For most people, a bee is just a striped little bug that pollinates our world and gives us honey. For many, the sight of a bee might elicit fear and the desire to run away. For beekeepers who have a front-row view of the day-to-day lives of bees, however, bees are so much more. They are wondrous and intelligent societies of tiny creatures that play a significant role in supporting our own communities.
This is what we learned from beekeeper Jemal when we visited his home in rural western Georgia. Jemal is part of a small town known as Ghorjomi, which has depended on agriculture for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, due to the rapidly changing environment and harmful activities like deforestation, continuing his way of life has become more and more difficult. Because of this, many of Jemal’s neighbors have chosen to migrate to different cities to find employment.
Like his neighbors, Jemal was worried about what the longer winters and drier summers would mean for him and his family. Thankfully, when he was connected to CWS through our local partner RCDA, Jemal received hives full of buzzing new friends that became his solution. Jemal’s past experience in beekeeping, and the additional training he received through the program, has made him an excellent and passionate beekeeper.
Beekeeping is an ideal practice for someone like Jemal because it’s much cheaper than caring for livestock and can resist the effects of climate change. By selling the honey from his hives, Jemal has been able to bridge the gap in his agriculture-based income. He explained, “we just need a very small amount of help to be able to stay here and not have to leave to find work elsewhere.”
While Jemal talked about his bees, he glowed with excitement. He told us that he loves to observe the behaviors of the hives and finds it interesting that they “have their own laws and regulations.” He added, “it’s difficult to explain, but these are natural creatures that give us both spiritual and economic support.”
During our conversation, a mini Jemal, his son, remained glued to his dad. Jemal told us that they have a good friendship and that he hopes to pass on the practice of beekeeping to his son one day. He shared, “one who knows how to look after bees will never quit. It’s a life-long devotion.” Thanks to this life-long support, Jemal and his family can look to the future with peace, knowing that his family can stay in their beloved home for as long as they’d like.