A day in the life of...
Qatar Today follows the daily routines of professionals around the country from all walks of life.
Since Al Suwaidi began his apiary business in 2010, his weekdays have rarely been routine. Rather than chronicling his day, we asked him to walk us through the honey-making cycle at Bu Saif Apiaries.
While the bees are thickening the nectar into honey, Al Suwaidi and his team of beekeepers must work around the clock to defend the hive against their enemies. Ants are relatively easy to ward off with green netting inside the bee boxes, but snakes and scorpions can also sneak inside. The most malicious of predators is the European bee-eater: just one bird can consume 100 bees per day.
Bees naturally overproduce honey, meaning harvesting is a service to the bees themselves. Al Suwaidi harvests the honey on a monthly basis, visiting all 16 of his properties to collect an annual yield of 15-20 tonnes.
Few people can say that they own 1,500 bees. Al Suwaidi does, however, and those who knew him when he was young are unsurprised. When he was around 8-10 years old, he would find Qatari jungle bee nests to steal their honey as a gift for his father. Now he buys Egyptian bees, since they are able to live in bee boxes unlike the local bees that cannot nest outside of trees.
Now that the bees have arrived, they start drinking the nearby flower nectar. Honey taste and colour are dependent on the flower nectar, and the renowned taste of Bu Saif honey is due to the many sidr trees. Sadly this high-quality honey comes with a price: the bees here are less industrious than their European counterparts, which means noticeably smaller honey yields.
The honey is then cleaned, bottled and sold. One of Al Suwaidi's newer business ventures is the Abu Saif Cafe in Souq Waqif, where every item is made with Bu Saif honey. While ordering, make sure to avoid the cardinal sin of adding sugar to your already honey-sweetened tea!
Unfortunately, there is one enemy Al Suwaidi cannot fight: Qatar's oppressive summer heat, which can kill 80-90% of a hive. Rather than see his bees perish, Al Suwaidi releases them into the wild, buying new ones once the temperatures cool to start the cycle over again.