Angelina Jolie is the ‘godmother’ to Women for Bees & she’s a bee activist now

Angelina Jolie cares about so many things: refugees, women’s rights, food insecurity, violence against women, children’s rights, immigration and like a million other things. We can add one more thing to that list: bees. Jolie cares about the preservation of bees. Jolie is partnering with UNESCO as part of her Guerlain contract to protect the bees. She posed for a bee-covered photo for National Geographic, and she gave an interview which came out on World Bee Day to highlight her new issue.

Why she posed for the photo: Angelina Jolie posed for a striking portrait for National Geographic to draw attention on World Bee Day to the urgent need to protect bees—and to a UNESCO-Guerlain program that trains women as beekeeper-entrepreneurs and protectors of native bee habitats around the world. Photographer Dan Winters, an amateur beekeeper, drew his inspiration from a famous 1981 Richard Avedon portrait of a bald California beekeeper, whose naked torso was covered in bees.

Why bees? “With so much we are worried about around the world and so many people feeling overwhelmed with bad news, this is one [problem] that we can manage.” Three out of every four leading food crops for human consumption—and more than a third of agricultural land worldwide—depend in part on pollinators, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. It’s not just fruits, nuts, and vegetables; bees also pollinate alfalfa consumed by cows and crops used for clothing and medicines. Honeybees alone enable an estimated $20 billion in U.S. crop production, according to the American Beekeeping Federation; pollinators support well over $200 billion in food production worldwide.

Bee Godmother: Jolie was recently named “godmother” for Women for Bees, a five-year program launched by UNESCO, the UN’s educational, scientific, and cultural arm, and Guerlain, the French cosmetics house. Guerlain says it has contributed $2 million to train and support 50 women beekeeper-entrepreneurs in 25 UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves around the world. The women are expected to build 2,500 native beehives by 2025, safeguarding 125 million bees, according to Guerlain. Women from Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, France, Russia, Rwanda, and Slovenia will be trained this year, with others from Peru, Indonesia, and more joining in 2022.

She’s working with bees now: In June, Jolie will join the first 10 Women for Bees to take part in an accelerated 30-day training led by experts at the French Observatory of Apidology in Provence, where she plans to get trained in beekeeping as well.

Her beekeeping work in Cambodia: “Looking at the environment and livelihoods. We’ve had a lot of poachers become rangers who work with us, and they’ve done a lot to stop logging and protect the animals where they can. And there’s a lot of gathering of wild honey in Cambodia. It’s very important that you don’t just go into a country and say, “No infrastructure, no roads, no progress, no nothing, we’re going to keep this special area and preserve it.” We do need to do that, but in order to really do that in a way that’s sustainable, we have to find ways that the people living within those communities are thriving and connected to this natural environment.

Whether she will have hives at home: “I have a lot of wildflowers and my bees are very, very happy. Yes, we’re trying to figure out where we would put the hives. I think I have to do them on the roof. There are two types of bees. This is to all you women: wild and solitary or domestic and honeybee. Take a choice. The domestic honeybee is the one that makes the honey and then there’s this other bee, that’s the wild solitary bee that lives a very different life and does not make honey but pollinates. I feel like lately I’ve been a lot of domestic honeybee, but in my heart, I’m wild solitary.”

[From NatGeo]

I used to not give a sh-t about bees but watching Elementary made me really interested in beekeeping (Sherlock keeps hives on that show). I think it would be so cool to have some hives. Oh wait I just realized that Elementary starred Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock and JLM is Jolie’s ex-husband! That is so weird! Anyway, I love that she’s getting involved and I can’t wait to hear about her beekeeping skills. These programs sound really awesome.

Guests pose at the "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" London Premiere

Additional photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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58 Responses to “Angelina Jolie is the ‘godmother’ to Women for Bees & she’s a bee activist now”

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  1. Mira says:

    I wish more people would care about bees. Their possible extinction scares me sh#tless.

    • Smile says:

      Same!

    • Emm says:

      Agreed. I’ve been worried about them for a long time and have tried to do my part. Remember the movie The Happening and Mark Wahlberg’s lines about them lol? I still think about that a lot.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      100%. I love that she’s bringing attention to this issue.

      I’m so glad she uses her platform to highlight important issues and encourage people to be aware and involved.

    • Dierski says:

      Totally agree! Wonderful that she’s bringing her major impact and awareness to this cause!!

  2. Wiglet Watcher says:

    I just bought a flow hive and I’m so excited to built a little hive on my property! My state does a rebate if you own so many acres to help boost the population.

    • Eleonora says:

      Wow, amazing!
      Happy for you.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      Good job, you. that’s awesome.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        Thanks
        They’re supposed to be great for 1st Time beekeepers as the device does all the complicated work. You just need space with fields or gardens away from heavy pollution.

    • Petra says:

      Kudos to Angelina Jolie on this initiative.
      We are doing the same at our property too. It’s amazing to walk among bees and butterfly in the meadow. The meadow started out very sad, the precious owners wanted to live on a farm but without farm creatures. They fumigated the land so bad, luckily mother nature is amazing when shown love. The farm land is now buzzing with farm creatures after 4 years of tender care.

  3. Eleonora says:

    Supporting bees is great.

    I often buy bee-friendly plants or gift them to friends. Live in a flat, so no ‘traditional’ garden, but they still visit my balcony-garden.

    Bees are actually the reason I started a little balcony garden, and have had great fun with it.

    • LadyMTL says:

      Can I ask – do you get lots of bees or just a few at a time? Is it bothersome at all? I live in a condo with a small balcony out back and I’ve been interested in starting a little bee-friendly garden but I am afraid of bees (and of most insects, really…don’t get me started on spiders) so I’m not sure if I should.

      Also, my downstairs neighbor has small kids and I’d be worried about them being scared or stung if there were lots of them around.
      Thanks!

      • Olivers Mom says:

        I know that you didn’t ask me, but I also have a small urban garden that attracts pollinators of all sorts. Most bees are really harmless, they either do not sting, or are just generally not aggressive. Also, while my little garden is pretty active bug-wise, it’s not like a constant swarm. More like a couple of bees (or other insects) happily flitting from one flower to the next. They really pay very little attention to anything else.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        yeah, what Oliver’s Mom said. we have several pots and “window” boxes on our deck and we get bees here and there but they’re not aggressive at all. (the only aggressive bees I’ve ever encountered are carpenter bees, and that’s mostly with OTHER carpenter bees.) and if you plant the right flowers, you’ll get butterflies and hummingbirds, too!

      • LadyMTL says:

        Thank you both very much for your answers, I appreciate it! :)

      • Eleonora says:

        I don’t get lots of bees, certainly no swarm, just the occasional happy visitor from time to time.

        My aunt and uncle have a big garden filled with bee-friendly plants and they have never been stung in decades. Like Olivers Mom and whatWHAT say also.

        What you can do is put one flowerpot with lavendel, see how that goes, and build from there.
        As a bonus, mosquitoes dislike lavendel. Bees love it.

        As an added tip, please don’t remove dandelions when you see them. They are an important source for bees and butterflies in early spring.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      @Eleonara, love that you mention dandelions. Our property is 1 of 5 on our street that refuses lawn treatments. We like and eat dandelions…plenty left for bees. Dandelion greens taste similar to arugula. I’ve made #8 & 9 (#9 minus the poached egg-not a fan-scrambled works for us).
      https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/04/dandelion-recipes.html

  4. Eurydice says:

    A couple of years ago I met a bee guy named Noah Wilson-Rich who has a company called Best Bees. His team will set up the bee hives, maintain them, harvest the honey and put it in jars for you, and he also collects samples and does scientific study and DNA analysis on the data from your hives. It’s kind of expensive, but if you’re into bees, but don’t have time for all the work – this could be an answer, And it supports his research laboratory. He also gets support from NASA and Harvard

  5. salmonpuff says:

    One thing we can all do to make the world better for bees is to eliminate pesticide use and call on our local, state and national governments to ban some of the biggest pollinator-toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoids (neonics), glyphosate, chlorpyrifos and others. Neonics have been one of the primary drivers in bee declines — their introduction thirty years ago coincides with the major declines. (Pesticide companies will tell you it’s related to diseases like varroa mites, but one of the ways neonics are harmful is that they weaken bees’ immune systems so they’re more vulnerable to varroa mites and other diseases.) Most home and garden stores have agreed to phase out neonics, but the grocery and ag industries are dragging their feet.

    These pesticides are bad for bees and other pollinators, but they’re also really bad for us, and they shouldn’t be in use. The EU is way ahead of the U.S. on this, and we urgently need to catch up.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Very true salmonpuff! It’s important to mention herbicides/weed killers with pesticides since glyphosate and other bad things for bees are found in those products too.

      I’m glad to hear Angelina cares about the bees.

      • salmonpuff says:

        I’m writing about glyphosate for a client right now. That one has wreaked havoc on western monarch butterflies….the numbers are abysmal this year! I hope we don’t lose them, but it’s not looking good. Ditch the Roundup, everyone! And plant milkweed!

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        We noticed last summer we didn’t have as many monarchs in our backyard as previous years. We have Russian sage, purple coneflower, allium and bee balm (along with a number of other flowers) in different areas of our property that both the bees & butterflies love, but no milkweed. Thanks for the reminder. Looking into the monarch situation I came across this link, like the idea. If you scroll down it suggests what type of milkweed to plant for your region. It would be good for the bees too.
        https://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/

  6. Sunnydaze says:

    I watched that Netflix series Unwell and the apitherapy episode really bothered me. I appreciated how the different episodes looked at the medical evidence and made an effort to be relatively unbiased, but the apitherapy one was really lacking in a focus on the actual ethics of using bees for alternative medicine solely for their sting and being ok with the subsequent death. Only one person featured even acknowledged the bee died so she could have this experience. The medical side was present as far as discussing the lack of evidence but I was really really disappointed these self professed bee lovers weren’t called out on what they were actually doing.

    • Amelie says:

      Yes, I remember that episode! Bee sting therapy for people suffering from long term Lyme’s disease. It bothered me too that people were buying bees to essentially kill them for one time use. And I was surprised no one mentioned that they were using bees to kill them when we all know bees are precious and essentially endangered at this point.

      • Kkat says:

        I would hope they are farming bees for medical practices, so that it wouldn’t impact our natural outside bee population.

        It’s horrible they are killed for this, but then we kill other animals for food 🤷

  7. Adream says:

    This is a wonderful cause and a beautiful portrait. However Jolie’s many causes are not cohesive and when she stands up for so many projects it’s hard to distinguish between what is a passion and what is a paycheque. The idea of wild and solitary vs domestic is a nice touch though.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      I’m not really sure what you mean about what’s a passion and what’s a paycheck.

      her endorsements (Guerlain, LV, etc) are obv paychecks (a lot of which she donates) but the causes she takes on are, from what I understand, all passions. all of the UN work she does and being a bee ambassador – I don’t think she gets paid for any of that. she does that work because she believes in it.

      I mean, in THIS case, you could say she’s getting paid but the $$ is for her endorsement of the product, not for the bee awareness.

    • PrincessMe says:

      What do you mean by her causes are “not cohesive”? People can care about multiple things – as a matter of fact, the causes mentioned above are things I also care about. They’re “human causes” if you will.
      I’m not trying to be disrespectful, btw, I’m just trying to understand what you meant.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Really?!? Silly comment. People can have multiple interests/causes that are not linked to each other.

    • Myra says:

      Since she doesn’t get paid for her causes, it’s not for a paycheque. Her contracts with Guerlain and others are no different to those of other celebrities, artists and influencers paid for product/brand endorsements.

      It’s great that she uses that relationship to supplement her existing charitable efforts. Her work in Cambodia started way back when during her Tomb Raider days. This is just a lovely extension and continuation of the conservation and demining efforts there. She is also an honorary citizen if I’m not mistaken, so not really a departure from her interests if she holds a special place in her heart for Cambodia.

  8. lucy2 says:

    Great cause, but the picture is freaking me out a little!
    There’s a beekeeper on my way home from my office, I saw them suiting up the other day. And I see the hive boxes here and there throughout my area. Thankfully it seems people are becoming more aware and protective of bees, but there’s still too many out there using the pesticides.
    I’ve been working on a perennial bed in my garden, and wow is that thing loaded with bees in summer.

  9. Maria says:

    I love this because I am a perfume lover and I love Guerlain. Guerlain’s emblem have been the Napoleonic bees since the reign of Napoleon III, the different homages to bees and famous bee bottles have become iconic, and this is them funding more research through their Guerlain for Bees program.

  10. nicegirl says:

    The is is awesome!! Youngest son and I volunteer with a bee keeping group and we’re saving for a flow hive rn. We’re very excited to help our busy bee friends.

  11. TheOriginalMia says:

    I’ve started caring about bees. I try not to swat them or disturb them when they are buzzing around the house.

    I love this portrait. Ethereal.

    • PrincessMe says:

      Same here. I either leave them alone and they’ll make their way out or I’ll gently collect them and take them outside.

  12. Lively says:

    I wish we were more connected to nature.
    My dream is a farm in my country

    Props to Angie, She educates herself

  13. Laalaa says:

    That portrait is a really amazing piece of modern art.
    And I love bees, they are so cute and fuzzy! Protect them at all costs

  14. LawyaGal of says:

    Beekeeper here! I am thrilled that AJ is bringing global awareness to the healthy of bee colonies worldwide. Bees account for 70% of the food you eat! I urge you all to buy bee friendly plants, stop using harmful lawn treatments and keep hives if you can. It’s a very peaceful and rewarding hobby.

  15. Serena says:

    It’s important to care for bees, nowadays everyone should know of their importance so there are NO excuses.

  16. Adream says:

    I’m saying this doesn’t fit in with the long list of wonderful additional causes she has stepped behind and supported. Whats “silly” is naively thinking all these celebrities actually back up these organisations out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s straightup advertising for her, and for her brand and she gains financially from that even if it’s just a tax break.

    Yes she donates lots of money, yes she is interested in bees like we all are, but she is also selling a carefully planned out brand. She has stood behind many refugee and equal rights causes so to stand behind what is basically a Guerlain commercial ( I’m sure she or they donated part of the proceeds to Nat Geo) and say she is a) educated about bees b) altruistic just isn’t right. The recent interviews where she talks about being single and not dating tie right in with the writeup of this ad and being “solitary and wild”, so you can’t tell me her team isn’t stitching things together. I’m saying they really made a stretch trying to bring in bees/scents/perfume into her conservation efforts.

    • Eleonora says:

      I’m kind of tired of people who try to prove someone isn’t good when they’re actually doing good. Seems to be about showing others how “naive” they are, thereby implicitly showing how smart they are for seeing through it.

      I guess there will always be those who change the world for the best and those who sit back and nag about it.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      so, basically your complaint here is that she’s getting something out of speaking out for a good cause? really?

      don’t we all get that when we work for a good cause? even if that “something” is just self-satisfaction, knowing we did something good?

      there are plenty of celebs that do NOTHING for charity. they make their movies/music, they go out to dinners/clubs/award shows, they strut for the paps…and do nothing for others. and here is a woman who has dedicated a large part of her adult life (and her salary!) to try to make things better for other people and other creatures, and you’re going to drag her for…what?…getting “brand recognition”?

      jeez…do better.

  17. SpankyB says:

    There’s a beehive on the roof of the building across from my business. I leave little shallow dishes of water out for them, especially on hot days. I need to plant more bee friendly flowers around the area so I can watch them flit about, I love watching them.

  18. Midge says:

    Tyra aint gonna be happy about Angie Jo’s smyze takeover.

  19. Lila says:

    I love bees. We keep lots of bee friendly options in our yard (our bees currently are going Gaga over our Bluebeard bushes, our desert bird of paradise trees, and our cilantro that has gone to seed). Love seeing and hearing them. This year carpenter bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies are visiting regularly, too. It’s lovely and soothing.

  20. Liz says:

    Beehives and colonies are also being looked at to keep wild elephant populations away from village land and farms. Elephants stay away, dont trample gardens and such, and it’s hoped to reduce human/animal contact and conflict.

  21. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    Ok. I’m going to try for the wild bees. I’m a research nerd at my core so this will be my new project.
    I will honestly say that I had no idea there were two kinds of bees and how perilous the situation is.
    Thanks for posting

    • Kristic says:

      There are many bees. My daughter is an entomologist and studies osmia lignaria also know as the orchard mason bee or blue orchard bee. It’s a solitary bee like the carpenter bee. So interesting. Honestly the biggest threat to bees — and everyone — is climate change. I’ve learned so much about insects and now try to be kind to all bugs, even the icky spiders and scary wasps.

    • Haapa says:

      Yay! Entomologist here. Wild bees need our help so much more than honey bees. There are over 4,000 species of wild bee in the US alone, and 20,000 worldwide. Honey bees are introduced in North America. They are essentially livestock. Keeping honey bees as a way to conserve bees would be akin to keeping chickens to conserve birds. Honey bees are as likely to go extinct as cows or chickens. Not only are they non-native in North America, they also out-compete our native bees for resources and also spread diseases to them too. On top of that our wild bees are better at pollinating. Many of them are capable of something called buzz pollination or sonication, where they vibrate their wing muscles when they are on a flower and shake the pollen out. Honey bees aren’t capable of doing that cool trick.

      I am happy that Angelina took the time to point out the difference between “domestic” honey bees and “solitary” wild bees but I will point out that we have wild bees that aren’t solitary. Bumble bees are wild bees and they are social – they have a queen and workers just like honey bees. However, their colonies are much smaller in comparison.

      Anyways, I could talk bees all day but I won’t. Though I am giving a talk on pollination tonight for a local natural history society!

  22. Thirtynine says:

    Angelina keeps happy bees! I love it.

  23. shanydanza says:

    Beekeeper here and am grateful to have her as an advocate 🐝

  24. Yolanda says:

    The video is even better than the pic.
    She looks playful and relax in the video.
    Lovely to see she seems to be healthier and happier now.

  25. AD says:

    Wow, so much info about 🐝, interesting subject thanks, needs more publicity about 🐝

  26. Miss Jupitero says:

    I’m now officially a beekeeper! We have two hives, and I’m really excited about taking care of them!

  27. Numen says:

    Good cause. However, any serious conversation concerning bees needs to include industrial farming (intensive agriculture, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilisers and other chemical inputs) and military chaff (including geoengineering, only planned at this stage). Please look up what goes into military chaff.

  28. phlyfiremama says:

    Y’all, check your local pollinator or butterfly garden/ing groups on FB. So much good stuff that you cAn learn in these groups! You can create pocket habitats, and get registered as a Pocket PrAiry (Native species), Monarch Way station, or “other”…