Launching our brand new women-run beekeeping site!
Our beekeeping communities are at the heart of what we do at ‘Bees with Stories’. Beekeeping is a valuable small-scale practice with many benefits: it contributes to biodiversity conservation, enhances food production and hence increases food security, and, when practiced commercially, generates income for the beekeepers. Since we work exclusively in African countries, our beekeeping activities provide all these benefits to African communities.
While beekeeping plays a critical role in elevating the rural communities in which we work, the benefits are mostly reaped by men. This is because the apiculture value chain is mostly run by men. The reasons are well-known; traditional hives are hung in tall trees and require tree climbing, a taboo for women in addition to being dangerous. The introduction of modern beehives and beekeeping techniques can have a radical impact on the economic empowerment and the social inclusion of women through a substantial increase in revenue from honey harvesting. Modern hives are on the ground; that single factor plays a pivotal role in giving access to an income-generating activity to women.
In Mauritius, the situation is very different. For one, beekeeping is not a common practice on the island. However, despite the type of beekeeping practiced being modern and, as such, more accessible to women, it still remains a male-dominated activity. Steep start-up costs, lack of land and awareness are some of the reasons for this participation gap.
We, at BwS, decided to change that. Being a social enterprise set on helping people improve their quality of life, we recently launched our very first beekeeping site in Mauritius, specifically targeting beneficiaries who had lost their livelihoods to the 2020 Wakashio Oil Spill. We provided beehives, tools and training to 10 women, who had started a community farm after losing their jobs in the fishing sector. By training them to become beekeepers, they are engaging in an activity that will generate an additional income as well as boost their own food production.
We are taking baby steps to make beekeeping more inclusive for women in Mauritius. We hope others will join as we progress and we stand ready to support them when they do.