Jordan’s beekeepers thrive as honey demand skyrockets amidst COVID-19 challenges
Amidst the devastating blow dealt to Jordan’s tourism industry by the Covid-19 pandemic, a silver lining emerges for the nation’s beekeepers. The soaring demand for honey has kept their hives buzzing with activity, showcasing the resilience of this sector in challenging times.
Jordan, home to approximately 4,000 dedicated apiarists, has witnessed a remarkable surge in the production of the coveted golden liquid renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties and numerous health benefits. Although the scientific community has yet to reach a consensus on honey’s efficacy in combating Covid-19, many individuals infected with the virus have turned to this natural remedy to alleviate symptoms such as sore throats..
Beekeeper Mutasim Hammad, a former retiree from the public security directorate who transitioned his hobby into a full-time occupation, expressed his appreciation for the positive impact of the Covid era. Dressed in a protective white suit, Hammad tends to his 80 bee hives in Irbid, located 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Amman. He attested to the increased demand for honey during this period and the growing awareness among people regarding its value. Hammad, who sells around 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of honey annually, highlighted the shift towards locally produced honey, which guarantees quality and authenticity.
Jordan takes pride in its rich variety of honey, boasting 19 different types derived from bees pollinating various plants, including citrus, eucalyptus, and maple. According to Mohammad Rababaa, the head of the Jordan Beekeeping Association, the country’s abundant flora contributes to the unique therapeutic and nutritional properties found in Jordanian honey, surpassing those of other types. Rababaa emphasized the exceptional qualities of maple honey, which contains high levels of phenolic compounds and antioxidants, indicating its elevated value.
Rababaa further noted that the demand for locally produced honey has experienced a noticeable surge since the Covid-19 pandemic began. He highlighted that the sector encompasses a significantly larger workforce than the official count of approximately 1,400 beekeepers recognized by the Jordanian authorities. Rababaa, a professor of Natural Resources and Environment at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, revealed that Jordanian beekeepers collectively produce between 700 and 800 tonnes of honey each year, fulfilling approximately 70 percent of the nation’s domestic requirements. He expressed confidence in the country’s near self-sufficiency and called for a halt in honey imports.
Another enthusiast, Mohammad Khatib, a French language professor at Al-Bayt University, attributed his increased involvement in beekeeping to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. The ample time afforded by these circumstances enabled him to deepen his understanding of bees and provide them with optimal care. Currently tending to 15 bee boxes in his garden, Khatib enjoys a supplementary income from honey sales. He emphasized that customers are seeking reliable honey, with some even placing orders a year in advance.
Jordanian honey is priced between 15 to 30 dinars ($21 to $42) per kilogram, depending on the variety. Rababaa stressed that the economic benefits of the industry extend beyond honey itself. The sector also yields pollen, royal jelly, wax, propolis, and bee venom, which find application in numerous therapeutic compounds.
Moreover, the significance of bees and other pollinators in maintaining a healthy ecosystem cannot be overstated. Their vital role in plant pollination delivers an invaluable service, with Rababaa noting that the economic value of crop pollination surpasses $100 million, whereas the beekeeping sector generates approximately $28 million annually.
Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Jordan’s beekeepers have found solace in the surging demand for honey. This unexpected success story highlights the resilience of the sector and the growing appreciation for the natural benefits provided by locally produced honey.