Bees & Refugees… what’s it all about? Why bees?
Beekeeping is a skill that is growing in popularity. Beekeeping is physical, outdoors, therapeutic, benefits the biodiversity of Britain, and has a long term social benefit to all.
For refugees, beekeeping brings; connection to the new physical environment, a purpose and meaningful pursuit which is caring and fulfilling, a connection to social circles, businesses and local communities, and improves mental health.
For local communities beekeeping brings; benefits to the biodiversity of Britain, supports the integration of refugees into local communities, teaches people about the importance of nature and brings community cohesion.What’s happened so far?
So far, Bees & Refugees is just one hive - built and managed by London based Syrian refugee, Ali Alzein. Over the past year Ali has been using his hive to offer ‘Introduction to Beekeeping and Permaculture’ workshops to interested people in his local area. Ali is expanding to bring this successful resource to a wider group of people and locations to benefit society, bees and refugees! What’s the plan?
Bees & Refugees will supply local refugees with training in beekeeping, queen rearing, and hive making, as well as a starter kit that includes their own beehive, a space for the hive, and ongoing technical and logistical support for growing and maintaining the bees.
Registered as a community interest company, Bees & Refugees are partnered with Mosaic Initiative, a London based charity providing support to Syrian refugees since 2011. In addition, Ali is working with Hammersmith Council who are offering support through access to refugee resettlement programs across London, as well as providing physical space for the hives to be located across Hammersmith. Ali also has potential hive locations from local people offering their gardens.
To find out more about the Mosaic Initiatives work see > https://mosaicinitiative.org.uk/ Who is Ali Alzein?
Living in the dense city of London can be an overwhelming experience for refugees, and this is true for Ali who was separated from his family, Syrian homeland, societal connections and connection to nature.
From a young age Ali has spent time around beehives, learning techniques from his grandfather in Syria. Ali returned to beekeeping when he arrived in London, and found it to be therapeutic. It helped him overcome severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. He 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. How will the funds be used?
The end goal is to establish revenue streams so that the project can become self-sustaining, but we need help setting up and running.Phase 1
- to be completed by March 2020
The most important needs at this stage are the hives, the bees and beekeeping equipment, and a small van to move the hives around.
We have access to a workshop to build the hives, the cost below covers materials.
We need to achieve this funding goal by mid March 2020 to allow us time to construct the hives, and place orders of bees in time for the warmer Spring weather.breakdown of funds
20 Beehives £190 per unit totalling £3,800
20 Bees packages £175 per unit totalling £3,500
5 Beekeeping suits, tools kits £170 each totalling £850
Small secondhand van £7,000Total amount:
From conducting research and consulting organic and commercial beekeepers, the consensus is the amount of hives for a healthy, successful start should be a minimum of 20. This is enough of a foundation to be able to make splits (create new colonies by taking a portion of the established colony, transfer it to a separate hive, and introduce a queen) and have enough hives to be able to maintain strong populations across all the colonies. By taking this approach, by August we will be able to produce 10 new bee colonies.
We aim to continually expand the project - working in collaboration with the council and community members. If we exceed our initial funding goal this means we can expand the number of hives we start with.Future plans:Phase 2
- Building revenue streams and project expansion
We will provide apiary management on behalf of businesses and companies interested in boosting their corporate social responsibility (CSR) credentials by supporting a social enterprise that is also providing benefit to the environment and local area.
We will sell our local, organic, and sustainably produced honey alongside other bee products, and will assist B&R members with the marketing and distribution of their products.
We are in talks with Hammersmith Council to set up and run some school programs that will involve some basic bee education, as well as installing some bee and bug hotels.Phase 3 -
a permanent community space
Our long term goal is starting a community farm where we can hold all our workshops, have a space to build hives, and sell B&R products.Helping support biodiversity and the environment in Central London
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 a hardy, resilient bee that can adapt to our changeable and unpredictable climate, and thrive in all kinds of weather. We 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.
It is important when introducing hives into urban areas to ensure there are enough food sources for the increasing bee population. We will be organising planting initiatives, as well as frequent installation of solitary bee nesting habitats to aid the wild bees. Hammersmith Council is planning to make Hammersmith a bee friendly borough by increasing bee-friendly garden areas, as well as reducing the use of pesticides.
By supporting this project you are directly helping the biodiversity of Britain so we never lose these critical elements of the fragile environmental balance.Quote of support
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” You've probably seen this quote, usually attributed to Albert Einstein.
Thank you so much for being interested in our project. If you can’t donate financially, we would appreciate it if you could spread the word, or if you know anyone who might like to offer their garden as a hive location.