The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Emirati beekeepers by providing them with high quality queen bees of the local Emirati honeybee breed. This initiative aims to increase the production of premium local honey varieties such as Sidr, Samar and Ghaf, while ensuring the sustainability of the country's beekeeping sector. The announcement coincides with the annual celebration of World Bee Day on 20 May.

Last March, ADAFSA successfully bred and produced 2,693 queen bees from the ninth generation of Emirati honeybee queens. These efforts are part of the authority's ongoing commitment to develop the Emirati honeybee species, produce high quality honey and reduce dependence on imported bee colonies.

ADAFSA has continued its distribution efforts, providing 2,283 ninth-generation queens to local beekeepers, and breeding activities are ongoing. The target is to produce 3,000 queens during the spring breeding season (March to mid-May 2024) and an additional 2,300 queens during the autumn breeding season (October to mid-November 2024). This will result in a total production of 5,300 queens from the ninth generation of Emirati honeybee queens.

The authority indicated that a total of 13,217 queens from eight generations of Emirati honeybees were produced from 2016 - 2023, of which 10,703 queens were distributed to beekeepers across the country.

To promote local honey globally, ADAFSA organised the Al Wathba Honey Festival in Abu Dhabi from 26 January to 8 February 2024. Held in conjunction with the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Agricultural Excellence Award, the festival was attended by 60 beekeepers and companies involved in honey production. It included various honey competitions and prizes for participants.

ADAFSA also conducted scientific workshops and seminars on beekeeping and honey production. Topics covered included preparing honey samples for local and international competitions, the quality and importance of local propolis, best practices in rearing Emirati honeybee queens, and interactive sessions with beekeepers to discuss challenges in the sector and potential solutions.

In an important step, ADAFSA has published a scientific book titled Bees and Beekeeping in the United Arab Emirates. This marks the first publication in the UAE focusing on all aspects of bees, honeybees and beekeeping in the country, including wild and managed bee species. It highlights their significant role as pollinators of flowering plants in nature and agricultural crops. Written to appeal to a wide audience, the book blends general knowledge about the diversity, importance and conservation of bees with in-depth insights into challenges unique to honeybees (Apis mellifera) in the UAE.

Key topics covered in the book include sustainable beekeeping practices, managing hives in hot and arid environments, and identifying and addressing major pests and diseases. Special attention is given to the wild dwarf honeybee (Apis florea), a prevalent species in the UAE.

ADAFSA has also developed a special booklet on beekeeping and honey production for children, which aims to teach them how honey is made, and the terminology associated with bees and beehives.

This year, the authority issued a brochure on bee-eaters which feed mainly on bees, making it one of the most significant threats to bee populations, explaining the most effective prevention methods to reduce the impact of bee-eaters on bees. The bee-eater is one of the migratory bird species whose hunting or killing is prohibited by law.

Some of ADAFSA’s projects in the pipeline include a project to monitor pests and diseases affecting honey bee colonies in the country. The authority aims to develop a management programme to safeguard honeybee populations and ensure the sustainability of beekeeping in the UAE. The results of this project are expected by the first quarter of 2025.