For a Palestinian community of fewer than 2,000 residents, the Ramallah village of Bil’in has received significant international attention over the past decade, with weekly Friday demonstrations against Israel’s separation wall drawing throngs of journalists, photographers and activists.
Receiving much less attention is daily life within the Bil’in community. There, a group of 30 women known as the Bil’in Women’s Cooperative has been farming bees and honey since late 2011. The women say they are learning important lessons about community living from the millions of bees they study daily.
“We learn a lot from the bees,” group member Samaher Abu-Rahma told Al Jazeera. “We learned how to work with them, but we also learned from them. They work together as a community, in uniform and supporting each other. For people, this is a model of living that we can learn from.”
The Bil’in Women’s Cooperative is one of a series of groups established by the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in Area C of the West Bank, which makes up more than 60 percent of the territory and is under complete Israeli military control. There have also been workshops on honey production, marketing and women’s rights.
The UAWC provides bee hives and other essential equipment to the community, and as another long summer approaches, the cooperative members are busy preparing for the next honey harvest.