A beneficiary from the Community of El Pato, Zaragoza, Antioquia. Caucasia, Antioquia, November 9, 2017. USAID-Oro Legal Activity. Partners: Beekeeping Associations, Mineros SA Foundation, Oleoductos of Colombia Foundation, Hacienda La Leyenda.
Photo Credit: Jorge Eliecer Martínez, USAID-Oro Legal Project.
One hundred and fifty single, women heads of household make up more than half of the beneficiaries of USAID's Legal Gold beekeeping activity in Antioquia, Colombia. Why is beekeeping in a gold mining project? Despite the commonly held view that everybody who is involved in gold mining is a millionaire, artisanal gold mining sustains tens of thousands of marginal families in Colombia. However, as the price of gold rises and mining activities become more intensive, miners at the lower echelons of the value chain, particularly women, find it ever harder to eke out a living; there is just not enough gold left for them to find. These same people lack another vital resource, land, and for that reason beekeeping provides an attractive economic alternative that allows women to undertake their multiple roles in the home and still make a decent living. They work tirelessly “like bees in a beehive” to make their apiaries a mainstay of the family economy. This initiative has been developed in five mining municipalities, providing almost 11,000 beehives for 300 families and producing 350 tons of honey a year; a number that will increase national honey production by 25%. Bees are dying off in record numbers throughout the world; Colombia is no exception. The project supports over 326 million bees roaming the region for nectar, pollinating plants and transforming the landscape. As an added bonus, the apiaries are installed on more than one thousand hectares of rehabilitated ex-mining land.