Meet Tahani, the Beekeeper Producing Honey in Palestine’s West Bank
A women’s empowerment project helps launch an apiary in Palestinian town.
Tahani lives in the town of Beitillu, near the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. She is a mother of five, and the sole breadwinner for her family.
“I was thinking about how to start this business even before connecting with Anera’s project. My neighbor is the one who suggested this project to me. He taught me everything I know about beekeeping. But I have never had enough money to launch a business,” she says.
Female workforce participation in Palestine is among the lowest in the region at 18%. In addition, access to financing and loans for small businesses is close to non-existent for most Palestinians in the West Bank. Anera’s Women Can project addresses both issues – financing and employment.
Some months ago the village council contacted Tahani as a potential candidate for Women Can, which is generously funded by Islamic Relief USA. Tahani was thrilled to apply.
The project that was once an idle thought has now become a reality. “Beekeeping was a perfect fit for me since I don’t have enough space to raise cows or sheep, or even for a clothing business,” she says.
In addition to the hands-on experience she learned from her neighbor, Tahani also took an Anera training in Ramallah through our Women Can program. Now she is putting all her knowledge into practice.
“Beekeeping is really what suits me. Every day I discover something new about bees. I think I have produced a high-quality honey. Everyone in our town praises my products.”
Tahani launched her small apiary business in March. She began with eight hives, and has since added another.
“I’ve sold almost 80% of my honey products. It’s an exciting accomplishment for me. I started immediately after getting the Anera grant, but it’s still a small business and I hope to grow.”
Tahani knows her family is depending on her to earn enough to provide for them. “I have a big responsibility. My husband is sick, so I have to take it all on me.”
For her planned expansion she has already consulted with expert beekeepers.
“I’ll need to move the hive into another box. So I am planning to buy new boxes in February, in addition to jars, a honey extractor, and tanks,” she says.
“I really need to make money for my kids and my husband’s medicine. But I am not overly concerned about this year’s profit, as long as I can invest what I make into expanding the business. Next year, all the hard work to start and expand my business will pay off and the whole family will benefit.”
“I get so much joy from my bees! I treat them as my little kids and I am taking care of them. If something happened and I couldn’t see them, it would feel wrong.”
When Tahani goes to visit her bees, she always wears a beekeeper's suit. “It could be a quick look to check on them, but other times I may spend three or four hours with them.”
“I have to take care of [the hive] all year. I always check if there are any wax worms to get rid of. Bees need special care in hot and cold weather. They can get sick, so it is so crucial to keep an eye on them,” she says.
Whenever the temperature drops, she puts out food and makes sure there is enough stored for the winter season to keep the hive alive. In summer, she makes sure they have enough water.
“I want to have 100 hives. We always start from zero. So I dream big. I have lived a tough life. I do not want my kids to go through what I went through. That is why I am working so hard on this project — to expand my business and make it successful not only locally, but also globally!”