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Beekeeping Beyond Gender: The Growing Role of Women in Sustainable Apiculture

women beekeeping

The world of apiculture, or beekeeping, has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.

However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend of women taking on prominent roles in sustainable apiculture. This shift is not only empowering women but is also contributing to the growth and sustainability of the industry.

One of the main reasons for the growing number of women in apiculture is the fact that beekeeping can be done from home or in small groups, making it a flexible and accessible way to earn an income. In many countries, women face significant barriers to employment, particularly in rural areas where job opportunities are limited. Beekeeping can provide women with a viable alternative to traditional forms of employment and allow them to work from home while caring for their families.

Moreover, women are particularly well-suited to beekeeping, as the job requires attention to detail, patience, and a nurturing approach. Many women are drawn to beekeeping because of the strong connection it fosters between people and nature, and the role it plays in promoting sustainability.

Another reason for the growing trend of women in sustainable apiculture is the increased awareness of the important role bees play in pollination and the environment. As bees continue to face numerous threats, including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and climate change, there is a growing need for sustainable beekeeping practices that support the health of bee populations.

Finally, women in apiculture are also contributing to the growth and sustainability of the industry by developing innovative and sustainable products. For example, women-led businesses are developing beeswax-based skincare products, honey-based culinary products, and beeswax candles. These products not only provide consumers with high-quality, sustainable products but also support the local economy and help to promote sustainable agriculture practices.

Examples of women success stories in beekeeping:

Elizaveta Mămăliga, beekeeper from Todirești village in Moldova

After her studies, Liza pursued a different path and applied for a scholarship in Germany. Her childhood memories of bees inspired her to start a small family business. Today, she manages 80 beehives and produces popular natural nutritional bars, propolis tincture, beeswax candles, and herbal teas for the European Union market.

“It was in 2012. At that time, you would see only older men at the beekeepers’ meetings or fairs. No one would take you seriously. I was young and I was a beekeeper. They thought I had bought the honey and that I was trying to sell it, but their lack of trust motivated me even more to continue learning. I want to bring beekeeping to an even higher level and to have more young people involved in this kind of work. I want us to develop new product ideas, to bring money into the local economy, to create jobs, to do the work we like. Bees, as we know, are very important for biodiversity, for pollination, for organic farming. We want everything we do to have a positive impact, we don’t want to make any compromises that would harm the environment.” - Elizaveta Mămăliga (1)

Josephine Arokiya Mary, beekeeper & CEO of Vibis Natural Bee Farming in India

Mary has transformed her life after facing personal tragedies. Through her enterprise, Vibis Natural Bee Farming, she sells 25 varieties of honey with unique flavors and has expanded her market to 23 districts in Tamil Nadu. Mary's successful venture earns her over Rs 1 lakh per month, with an impressive annual turnover of Rs 3 crore. She not only provides employment to over 50 people but also helps 400 women establish their own bee farms. Additionally, Mary plays a crucial role in training over 50,000 individuals in bee harvesting and raising awareness about the importance of preserving bees.

"The pollination of bees happens only in the evening, post 7 pm, and work lasts for almost 3 hours. I used to get back home by 10.30-11 pm, and people used to talk. They would say, ‘look a widow is coming back so late at night' - Josephine Arokiya Mary (2)

Hilary Kearney, founder of Girl Next Door Honey

In 2012, Kearney pursued her passion for beekeeping and launched her own company. Fascinated by bee behavior, she embraced the opportunity to continuously learn about these complex creatures. What makes Girl Next Door Honey unique is that Kearney's profits don't rely on honey sales. Instead, her business focuses on connecting people with bees, starting with placing hives in other people's backyards.

“Girl Next Door Honey is an education-based bee business.I teach beekeeping classes, create educational tools, visit schools, host apiary tours, rescue wild bee colonies, and I have written two books. If you can get yourself to take just one step, that will get you excited to take the next one.” - Hilary Kearney (3)

Paramvir Kaur, beekeeper in Bathinda village in India

Paramvir Kaur, a determined and progressive farm woman from village Bhunder, Bathinda district, has defied challenges faced by small farmers by venturing into beekeeping. With the support of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, she received training and embarked on her journey as a successful beekeeper. Despite limited resources and educational background, Paramvir's dedication led her to expand her enterprise from 4 hives to an impressive 150 hives. Her locally consumed, high-quality honey is sold without any brand, earning her over one lakh per annum. Through her achievements, Paramvir inspires others in her village to become self-employed and self-reliant. Her story stands as a testament to the power of determination and women's empowerment. (4)

In conclusion, the growing role of women in sustainable apiculture is a positive trend that benefits both the industry and the environment. Women are bringing new perspectives, practices, and products to the industry and are helping to create a more sustainable and equitable industry that benefits everyone. With continued support and investment, women in sustainable apiculture will continue to play an essential role in shaping the future of beekeeping.




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