Despite its long history, the future of bee keeping in Yemen is uncertain. In the face of the country’s devastating four-year long civil conflict thousands of beekeepers have been forced to abandon their trade as they fled their homes. The domestic market for honey has also been decimated by the near total collapse of the Yemeni economy, pressuring many of those not directly affected by conflict to abandon production.
In celebrating May 20th as World Bee Day, ACTED Yemen is proud to highlight its support for Yemen’s beekeeping industry through the provision of bee keeping trainings and the distribution of beekeeping kits and colonies.
Beekeeping has been a tradition in Yemen since the 10th century. Honey from Yemen’s bees is known to be some of the finest in the Arab world, and the quality of Yemeni honey is a point of pride for many. Before the war, there were robust domestic and international markets for Yemeni honey and it was a key component of Yemen’s agricultural sector, serving as a source of income for tens of thousands of individuals.
Although often overlooked, it is difficult to overstate how important bees are to the world’s ecology and economy. Bees are critical to the wellbeing of global biodiversity and agriculture. In Yemen, where war has exposed millions of people to the risk of starvation, bees and beekeeping are helping to support agriculture and sustain the livelihoods of farmers throughout the country.
Most beekeepers still active in Yemen rely on traditional methods which make their yields extremely vulnerable to environmental factors. All of this, compounded with the global threats of climate change and colony collapse disorder, make earning a living as a bee keeper in Yemen extremely difficult.
ACTED is working in the Ibb and Al Dhale’e governorates, the heartlands of Yemen’s beekeeping industry, to protect and advance beekeeping strategies and beekeepers’ incomes. ACTED is giving farmers hives and materials needed to jump-start new colonies, and providing new and inexperienced keepers multiple trainings in modern beekeeping methods and science. By combining improved knowledge with beekeeping kits, ACTED is working to support beekeepers, their families, and their communities to develop sustainable livelihood activities while benefiting the local environment.
Using beekeeping to provide income generation to Yemeni people may seem to be a low priority in the face of the countless issues facing the country at first glance, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yemen’s bees are critical to its economy and ecology in countless ways, and promoting the health of Yemen’s bees is essential in mitigating the humanitarian crisis and speeding its sustainable recovery after the war ends. ACTED is proud to be working to help maintain and modernize this centuries-old tradition, and hopes that World Bee Day 2019 serves as a reminder of how import bees are to those in need around the world.