Bee Keeping in Riyadh

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Employees assembling the frames

I don’t know much about bee keeping yet, but it is definitely on my “To-Do list” for the upcoming months. If you’re interested in keeping bees in Riyadh, you can find everything you need at the bee supply stores on Salam Road, opposite Salam Park. All of the workers in the bee supply stores have a strong passion in apiculture. The workers are graduates with agriculture/apiculture degrees and have many years of experience with raising honey bees.

Last season, we grew sweet corn. During the pollination stage, we had hundreds of bees descend and just buzz around the pollen. I would have loved to share a video but we are in all of them. It was a surreal experience when we first saw the bees. We were about to go to sleep at 8am (we had a terrible sleep schedule) but we kept hearing this low buzzing sound. Initially, we thought we were hearing things – lack of sleep can do that. After asking some of the morning household staff whether they could hear the sound, we felt reassured that we weren’t going crazy.

Then, as we tried to find the source of the sound, one of the assistants said it could be the bees. We didn’t agree –  we thought bees can’t make that much noise. How wrong were we! If you’d asked me the day before what I would have done if there were hundreds of bees flying around me, I would have said run as far away and as fast as possible…failing that, I’d probably faint!

The closer we got to the area with the sweetcorn, the louder the noise got. When were standing in the middle of the field, we had to shout to make ourselves heard.  There we were, in the middle of this beautiful small field of greenery, with hundreds of bees just doing their job, overwhelmed by scent of sweet honey in the air. The cherry on top was the rain – it was drizzling! I can’t tell you amazing that experience was! Our happiness also resonated into our employees, who radiated happiness back to us. We had a household of happiness! It’s incredible to be surrounded by such strong positive energy! I also surprised myself since I didn’t run away or faint!

That magical experience (coupled with the decline in honey bees) was our motivation to consider starting a honey bee sanctuary and to start our research. One of my friends is currently introducing me to beauty of raising honey bees. I have no interest in the honey, but I find looking at bees therapeutic.

Perhaps you already have more knowledge and have already decided that bee keeping is for you. Once you’re ready to take the plunge into beekeeping, the price of 1 fully assembled hive is 350 SAR. Each hive has about 5000 bees and there are ten frames.

Besides your hive, the following is a list of further items you will need when starting out. (By all means, the list is not conclusive. It is to used to provide a price indication to those who are thinking of taking a bee keeping as a hobby.)

Protective Clothing

  • Bee Suit (Retails from 250 SAR)
  • Gloves (disposable, unpowdered surgical gloves are fine. 25 SAR from any pharmacy)
  • Boots (Wellingtons are fine)

Equipment

  • Smoker (used to calm the honeybees, preferably buy a smoker that is stainless steel and large, from about 250 SAR or order online)
  • Fuel (ensure the fuel doesn’t contain insecticide)
  • J-Shape hive tools (Used to lever boxes apart, bigger size is better, from 25 SAR locally)
  • Plastic tub with lid – (should be big enough to hold your J-shape hive tool, you can use an old ice cream tub – I’ve never brought ice-cream so I don’t know the prices)
  • Kitchen scourer – (ensure it is free from soap, 7 SAR)
  • Washing soda – to clean the hive tool.
  • A feeder – about 60 SAR.
  • Queen marking cage – 30 SAR.
  • Notebook – used to keep records. About 5 SAR.

Do let me know if you decide to start bee keeping as a hobby. Good luck!

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