Ali Alzein, a Syrian refugee, is dedicated to protecting and expanding the population of native Black bees
Ali Alzein was separated from his Syrian homeland, family, societal connections, and connection to nature when he fled the civil war to live in Egypt and then in London.
From a young age, Ali has beehives. He returned to beekeeping when he arrived in London and found it helped him overcome depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms.
With Bees and Refugees (registered as Community Interest Organisation),
Ali is passionate about introducing beekeeping to other refugees, to help them feel a sense of place and purpose in a new community. He is trained in British beekeeping methods, with a focus on organic and natural beekeeping methods.
Native black bees
The native British black bee was the dominant honeybee in the UK until about 100 years ago when they were nearly wiped out by parasites and disease brought in by imported bees. The native population crashed and were replaced by imported European bees.
Black honeybees are hardy, resilient bees that can adapt to our changeable and unpredictable climate, and thrive in all kinds of weather. Bees and Refugees want to rebuild our wild populations of native honeybees, as well as encourage new beekeepers to choose native bees for their hives rather than keeping imported bees. Black honeybees are just as important as our native bumblebees, solitary bees, and other pollinating insects vital to the maintenance of our ecosystems.
What has he achieved?
• Therapeutic workshops for Youth Refugee Service at the Red Cross to unaccompanied refugee children and has been partnering with schools and community groups to teach about
ethical beekeeping and honey (Hammersmith Academy, Oasis farm in Waterloo, Clitterhouse farm project, and Hammersmith Community Garden).
• Donation and installation of beehives and a frame of honey to local communities who have the space to get them started. People learn about beekeeping and the importance of bees, while refugees are trained to become beekeepers.
All the hives are maintained by certified managers and the honey and other bee products are offered to local residents. Beehives have been installed at Hammersmith Academy in Cathnor Road, Shepherds Bush, where they’ll host four hives on a balcony. Another four will be in Askew Crescent, Hammersmith, with three in Wendell Road and three in Bryony Road, Shepherds Bush. Another four will be located just over the border in Chiswick, with more sites in H&F to be confirmed soon.
• Creation of insect hotels to promote the development of solitary bees and other important insects. They have recently partnered with 245Hammersmith to create an insect hotel on their tenth floor.
• Selling of sustainable and raw honey collected from Bees and Refugees’ hives (only 10% is collected)
Beekeeping is an ancient skill with therapeutic and environmental benefits. What are the benefits?
• For refugees:
Beekeeping provides; a purpose and meaningful pursuit, a connection to social circles, businesses, and local communities, and improves mental health.
• For bees:
Due to farming practices with pesticides and herbicides many bees are endangered. Without bees, there is no pollination. Ethical beekeeping plays an important role in maintaining their health and ensuring their survival.
• For local communities:
Beekeeping benefits local biodiversity, supports the integration of refugees into local communities, teaches people about the importance of nature and ethical beekeeping brings community cohesion and offers local raw honey (only 10% of produced honey is sold, the rest is kept at the hive for bees to make beeswax.
To support his amazing program, you can donate to Bees and Refugees on Gofundme HERE
Also, if you think that your school would be interested in workshops or to have a hive, please contact him on his facebook page.
For more info click HERE