ADAFSA has successfully developed an Emirati bee breed that exhibits distinctive traits, including smaller-sized female worker bees that display exceptional diligence in nectar collection. Image Credit: WAM

ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA), with the support and patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ADAFSA, has launched an ambitious programme to develop and sustain beekeeping and honey production in Abu Dhabi.

The programme is based on scientific and applied studies and research to develop the best methods and practices suitable for the UAE environment.

In celebration of World Bee Day on May 20, ADAFSA has announced the commencement of the eighth-generation queen production for the Emirati bee breed. Developed as part of the ongoing project to enhance beekeeping and honey production, this initiative aligns with the theme “Bee engaged in pollinator-friendly agricultural production” for this year’s World Bee Day.

Saeed Ali Al Yamahi, ADAFSA’s Research and Development Division Director, emphasised the significance of developing the Emirati bee breed as a key factor in ensuring the sustainability of beekeeping in the UAE. This entails focusing on the breeding and production of queen bees capable of adapting to the country’s unique environment and climate.

He further highlighted the accomplishments of ADAFSA in this domain. The authority has successfully developed an Emirati bee breed that exhibits distinctive traits, including smaller-sized female worker bees that display exceptional diligence in nectar collection. With each successive breeding generation, their honey production efficiency has improved significantly. The queens have shown exceptional activity in egg-laying and have consistently produced high-quality brood patterns. Moreover, they have demonstrated the ability to adapt to the local environmental conditions. Through continuous efforts, ADAFSA has successfully raised and produced queens, leading to the production of the eighth-generation bee breed.

Al Yamahi provided an update on the progress made in 2022, stating that over 3,079 queens were produced during that year. Furthermore, ADAFSA distributed more than 2,700 queens to 90 Emirati beekeepers. This initiative aimed to provide support to beekeepers and boost honey production while encouraging more breeders to actively contribute to the development and sustainability of this crucial sector.

Al Yamahi also highlighted the significance of beekeeping and honey production as an integral component of sustainable agricultural development, playing a crucial role in supporting the food security system. Honey, being a highly nutritious food product, holds substantial value. Additionally, beekeeping has significant environmental importance in maintaining ecosystem balance. Bees contribute to the vital pollination process necessary for plant and tree propagation. Pollination not only preserves biodiversity but also supports ecosystems that agriculture relies on. Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in ensuring the transfer of pollen, enabling the reproduction of numerous cultivated and wild plant species.

Cutting-edge technologies

Al Yamahi highlighted that ADAFSA relies on state-of-the-art scientific laboratories and advanced techniques for the diagnosis of honey bee diseases and pests. This essential research and development work is conducted at Al Kuwaitat Research Station in Al Ain. The laboratory is equipped with cutting-edge technologies to accurately detect bee pathogens.

It plays a pivotal role in training and qualifying Emirati experts to diagnose diseases and pests, aiding beekeepers in identifying issues within their apiaries. The laboratory also offers recommendations and technical guidance to effectively combat these diseases and pests. The project’s success has demonstrated that bee populations in the country can thrive year-round and adapt to the challenging summer heat conditions.

The authority is dedicated to developing comprehensive extension programmes and plans that facilitate the dissemination of knowledge to beekeepers in all regions of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. To achieve this, the Honey Beekeeping Unit provides extension services to beekeepers. The Unit focuses on equipping them with the latest methods and principles of beekeeping, including the grafting of larvae for queen breeding, effective strategies for controlling and diagnosing bee diseases and pests, techniques for improving production quality, and capacity building opportunities for Emirati experts in the field of artificial insemination of queen bees.