Angelina Jolie is the ‘godmother’ to Women for Bees & she’s a bee activist nowMay 20, 2021
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Angelina Jolie cares about so many things: refugees, women’s rights, food insecurity, violence against women, children’s rights, immigration and like a million other things. We can add one more thing to that list: bees. Jolie cares about the preservation of bees. Jolie is partnering with UNESCO as part of her Guerlain contract to protect the bees. She posed for a bee-covered photo for National Geographic, and she gave an interview which came out on World Bee Day to highlight her new issue.
Why she posed for the photo: Angelina Jolie posed for a striking portrait for National Geographic to draw attention on World Bee Day to the urgent need to protect bees—and to a UNESCO-Guerlain program that trains women as beekeeper-entrepreneurs and protectors of native bee habitats around the world. Photographer Dan Winters, an amateur beekeeper, drew his inspiration from a famous 1981 Richard Avedon portrait of a bald California beekeeper, whose naked torso was covered in bees.
Why bees? “With so much we are worried about around the world and so many people feeling overwhelmed with bad news, this is one [problem] that we can manage.” Three out of every four leading food crops for human consumption—and more than a third of agricultural land worldwide—depend in part on pollinators, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. It’s not just fruits, nuts, and vegetables; bees also pollinate alfalfa consumed by cows and crops used for clothing and medicines. Honeybees alone enable an estimated $20 billion in U.S. crop production, according to the American Beekeeping Federation; pollinators support well over $200 billion in food production worldwide.
Bee Godmother: Jolie was recently named “godmother” for Women for Bees, a five-year program launched by UNESCO, the UN’s educational, scientific, and cultural arm, and Guerlain, the French cosmetics house. Guerlain says it has contributed $2 million to train and support 50 women beekeeper-entrepreneurs in 25 UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves around the world. The women are expected to build 2,500 native beehives by 2025, safeguarding 125 million bees, according to Guerlain. Women from Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, France, Russia, Rwanda, and Slovenia will be trained this year, with others from Peru, Indonesia, and more joining in 2022.
She’s working with bees now: In June, Jolie will join the first 10 Women for Bees to take part in an accelerated 30-day training led by experts at the French Observatory of Apidology in Provence, where she plans to get trained in beekeeping as well.
Her beekeeping work in Cambodia: “Looking at the environment and livelihoods. We’ve had a lot of poachers become rangers who work with us, and they’ve done a lot to stop logging and protect the animals where they can. And there’s a lot of gathering of wild honey in Cambodia. It’s very important that you don’t just go into a country and say, “No infrastructure, no roads, no progress, no nothing, we’re going to keep this special area and preserve it.” We do need to do that, but in order to really do that in a way that’s sustainable, we have to find ways that the people living within those communities are thriving and connected to this natural environment.
Whether she will have hives at home: “I have a lot of wildflowers and my bees are very, very happy. Yes, we’re trying to figure out where we would put the hives. I think I have to do them on the roof. There are two types of bees. This is to all you women: wild and solitary or domestic and honeybee. Take a choice. The domestic honeybee is the one that makes the honey and then there’s this other bee, that’s the wild solitary bee that lives a very different life and does not make honey but pollinates. I feel like lately I’ve been a lot of domestic honeybee, but in my heart, I’m wild solitary.”
I used to not give a sh-t about bees but watching Elementary made me really interested in beekeeping (Sherlock keeps hives on that show). I think it would be so cool to have some hives. Oh wait I just realized that Elementary starred Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock and JLM is Jolie’s ex-husband! That is so weird! Anyway, I love that she’s getting involved and I can’t wait to hear about her beekeeping skills. These programs sound really awesome.
Additional photos courtesy of Backgrid.
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