With the support of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Chairman of the Presidential Court, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA), ADAFSA has launched an encyclopaedia on bees and beekeeping in the UAE, the first of its kind in the country to cover all aspects of beekeeping and honey production.

The project of honeybee breeding and the development of the Emirati bee breed, which resulted in the development of the encyclopaedia. The senior management of ADAFSA, led by His Excellency Saeed Al Bahri Al Amri, Director General, provided substantial support to the encyclopaedia preparation team, reflecting its commitment to promoting scientific research and development to achieve sustainability in the agricultural sector.

The encyclopaedia compilation team, led by Australian scientist Dr Denis L Anderson, spent years gathering information through ADAFSA's Bee Research Programme. They also considered findings published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The first edition of the encyclopaedia, which was signed during the Abu Dhabi International Food Exhibition 2023 (ADIFE), includes detailed information on the history of beekeeping and honey production throughout the ages, the beekeeping system in the UAE, the most important methods and techniques to ensure the sustainability of beekeeping in the country, the types of bees and their classification methods, and the wild bee and its role as pollinators of flowering plants in nature.

The encyclopaedia also covered the main methods of beekeeping and the production of high-quality honey, as well as the management of hives in dry and hot climates. In addition, the encyclopaedia contained detailed information on pests and diseases of honeybees and methods of prevention and treatment.

The encyclopaedia aims to reach a wider audience of people interested in beekeeping and honey production. It provides useful information about bees in general, such as their diversity, importance, care, development and sustainability. Although the Encyclopaedia is not a guide to beekeeping and honey production, it provides basic and comprehensive information for all areas of beekeeping, which forms the scientific basis for those interested in the field.

His Excellency Eng Mubarak Al Qusaili Al Mansoori, Executive Director of the Development and Innovation Sector of ADAFSA, said: “[The encyclopaedia] aims to provide a comprehensive reference for those interested in beekeeping in the UAE. It provides a wealth of information on the history of beekeeping in the country, the types of bees found there, sustainable beekeeping practices and the challenges faced by beekeepers. It also looks at the importance of bees in pollinating plants and producing honey.

"The encyclopaedia includes illustrations and high-quality images that make the information clearer and easier to understand. It also includes a list of reliable research and scientific references for further information.”

His Excellency pointed out that beekeeping and honey production are integral aspects of sustainable agricultural development that support the food security system, in addition to the environmental importance of beekeeping in contributing to the pollination process associated with the reproduction of plants and trees. Pollination also has a positive impact on the environment in general, helping to maintain the biodiversity and ecological systems on which agriculture depends and which are required by a wide range of plants.

The encyclopaedia is one of the achievements of the Research and Development Programme led by ADAFSA as part of its strategic plan to achieve sustainability in the agricultural sector of Abu Dhabi. The programme has contributed to the development of Emirati bee breeds, where the eighth generation has been developed and the process of developing generations continues to ensure the sustainability of beekeeping and honey production.

The production of eighth-generation Emirati queens developed by ADAFSA under the project to develop and sustain beekeeping and honey production is characterised by the activity of workers in collecting honey, the high activity of queens in laying eggs, their adaptation to local conditions and their ability to withstand the attacks of bee-eating birds.

Throughout 2022, more than 3,079 queens were produced. Furthermore, ADAFSA distributed more than 2,700 queens to 90 Emirati beekeepers. This initiative aimed to provide support to beekeepers and boost honey production while encouraging more breeders to actively contribute to the development and sustainability of the crucial sector.

The encyclopaedia is divided into 19 chapters covering all aspects of beekeeping in the UAE. The first chapter provides general information that serves as a comprehensive guide to all chapters of the book. It then looks at the history of beekeeping through the ages and in the Arab world, the current state of beekeeping in the UAE, and the factors affecting the sustainability of the beekeeping sector in the UAE. Chapters 3 to 5 discuss biodiversity and conservation of bees, pollination by bees, and its role in pollinating plants.

Chapters 6 and 7 provide basic detail on honeybee colonies, and honeybee form and function, which will help beekeepers understand factors that can affect bees. Chapter 8 introduces the reader to the types and breeds of bees found in the UAE. Chapters 9 and 10 provide pointers for beginner beekeepers, and practices for beekeepers to improve bee health and honey production respectively.

In Chapter 11, the key issue of honeybee nutrition and foraging is discussed, while Chapter 12 focuses on the challenge of keeping hives of honeybees alive all year round in the conditions of the UAE, and the key ways to ensure honeybee sustainability. The next six chapters, from 13 to 18, focus on the diseases, pests and factors that affect honeybees in the UAE, and methods of prevention and treatment. These include insect pests, the Varroa mite, bee-eater birds and microbial pathogens. The chapter then highlights some of the threats to beekeeping in the UAE and the impact of pesticides. In the 19th and final chapter, the encyclopaedia provides suggestions for enhancing the development and sustainability of the beekeeping sector in the UAE.