A day in the life of...

Qatar To­day fol­lows the daily rou­tines of pro­fes­sion­als around the coun­try from all walks of life.

Qatar Today - - CITY LIFE DOHA DIARY - Khalid Al Suwaidi Pro­fes­sional Bee­keeper By Lind­sey Knepshield

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.

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