Abdul Aziz Bamadhaf got into beekeeping 24 years ago and liked it so much he established an Abu Dhabi business, Bees Kingdom, which sells beekeeping equipment, honey and supplements. He explains what he likes about it and why you should be wary of African bees.
How did you get into beekeeping?
It was a hobby at first. I have a friend from Egypt who brought me bees [from his country]. I only had 10 hives at the time. It was very hard to work at first. I got books in Arabic, but they don't write a lot about it in Arabic. I discovered it myself.
Do you still do it?
Yes, it gives me happiness. I cannot actually explain the feeling, but even the smell of it is unbelievable. People think bees are like other bugs, but they are not. It is interesting.
Have you ever been badly stung?
Yes, big time. One time we brought bees from Turkey. I kept them on the roof of my brother's villa. The next day, we wanted to take them to Ras Al Khaimah. But I lost the bottom of it. I got maybe 200 bites. I went to the hospital and got three injections. But I am not allergic. People who are allergic could die with only three bites. You don't know if you have an allergy or not, so you have to be careful.
What kind of bees do you use?
We use Egyptian bees. They are very aggressive. We have to take care of those bees properly because they are very dangerous. All of the colonies from Africa are aggressive. Here in the Arab [world there is a type of bees which is] only in Yemen and Oman. We don't get that kind of bees here in the UAE because the weather is so hot. We did [import] some in the past from Australia. They are not aggressive at all. But we only used them one season, because they die in the heat.
Do you have a hive at your house?
Before, they allowed it. Now they don't. You have to have a farm. We have farms in Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah.
Do they take a lot of looking after?
Every two weeks you have to check, because they have many enemies. If ants get in, the bees leave the hive. We use car oil under the legs [of the hive], but sometimes the dust covers the oil so the ants get into it. Another enemy is the lizard. It eats the bees. It comes near the door and gets them one by one. In one minute it can eat about 10. And when bees are afraid they do not go out.
* Gillian Duncan