Bee keeping is no longer a ‘men’s only’ profession in Azerbaijan
Old Khudat is a village in northern Azerbaijan
Parvana is a primary school and Lezgi language (the language of the national minority living here) teacher. About a year ago she began beekeeping. For her, this work is new, although she grew up in a family of beekeepers.
In Azerbaijan, this profession is considered unusual for a woman. Nevertheless, in recent years, more and more stories are coming out about female beekeepers in the Azerbaijani media.
“There is no income yet, since the hive is still ‘new’, and the bees are not making honey yet,” says Parvana.
“There should be as many hive boxes as possible. A bee swarm taken from a tree is brought here. But the hive should be large enough and comfortable. If the bees don’t like it there, they will fly away.
The taste and color of honey depends on what the bees eat. For example, from walnut flowers, the honey turns brown. But for many customers, this color is unusual, because they are used to taking lighter shades of honey.
“Smoke is needed so that the bees do not become aggressive. The costume itself does not give a full guarantee of protection.
“If you’re stung, one of the ways to relieve pain is vodka. Bee venom constricts blood vessels, and alcohol expands it.”
Parvana is sometimes helped by her husband at work, for example, by feeding the bees. Despite being allergic to bee stings – not so long ago, he was hospitalized with a severe allergic reaction.
Parvana has her own unique way of checking the quality of honey. The fact is that she does not like real honey. And if she feels slightly ill from its smell, then she knows: the honey is real.
Parvana started her business with the support of the recently opened Women’s Resource Center in Qusar (a project of UNDP and other international organizations).
Practically every “gender” project in Azerbaijan includes a programme to support women’s entrepreneurship. Private businesses and a steady income allow women to end financial dependence on men, characteristic of a patriarchal society.