When it comes to creating while always putting women at the forefront, Guerlain’s contribution go far beyond International Women’s Day. The Historic House continuously works to raise awareness around women empowerment and bees, as well as the broader environment.
Since it first launched in 2020, the Women for Bees Programme has been the key driver of a change for women beekeepers-in-training everywhere from France and Cambodia to Mexico, Japan and Italy in close partnership with Unesco and as of this year, referential local NGOs.
Angelina Jolie, a Guerlain Muse since 2017 and Godmother of Guerlain Women for Bees Programme, traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula to launch a new multi-year training and conservation initiative in collaboration with the Fundación Selva Maya (FSM), a non-profit organization committed to protecting the Melipona beecheii, the sacred bees of the ancient Maya civilization. In 2023, Guerlain launched the Women for Bees in Mexico in collaboration with the Fundacion Selva Maya and Belmond Maroma.
The year on year evolution of this work continues now as Angelina Jolie inaugurates a new phase of the Women for Bees Programme in Mexico to support beekeeping traditions among Mayan women and address dangers to the Melipona bee population with Guerlain in Collaboration with the foundation Selva Maya and Belmond Maroma. Guerlain and Angelina Jolie traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula in February to kick off a new multi-year training and conservation initiative with the Fundación Selva Maya (FSM), a non profit organisation committed to protecting beecheii, the sacred bees of the ancient Maya civilization.
These stingless bees are endemic to Central America and are among its most endangered. As one of the primary pollinators of the Mayan Forest Ecosystem, the native Mayan Melipona beecheii is also crucial for maintaining the balance of biodiversity in the region.
Beyond its role in the natural world, this rare Melipona bee is a pillar of Mayan ecological and cultural heritage. Its honey, harvested by syringe because of the delicacy of the hives, is still used in the region to treat skin, eye, digestive, immunological, and respiratory problems. The Melipona beecheii bee culture that has historically existed within Mayan communities is the result of a unique and traditional savoir-faire among Mayan women, passed on from one generation to another.
But today, these native bees are threatened with extinction — 90% of Melipona colonies have already been decimated due to the destruction of the tropical forests of the Yucatan Peninsula, their natural environment. By extension, this puts Mayan women and their traditions at great risk. In this part of the world, deforestation is intensified by human pressure: urbanization and non-sustainable agriculture, cattle breeding, timber exploitation and forest fires. This is catastrophic if one considers how essential forests are for native bees as a source of food and habitat. Climate change, which disrupts seasons, temperatures, rainfall and impacts on flowering, is also contributing to the weak- ening of endemic tropical biodiversity.
It is for this reason that Guerlain decided to support the FSM’s Melipona Project and empower Mayan women to be agents of change for the preservation of Melipona bees and the traditions that they have fostered.
To do so, Guerlain, in partnership with the Fundación Selva Maya and Belmond Maroma, inaugurated a pilot group of local women beekeeping instructors in the Santa Clara community to reinforce the historic tradition and knowledge of conservation that can be carried on by future generations. Angelina Jolie participated in a two-day field visit which included a Bee School beekeeping session and a trip to the FSM Reserve in the Akumal jungle.
Over the course of the next two years, the programme seeks to reintroduce the Melipona beecheii bees to Mayan villages and the broader ecosystem and assist Mayan women generate resources and become self-sufficient to build an expertise-driven sustainable professional activity.
This dedication to women’s empowerment through the Women for Bee’s programme will continue throughout 2023 and the years to come with other beekeeper trainings for women in Rwanda, China and beyond.
Today, on this International Women’s Day, Guerlain invites you to take a look back at three years of concrete action to empower women through education and training on bees- their welfare, conservation and repopulation and expertise driven sustainable professional activity that has resulted from the experience.
To view the film and see portraits of some of the incredible women around the world who have been part of the magnificent Womens for Bees journey please visit here.