Mother-of-five Celia began keeping bees in 1999 and now has 25 hives. She is a member of Apicoop, the Chilean co-operative that supplies Traidcraft with honey. It was serving on the board of Apicoop which helped to convince Celia of her own potential, as she explained.
"As well as developing myself as a person, being a member of the board has given me a chance to develop professionally. Now I realise I am capable of other things and have developed other interests," she said.
"That’s one of the reasons I was motivated to finish high school. I attended night school every day of the week from 6pm to 10.30pm in our nearby town. I wanted to do it because otherwise there wasn’t a strong motivation for my own children to finish high school."
I would not even have dreamt about it
As well as providing her children with a good role model, Celia has also worked hard to develop further skills. Now she has received university training through Apicoop and works in the co-op’s new laboratory two days a week.
"I am responsible for making the analysis and feeding it back to the lab technicians," she said.
"Before keeping bees, I had no expectations that any of this was possible. I would not even have dreamt about it. I thought bees were boring, but now? No way!"
"For the future, my dream would be for all my children to finish high school. I hope that they will study further. Because of this, I’m trying to find ways to increase my beehives. That will be my source of money in case any of my kids want to go to university and then I can support them."
"With the money from selling honey through Traidcraft we have been able to achieve many things that maybe, from your point of view, would not be considered important, but for us it has meant development."
Apicoop sells honey for its 120 members in the eastern region of Valdivia, and for about 500 other beekeepers elsewhere in the country. All export sales are to fair trade organisations. Honey from Apicoop is used in our Geobars.
Beekeepers for Apicoop talk freely about the huge difference fair trade benefits have made to their lives. They have access to low-interest loan schemes, and the opportunity to share resources and experience to develop their honey-producing capacity and increase their standard of living.