King Saud University's Chair of Engineer Abdullah Ahmad Bagshan for Bee Research organized the workshop in cooperation with the Directorate General of Agricultural Affairs Administration in the Ha'il Region and the Beekeepers Cooperative Association in Al-Baha.
Chair Supervisor Dr. Ahmed Al-Khazim said that throughout the meeting, participants made a series of valuable recommendations for ways to strengthen cooperation among beekeepers and to upgrade the Kingdom’s flagging bee industry.
The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture, researchers and program sponsors worked throughout the meeting to develop and discuss solutions needed to improve the Kingdom's bee families and queen bee production, and establish an effective plan for bolstering the nation's honey industry.
Specific recommendations included establishing a beekeeper training series, as well as funding a program (to be coordinated with the Ministry of Agriculture) as a means to grant cooperatives authorization to issue beekeeping licenses.
Dr. Al-Khazim stressed that participants interested in running beekeeper cooperatives should provide dietary substitutes to bees, such as those being distributed by Ministry of Agriculture directorates. Workshop participants also suggested that the Ministry increase cooperation between beekeeper cooperatives and the Chair, which is an invaluable source of training and guidance for beekeepers.
Bee Chair coordinator Yehua Al-Attal presented a lecture on what to do, and what not to do in honeybee management when various problems arise, especially drought conditions.
His advice to the beekeepers is as follows:
- Sugar feeding is appropriate, but only if done properly; otherwise, it can affect honey quality.
- Pollen substitutes, which give bees badly-needed protein, should always made available within a colony.
- Foraging capacity for each location must be respected.
- Enjoy cultivating the indigenous honeybee race!
During the workshop, Dr. Al-Attal was also presented with an award for his contributions to beekeepers throughout the Kingdom.
In recent years, the King Saud University Bee Research Chair has played an integral role in developing governmental beekeeping initiatives and regulations in Saudi Arabia, where honey production is still deemed to be insufficient. Saudi has an estimated million bee colonies and 5,000 beekeepers, but the Kingdom still imports approximately 10,000 tons of honey annually.
Honey is a staple in many Saudis' daily diets and the demand runs significantly higher during traditional festive occasions, particularly following the holy month of Ramadan.
Dr. Al-Khazim thanked Engineer Salman Jarallah Al-Souwaineh, Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture in the Ha'il district, for sponsoring the workshop. He said that this support illustrates the Ministry of Agriculture's concern for such a vital sector.
King Saud University's Chair of Engineer Abdullah Ahmad Bagshan for Bee Research, supervised by Dr. Al-Khazim, was founded in 2009.