Dubai: Beekeeping tradition in the mountains of the UAE is receiving a renewed buzz with the opening of the region’s first queen bee rearing station in Hatta on Wednesday.
The 110-square-metre Hatta Honey station was inaugurated on Wednesday by Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, coinciding with the opening of the second Hatta Honey Festival.
“This is the first queen bee rearing station outside the USA and Canada that breeds healthy bees at the highest standards,” said Mohammad Al Najeh, CEO of Al Najeh Group, one of the partners in the joint venture.
The apiary will breed 100,000 queens annually, with each breeding queen costing $1,000, while the production will cost $50.
The centre has the capacity to produce 17 tonnes of honey annually, which will increase to 300 tonnes once the facility is fully ready.
“We are turning the disadvantage of our weather into an advantage. Nobody in the world can breed queen bees in this time of the year when temperatures in the US and Canada are at freezing levels, but here we have the best climate to rear the highest quality bees and produces the best honey,” added al Najeh.
The Hatta Honey will soon be available with the retailers and the centre will also be open for educational tours for students and tourists to educate them about the methods of scientific queen beekeeping.
The five-day Hatta Honey Festival that got under way on Wednesday has brought together leading beekeepers and honey producers in the Arabian Gulf region, including Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE.
The first edition of the festival was held last year and since then, special efforts have been made to revive the traditional practice of beekeeping, which was one of the primary ancient industries of Hatta and other mountainous regions of the UAE.
The festival and the queen bee production centre is part of the Hatta Comprehensive Development Plan.
“The Hatta Honey Festival is part of the project to develop the Hatta region and support local industries. The event brings together a large group of beekeepers from the UAE, the Arabian Gulf and the world to exchange experiences and discuss the most successful ways to improve honey production, which was one of the ancient industries in Hatta area. The festival showcases a wide variety of honey produced by the region,” said Hussain Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality, following the opening of the festival.
He said the festival aims to help beekeepers in marketing their products under the supervision and control of the specialised organisations.
The festival has also helped set up a platform of beekeepers in the region leading to the first Gulf Beekeepers’ Association, which will help improve methods and increase the regional production.
The UAE currently has around 300 honey producers, 50 of them located in Hatta, producing around 50 tonnes of honey annually and the quantity is set to go up drastically with the establishment of the new facility.
“We have seen great interest among the local people in taking this ancient practice and our idea is to help revive this ancient practice while also teaching beekeepers modern and efficient methods that will help produce great quantities of organic and natural honey,” added Lootah.
The festival, which is open for public, showcases various types of honey and honey-based products.
It offers an educational window to those willing to learn how to identity authentic honey and how to distinguish between different varieties of honey.
Some of the varieties of honey displayed include Al Sidr, Al Shouka, Al Telh, Al Samr, Al Salm, Al Dhahi, Al Qatad, Al Saifi, Al Sehah, Al Barseem, Al Rabeei, and Al Hamadhiyat, which can be distinguished by their different colours and smell.
White honey, which is produced from the nectar of a rare flower was also on display.