Located deep in the inland exclave of Hatta, Hatta Honey, the Middle East’s first queen bee rearing station, was officially launched on Wednesday. A joint partnership with the UAE government and two UAE-based honey and bee manufacturing companies – Hatta Honey and Al Najeh Honey – the facility is one of the most advanced apiaries and bee rearing centre in the world.
“The Hatta Honey rearing centre is equipped with 800 beehives and has the capacity to breed up to 100, 000 queen bees annually,” said Mohammed Al Najeh, the owner of Al Najeh Honey farm.
“We’ve begun retailing the product, and is now available in a store called ‘The Hive’ at the Global Village,” added Al Nahej.
The completely sustainable centre was launched as part of the Hatta Honey Festival, one of the developmental projects within the Comprehensive Hatta Development Plan, which was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Hatta Honey is the first centre in the world to rear the ‘Saskatraz’ queen bee outside of Canada and North America. Currently, the company produces 17 tonnes of honey every year, once completed it will produce 300 tonnes of honey.
Though the ‘Saskatraz’ bees have a shiny golden sheen and produce huge amounts of honey; the queen bee of this breed is truly unique.
Native to the Saskatchewan province in Western Canada, the Saskatraz queen bee has a lifespan of three to four years and is one of those gentle breeds of queen bees in the world, according to Al Najeh.
Manea Al Kaabi, the general director of Hatta Honey, told Khaleej Times that the project has been underway for some time now. “Hatta has a long history of honey production and over 20 varieties of honey are manufactured in this region. We’ve set this up in the best interest to protect the species,” he said.
Though the Hatta Honey queen bee rearing centre was buzzing with the collective hum of over several million bees, it was hardly a frightening sight. The bees have been adapted to the local climate, and all facilities are being put in place to keep them healthy for the summer as well. As if to convince that, Al Nahej dipped his hand into a beehive and cupped several honey bees into his palm.
He said: “Look how gentle they are. they don’t sting at all, unless provoked.”
Sweet start to second honey festival
Meanwhile, the second edition of the Hatta Honey Festival got a sweet start as a total of 50 bee farmers and manufacturers from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman gathered to display several varieties of honey of exotic and common honey.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, the director general of Dubai Municipality, along with Dr Thani Ahmed Alzeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) inaugurated the festival, which is set to continue till December 31. Dr Akima Umezawa, the Japanese Consul General, was also present at the inaugural fucntion.
“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 is considered to be one of the ancient industries in Hatta area. We’ve noticed a considerable increase in the production and sale of honey since the first festival,” said Lootah.
He said the festival aims to help beekeepers in marketing their products under the supervision and control of the responsible and specialised bodies.
“The festival did not neglect the educational aspect of the subjects related to honey production. The accompanying events include lectures by experts from the UAE and the Gulf countries and educational sessions on ways to increase productivity,” added Lootah.
Abdullah Al Shareef, the owner of Honey and Health Saudi Arabia, said: “The festival is a good place for beekeepers and manufactures to meet and share knowledge.”
The various activities of the festival offer the public the opportunity to know the types of honey and the ways of distinguishing between them. The products offered include different types of honey such as 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 colour and smell. Some types of honey are rare, as they are extracted from trees that grow in limited areas and bloom once a year.