It wasn’t long ago that women were excluded from honey making altogether.
‘Traditionally it was the men of the village who produced honey, and we women were excluded. TREE AID approached women in the village, and showed them that they could also produce honey.’ Said Suzanne, who is president of the Women's Forest Group for Women's Forest Livelihoods project.
‘Honey used to be harvested from high up in tall trees, the tree would be set on fire to scare off the bees, and the collecting was done in the middle of the night in darkness! This made it very dangerous, and with this way of getting honey it was difficult for the women of the village to take part.’
Suzanne thinks for a moment before continuing ‘It makes me feel very happy, as something that was not possible is now possible. We would just stand by and watch as the men got the honey, now we have better knowledge and can get our own. The honey is good quality, and even if we make a smaller amount people will always buy. Previously, people would not try honey for 10 years! Now we have it all of the time, so people in the community are very happy.’
Part of the money the women’s group make from honey is invested in the business to improve the equipment, up-skill the members and to make more hives. The rest is split between the members and is used for essentials such as food, medicine, clothing and education.
The hives are nestled in an area of forest that the women’s group is protecting and nurturing, so as well as reducing poverty, the forest is being cared for, and the bees help to pollinate the trees which in turn can help to re-green the forest. In some ways, this epitomises TREE AID’s holistic approach to fighting poverty.
To find out more about TREE AID and the work they do visit https://www.treeaid.org.uk