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Just Sit Down And Suit Up


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Some of the women’s English class notes from the program.

This is a story I understand both completely and… not really at all.  It goes against my principles to tell it…but also to keep it quiet. It was just too weird but also just another chapter in the hundreds of stories of the complex intersecting worlds of villages and local bully politics. And funnily enough, my team and I keep driving right into that intersection, stopping our car, and bracing ourselves at the sounds of a thousand passive aggressive honks.

Where to begin? (more…)

Sometimes Learning Really Stings: Lessons of Honey and Development


We were able to move a swarm of new bees into the new hives, but we did not open any of the others.

Today I made a mistake. It was the kind that results in puffy eyes, howling, deep stings, and lies. Now a good six miles walk away from the mistake, I am tempted to keep it to myself, to tuck it away, even to use it as an excuse to give up. But then it would really be a mistake. Instead, I am posting it on the blog and turning it into a lesson, because at the end of the day, inspiration and success isn’t always coated with sugar. In fact, like good honey, we benefit the most from our experiences when they are served without any added sweeteners. (more…)

The village is your salad bowl: daily life from Yalinkoy


This is Gizem. She is approximately 7-years-old and my new photographer. During my several day stay with Ayse the beekeeper of Yalinkoy, I gave Ayse’s niece Gizem my camera and let her have at it. She took a few of the photos below… (more…)

Bees, Tea, Dessert…Bees, Tea, Dessert…


Beyond hills and through vast meadows of wild gorunca, new villages emerge before us. Some have tall lines of trees and horses with baby colts tripping around their legs, others are a jumble of small stone houses caked with white and blue paint. Each give off a distinct feeling, like warmth on rocks, or looking across fields from a hillside, or green perfumed shade from yellow rose bushes.

And in each of the villages we visit, sometimes behind a house, or sometimes lining the ridge of a horizon are small brown organic bee boxes. The Marmara Grubu program gave participants four boxes as part of the course, and in some cases, women decided to purchase more.  We visit, check the boxes, and without delay are invited to tea and dessert. The desserts are always handmade, sweet cakes, spongy cakes, fruit cakes, and helva.

I ask questions: what are the obstacles you face in beekeeping? Is organic beekeeping a challenge? Will you continue? Some women explain that finding a good spot for the bees is difficult, or that initially gaining acceptance from their community was a challenge. Organic beekeeping so far is easy here, where miles and miles of land are clear of everything but wildflowers and meadows. And with a resounding “yes!” every woman wants to continue.

While I am full from more dessert than I could imagine, I relish in the serenity of our afternoons in the villages.

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Dancing in a Swarm with Turkey’s Women Beekeepers


Aysel Unal holds bees from her new swarm in the palm of her hand.

I have drunk 30 cups of cay, eaten six desserts, thwarted two engagement proposals, and walked amidst a swarm of thousands and thousands of bees. When I left the house this morning, I thought I would be writing the whole day in a tea garden– so I was only wearing shorts and a tank top. Encased in golden flicks of light and the loud hum of wings, my heart danced. (more…)

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