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  • Writer's picturePeter Howarth

Bee Keeping in Showka

Bee keeping has been around in the UAE for hundreds of years. As part of the Natural History Groups Inter Emirates Weekend I was give the opportunity to visit a traditional bee keepers farm. The farm was owned by a man called Salem, while not his main source of income it became clear it was a passion of his having been part of his families history for many generations.

D7500 Nikkor 70-200 1/2000 sec at f/4.0, ISO 320

Upon entering the farm we were greeted by Salem who had prepared a inactive hide to explains the the finer details for keeping bees. He showed us the different classes of bees including the male drones, the infertile female workers and later the queen. He also talked about how they can split hives and collect queens to make new hives.

After this introduction to bees we were taken further into the farm and given protective suits to put on before we ventured down to the active hives. At the hives Salem explained the importance of strong hives vs weak hives and how by keeping hives of different strengths near each other the overall strength of the hives is balanced. Salem also opened one of the strong hives to show the difference of the queen compared to the regular bees, remarkably the most obvious difference was a vivid blue dot on the queens back.

D7500 Nikkor 70-200 1/1000 sec at f/5.0, ISO 250

Prior to visiting the bees our guide Marina explained the differences between the two honey bees present in the UAE. The one considered local (Apis florea) is in fact a foreign visitor from Asia that is suspected to have arrived on boats some 200 years ago. This bee cannot be kept in hives and instead nests within caves and trees throughout the wadis. These natural occurring hives are quiet small and yield only small amounts of honey. However this honey is highly valued with a single kilo being worth 1000AED or around 200 British Sterling. The second species (Apis Mallifera) is widely imported from Egypt, this species can be kept in hives making it ideal for honey production. Salems average yield is 4-5kgs of honey per hive, on good years this can increase to as much as 7kg. A kilo of honey is worth around 300 AED or around 60 British Sterling.

D7500 Nikkor 70-200 1/3200 sec at f/2.8, ISO 280

After this amazing experience it was time to leave but not before our wonderful host gifted us each with two jars of Sidr honey harvested from his farm in winter last year. With fantastic memories we thanked Salem and headed off on our next adventure.

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