© German Larkin, courtesy of Guerlain
Launched in 2022 in collaboration with the Fundación Selva Maya and Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, this latest initiative in the Yucatán Peninsula supports beekeeping traditions among Mayan women and addresses threats to the endangered local bee species Melipona beecheii. Angelina Jolie, Guerlain muse since 2017 and Godmother of the Guerlain Women for Bees program, was on hand to help launch this new chapter.
Melipona beecheii is a stingless bee native to Central America and figures among the world’s most endangered bee species. As one of the primary pollinators of the Mayan forest ecosystem, the Melipona beecheii is vital for maintaining the balance of biodiversity in the region.
Beyond its role in nature, this rare bee is also an essential part of Mayan cultural heritage. Its honey is still used in the region to treat skin, eye, digestive, immunological and respiratory problems. The local beekeeping culture is linked directly to the time-honored know-how of Mayan women, passed on from one generation to the next. Due to the destruction of their natural environment, some 90% of Melipona colonies have been decimated in recent years.
Through Women for Bees, Guerlain continues its commitment to women’s empowerment and the preservation of bees through a multiyear initiative to train women beekeepers. The program has proved a compelling agent for change around the world, from France and Cambodia to Japan, Spain and Italy, and will soon be rolled out as well in Rwanda and China. The program is being conducted in close partnership with UNESCO and, more recently, through independent iterations led by local non-governmental organizations, including the Fundación Selva Maya in Mexico.