Bees&Refugees is a grass roots organisation that aims at reintroducing beekeeping and permaculture to refugee communities by offering free training, mentoring and equipment.
Syria is well known for its wealth of craftsmen/women, as a cosmopolitan trade hub – for generations many Syrians have developed their skills by craftsmanship. These old crafts include the making of musical instruments, garments, tapestries, certain forms of agriculture, bee keeping etc. The war has had a devastating effect on this lineage of craftsmanship from one generation to the other – this is the context where Ali comes from.
Raised in a family of garment merchants, Ali grew up learning the smallest details of the garment industry where he started with his own small stand working his way up to overseeing greater operations, like many others his family’s business was damaged by the war and he had to abandon the family business to work in standardised retail stores – however, to Ali the heart of the Syrian revolution was a time for reinventing both himself and the society, opening a door to capturing the immense diversities that the Syrian society holds and that he himself is able to revive.
Living in the dense city of London is an overwhelming experience for all refugees including Ali, who felt separated from his family, homeland, societal connections and increasingly from nature. As such, he unwittingly tried to establish a society in his house that is built on the values that he grew up with coupled with those he found in the revolution, calling his home ‘the nest’ Ali has offered a safe space open for diversities of people from his community of friends as well as couch surfers from all over the world, created his own art work and engaged sustainably with the environment around him, first by starting an organic garden (that plans to become a city forest) and later with his bee hive.
Independently taught, Ali has found that this ancient craft has helped him implicitly take part in reinventing the world in a manner that stresses diversities of old forms of craftsmanship that engage as a part of the eco-system rather than as an enemy to it by taking on small strands of hope in the form of bees.
Project Bees&Refugees serves two distinct goals: first of which is environmental; with decreasing bee populations and the risks that this problem poses to the process of pollination, this project would play a role in the efforts towards increasing the local bee population while simultaneously supporting a sustainable and organic way for their care. In parallel, research shows that beekeeping can be a therapeutic occupation that can help refugees overcome anxiety and PTSD. In addition, beekeeping can provide extra financial support for the participants, the project will be open to all interested refugees, with specific focus on women and young adults.
In order to help the cause, people should contact their local council to push them to allow lawn 'weeds' to flower by cutting less often and instead fill gardens with RHS Plants for Pollinators plants. But most importantly is to Avoid using pesticides wherever possible and never spray open flowers.
One bee has to fly about 90,000 miles – three times around the globe – to make one pound of honey.
The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.