World Bee Day takes place on Saturday and it is an opportunity to remember how essential they are to the health of ecosystems and food security. The French house Guerlain, which has made the bee the symbol of its commitment to the environment, was in Quebec to forge partnerships in this direction.
Cécile Lochard, director of sustainable development at Guerlain, visited the company Miels d’Anicet in the Hautes-Laurentides, where she organized a bee school (Bee School) in order to raise awareness of the importance of the essential role pollinating bees that contribute directly to food security.
“Anne-Virginie Schmidt, of Miels d’Anicet, is a wonderful spokesperson for bee conservation. Bees are threatened due to air pollution and pesticides. The bee is in danger, so it is crucial to talk about it and to educate,” thinks Cécile Lochard, who was impressed by her visit to the Montreal Insectarium. “You have an incredible place that provides an experience of knowledge and love of insects, with educational virtues. It’s amazing,” she exclaims.
Cécile Lochard worked for a few years for the non-governmental organization WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature. She knows how important it is to partner with local partners, on the ground. With UNESCO, Guerlain has launched Women for Bees, a beekeeping entrepreneurship program that supports women’s financial independence. Angelina Jolie is the sponsor of the program and she went to Cambodia to meet the women and encourage them to become beekeepers. By 2025, 2500 beehives will be installed in 25 UNESCO biosphere reserves and 50 women will have been trained and encouraged to set up their beekeeping operations. “A colony is between 20,000 and 50,000 bees in a hive. We train women in beekeeping by providing them with the first hives to settle down,” she explains.
The bee has been Guerlain’s emblem for 170 years. At the wedding of Emperor Napoleon III to Empress Eugénie on January 30, 1853, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain offered the Empress Eau de Cologne Impériale in the Bee bottle decorated with 69 golden bees.
It was therefore natural for Guerlain to make bees its commitment to the environment. “We are lucky to have this emblem which is a symbol of regeneration. It was when we discovered honey for its healing properties on the skin (Abeille Royale skincare) that we became interested in the black bee on the island of Ouessant, off the coast of Brittany. »
Are the world of luxury and sustainable development compatible, since luxury has long lived in the cult of secrecy, far from transparency? “Indeed, the cult of secrecy is very ingrained in the world of luxury, but this is changing, as customers demand transparency and traceability. We are opening more and more of the workshops and backstage of luxury, because we can make people dream by opening their books and demonstrating their local know-how. We show our pickers, growers and farmers, the hands that pick the orange blossom, that cut the vetiver. We would not have shown it a few years ago. This authenticity has become a component of luxury. It’s easier for us, because we have this link with nature, but the fact remains that sustainable development is also starting to make people dream, because it’s the way of life today,” says Cécile Lochard, also co-author of book Luxury and sustainable development, the new alliance.