We are providing ethical beekeeping and hive making workshops for refugees and local communities in London. We work with the endangered native British Black Bee for our workshops to support their preservation in the UK.
Beekeeping is an ancient skill with therapeutic and environmental 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. 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.
About the founder Ali Alzein
Living in the dense city of London can be an overwhelming experience for refugees, and this is true for founder Ali Alzein who was separated from his Syrian homeland, family, societal connections, and connection to nature. From a young age, Ali has spent time around beehives. He returned to beekeeping when he arrived in London and found it helped him overcome depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. Ali is passionate about introducing beekeeping to other refugees, to help them feel a sense of place and purpose in a new community.
Ali is trained in British beekeeping methods, with a focus on organic and natural beekeeping methods.
What’s the plan?
- Provide a place of respite and community to refugees.
- Support the preservation of the endangered native Black Bee population.
- Establish beekeeping, hive making, queen rearing programmes, and offer these to refugees and local communities in multiple locations around London.
- Work with London Councils to improve biodiversity in the city by setting-up beehives and insect hotels.
- Offer London schools talks about beekeeping and the importance of insects, bees, and other pollinators.
Our next steps
Phase 2: Establish revenue streams for the project to become self-sufficient.
- 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.
- Sell our local, raw, and ethically produced honey alongside other bee products. We will never take more honey than the bees can afford to lose!
Phase 3: A permanent community space
- Develop a community farm where we can place our hives, grow foods, hold all of our workshops, and make it a point of sale where our participants can sell their bee products.
Phase 4: International beekeeping workshops for those who need it most
- Establish apiaries and deliver therapeutic beekeeping workshops in refugee camps in Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.
How will the funds be used?
Our next step is to establish revenue streams so that the project can become self-sustaining, but we need help setting up. Funding is needed to organise beekeeping workshops for refugees and the local community, buy beekeeping equipment/packaging, design a website, and help running the initiative.
Thanks to Hammersmith & Fulham council and generous donors we were able to set up twenty beehives across London, and we were able to create ten new colonies that we placed on Jamies Farm in Lewes.
Breakdown of funds
Workshops cost & learning material – £6000
Ultra-low emission second-hand van – £12,000 (if someone is happy to donate an old van/vehicle please get in touch with us on [email redacted])
Website design – £2000
Packaging and storage – £3000
Total amount needed to get going: £23,000
How you can support
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 and/or let us know if anyone you know would like to offer their garden as a hive location.
Follow us on social media
Facebook: Bees & Refugees
Website coming soon!
What we are up to right now
Our initiative is doing great despite the financial and physical restrictions Covid-19 brings. So far we have managed to coordinate with different organisations such as the Young Refugee Service at the Red Cross to offer honeybee therapy workshops to unaccompanied refugee children. We are also educating students about ethical beekeeping and honey at Hammersmith Academy, Oasis farm in Waterloo, Clitterhouse farm project, and Hammersmith Community Garden. We have recently partnered with 245Hammersmith and to create an insect hotel on their tenth floor.
Bees & Refugees are partnered with Mosaic Initiative, a London based charity providing support to refugees since 2011.
Helping to 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 hardy, resilient bees 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 to maintain local biodiversity.
Read more about us
- A great article about our initiative here .
- An article written by H&F council about our initiative here .
- To find out more about the Mosaic Initiatives here .
- Eloise Dethier-Eaton
- Nicola Smith
- Nina Seale
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