely inspired medicine-makers and describe their work as knowledgeable. What difference does it make the way we think of bees? How does a scientist handle divinely inspired beings? What draws an imam, a person trained in Islamic theology, to the bees? What sort of inspired science happens when an imam and a rising scientist share a household and an interest in the medical  uses of hive products?