Creative: Poems for Pollinators

Andrea Elena Noriega

Honoring Relationships and Companions
Andrea Elena Noriega is an Ottawa-based artist and Carleton University graduate with an MA in Applied Linguistics, and PhD (abd) in Anthropology specializing in food discourses related to health and wellness. Her artwork explores the relationships between people and non-human beings, with particular interest in the role of pollinators and food systems.

Artist’s Statement

We need to view creatures like bees not as objects (i.e., commodities and labourers) but as subjects (i.e., living beings).[1] Their status needs to be elevated from the caste system that privileges human beings over non-human animals. I believe that they, like other beings, should be regarded as persons, giving them rights that acknowledge their individuality and protect them from torture, illness, injury, enslavement, and death.

Indigenous teachings provide an epistemological framework for interspecies relationships, one that lateralizes the food system and provides reciprocity.[2] Non-human beings in the Euro-Westernized world are starting to be seen through anthropomorphism, allowing us to perceive the intrinsic commonalities of all living beings. This means seeing ‘nature’ as having the emergent potential[3] (a collective force) for sentience and consciousness.[4] It also means trying to understand the lived experiences of other beings, and affording them the empathy, compassion, and deference we aspire to show to other human beings.

Similarly, Indigenous ontologies offer highly progressive and advanced models for our daily attitudes and conduct toward other creatures. Implementing such an ethos within Euro-Western spaces of practice (such as farming and agriculture) can serve to enhance the overall outcomes of human actions, including improved yield, sustainability, diversity, and collective affect.[5]

Honey and Almonds

The banality of evil resides in the idiosyncratic,
it is, woefully, the little choices made.
The existence of one may take the existence of another,
but must that also entail an indentured servitude?”
With so many gifts from la Pachamama,
it seems, then, belligerent to steal, hoard, or take prisoner any of her iterations
Sweet honey, a gift
Nourishing almonds, a gift
Bees busily producing, an honor to all of nature,
not, indeed, an invitation to oppress and exploit
Entitlement to gifts, disposable commodities, transactional, and disposable, incites a banality that does give rise to evil, but also to complacency, willful ignorance, and a regime of husbandry that is not an inherent right.
Release the bees; let them give gifts, not sacrifices


watercolour painting of a bee inside a bell jar looking at a flowering branch and almonst
© Andrea Noriega


Honoring Relationships and Companions

Independent we fall, united, we . . . grow
Sturdy and reliable, I am corn
Nimble and giving, I am beans
Cool and protective, I am squash
A whisper from the wind, or visit from the Cucurbita bee brings new life
Together, entangled,
we bring to each other that which we cannot bring for ourselves alone.
We owe strength and resilience to the relationships we have
We flourish because of the championship, not in spite of it


painting of a bee hovering near a corn, squash, and bean plant growing together
© Andrea Noriega


Johnson, S. 2001. Emergence: The connected lives of ants, brains, cities, and software. New York: Scribner.

Kimmerer, R. 2013. Braiding Sweetgrass. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions.

Nimo, R. 2015. “The Bio-Politics of Bees: Industrial Farming and Colony Collapse Disorder.” Humanimalia 6(2).

Stewart, K. 2007. Ordinary Affects. Durham: Duke University Press.

Wohleben, P. 2015. The Hidden Life of Tress: What they feel, how they communicate—Discoveries from a secret world. Vancouver: Greystone Books.

  1. Nimo 2015.
  2. Kimmerer 2013.
  3. Johnson 2001.
  4. Wohleben 2015.
  5. Stewart 2007.


Creative: Poems for Pollinators Copyright © 2022 by Andrea Elena Noriega. All Rights Reserved.

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