WE ARE CELEBRATING WORLD BEE DAY!Published: May 20, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” - Albert Einstein.
Hard to believe, but this is what Gayane and her team bear in mind every day while dealing with bees. On World Bee Day (May 20), we talked to Gayane, the founder of the BeeLife workshop. She hangs this quote on the front wall of the workshop, thus bringing everybody’s attention to the importance of bees. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are 100 crop species that provide 90% of food around the world and 71 of these species are pollinated by bees.
Gayane finds her calling in the world of bees
A linguist by profession, but an all-time explorer by heart, Gayane found her peace and harmony in the world of bees. She started everything from scratch having nothing but a small metal coffeepot for making candles from beeswax. The coffeepot is still in the workshop, in a very prominent place, highlighting the path that Gayane went through to achieve what she has today.
BeeLife is a social business. It was established in Spitak, Armenia. When starting out, Gayane had no idea what her business would become, she just wanted to make candles from beeswax. However, as she explored deeper, she realized there was much more to know. Lack of information about how to do beekeeping, and failure to deal with bees and bee diseases correctly resulted in various financial difficulties when starting out. To make matters worse, she had bought her initial beehives on loan and their loss made it harder. It was then, that she promised herself to do more.
“I knew that it required a lot of effort to become educated in this field and I promised myself to become good at it and help others, mostly young women so that they could make steps in this field. As a social initiative, we aim to develop beekeeping in our region, to make innovations in this field, not to have bee family losses, and to preserve bees.”
Currently, the creation of bee products forms the main part of their work. They produce honey, royal jelly, pollen extract, candles made from beeswax, and more. In addition, to raise awareness of beekeeping, Gayane and her team provide training courses that were rather uncommon in the region a few years ago. The most interesting and innovative part of their work is Apitourism, also known as bee tourism. This is quite a new branch of tourism in Armenia, but very promising, according to Gayane. They give people tours around the workshop and teach them about the beekeeping process, bee life in the beehives, and the recycling of beeswax correctly. They also engage the trainees in many of these processes themselves so that they can put their newly gained skills into practice.
Bee products are known for their medical significance and they help cure a lot of common ailments. BeeLife stays true to this idea, so in addition to providing bee products, they also provide natural inhalation services. People come here to experience these inhalation processes through the beehive air. This prevents a lot of allergic diseases and is quite a new service in Armenia.
Gayane found her peace in beekeeping. She realizes the importance of her work and tells us: "After working with bees, people understand how important they are for the well-being of humankind as the main pollinators and try not to harm bees even when they slip inside the house and sit on jam. It is not a mere work, it is a pleasure to work with bees, understand their world and take responsibility for them as a human being. By preserving bees, we preserve ourselves and the earth itself," states Gayane.
At People in Need, we place great emphasis on promoting local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to enhance their capacities for tourist services. BeeLife was part of our "Transcaucasian Trail – Promoting Cross-Border Tourism" project. Funding for this project came from USAID Economic Development, Governance, and Enterprise Growth (EDGE) project. The project was run by PIN Georgia in partnership with PIN Armenia and various Transcaucasian Trail NGOs in both Georgia and Armenia.