My name is Marina Muscolo. I’m a great lover of Nature, with which I have a strong spiritual connection. This prompted me to study Agronomy, and my profession led me to travel throughout the Argentine countryside for many years. This is how I came across many rural families, and realized that their women needed both an occupation and a source of income. Over the years this idea slowly took shape, and in 2016 I thought that beekeeping might be the answer.
It sounded right because it satisfied several requirements: it does not require much space (women don’t own the land where they live), honey has a long shelf life (no storage problems), and bees help pollinate crops and plants in the nearby fields. So it not only benefitted rural women, but adjoining landowners as well. A win-win situation.
I had an idea, but I also had a million doubts! After much agonizing about this, I realized that in the first place I had to try beekeeping myself. I started with four hives, eager to learn, and soon found out that bees quickly engulfed me. The beekeeping world became an impossible-to-get-out-of black hole – it is such a fascinating world!!
Billions of bees roam every inch of the planet bringing their secrets. They are like nature fairies. Observing them is simply magic.
I soon realized that this was an ideal job for women – just some details needed adjusting, like downsizing box size so there would be no heavy lifting involved. I also learned that it could be a part-time project, perfectly compatible with other jobs and activities. Finally, I realized that the possible impact was much greater than just an extra income for rural families. There was a treasure trove of knowledge to be shared. We could learn a lot from bees, those great sensors of the environment and Nature. They have so much to teach us, so much to transmit to us!!
So far, so good, but now what? How to encourage other women? I started talking about the project, and sharing this idea wherever I could. During the first year two women joined me. I gave each one an beekeeper’s kit and some hives. We periodically reviewed the hives together, and I shared everything I’d learned. We did the first harvest together; and found that sharing the experience was very gratifying.
It dawned on me that, like bees, we had to become a community. I had to start a chain of favors in which the new member receiving the beekeeper’s kit had the opportunity to pass it on, along with her first year’s production, to another rural woman eager to start. In this way, the kit was passed from hand to hand and other women beekeepers joined the group. The initiative also grew throughout Buenos Aires Province. We got together for one-on-one training, to form buying and selling pools, and to get financing.
Our community grows through shared values such as solidarity, collaboration, and environmental awareness. Women from different backgrounds started joining the community, beekeeping, selling honey, spreading the story, sharing it on their networks, and consuming our honey.
So in 2020 we switched to virtual training. This is how we went from 90 women in one-on-one training to 300 women in all Argentine provinces. And in 2021 we are already more than 1000 women in these trainings, not only from Argentina but also from 17 other countries.
Each woman brings her own story, her own world. We share our love of nature, and of bees. So we help each other by sharing, and joining forces to empower ourselves, and go further.