Apiary development

And your Lord inspired the bees: “Make (your) homes in the mountains, the trees, and in what people construct, and feed from (the flower of) any fruit (you please) and follow the ways your Lord has made easy for you.” From their bellies comes forth liquid of varying colours, in which there is healing for people. Surely in this is a sign for those who reflect. – Qur’an 16-68-69

Did you know that in the verse above, the word for ‘their bellies’ (بُطُونِهَا) is in the feminine? That’s because it is only the females that produce honey; the males are all worker bees – a fact that Western science only learned in the last century!

As essential pollinators for a huge number of plant species, one of the linchpins of sustainable agriculture is beekeeping. Our resident beekeeper Abdul-Haqq keeps 30 beehives at Azahara over the winter and has conducted practical beekeeping workshops here to over 50 people since 2019.

While the hives are currently taken further up the mountains in the summer to provide them with wild flowers in cooler climes, we plan to develop this apiary project during the winter, with further workshops that include arts like geometry, crafts using beeswax such as candle-making, and studying the verses that mention bees in the Qur’an. Bee products such as honey, pollen and propolis can then be sold at the Azahara shop. It’s quite extraordinary to see the whole process from start to finish, offering a deeply rewarding way to reconnect with nature and honour these insects that are so tiny and yet so important to our ecosystems.

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