Alaskan Beekeeper Cross-Pollinates Expertise with Egyptian Apiaries to Improve Honey Quality

Originally published on April 3, 2015.

Many beekeepers in Egypt suffer from low hive productivity and poor honey quality. To increase technical knowledge on some of these challenges, Stephen Petersen, a master beekeeper from Fairbanks, Alaska, recently completed a successful two-week volunteer assignment in Egypt.

Petersen offered guidance to several apiaries on the importance of optimum spacing of bee colonies for better pollination and increased honey yields. Petersen also spoke at the Seventh Annual Arab Beekeepers Union Conference. Petersen’s presentation on good beekeeping practices generated much attention from the 300 attendees from over 12 countries!

Peterson’s visit was made possible by the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Middle East and North Africa (MENA) program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development. F2F’s greater initiative is to provide voluntary technical assistance to farmers and agribusinesses around the world to sustainably improve food security.

While in Egypt, Petersen discovered that one of the apiaries he visited during his assignment works with the indigenous Egyptian bee Apis mellifera lamarckii, a bee that is rarely used today. He calls them “a national treasure.” Several days after visiting the apiary he had the opportunity to see an ancient Egyptian depiction of beekeeping these bees at the Tomb of Pabasa. “You may have to be a bee geek to appreciate my feelings upon seeing this classic scene just days after seeing it in action in Fayoum," he said.

Petersen is confident that beekeepers’ honey quality and yields will improve as the apiaries apply the advice he offered. Petersen is planning a follow-up assignment where he will offer seminars on best practices in bee colony management, nutrition, reproduction and harvesting at apiary schools in Upper Egypt.

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