Kuwait - Country of Petroleum and Honey
Moustafa A. EL-Shehawy
How do bees come with honey in Kuwait? A question that is frequently stated? Is it from desert or petroleum wells? The oddity is that you hear this question from the Kuwaitis themselves!! So, what about foreigners?!
To answer this question, we say that the bee collects honey from nectar flowers which are different and widespread in Kuwait. The bee eats from nothing but blossoms. It collects the pollen which is the protein aliment and nectar which is the carbohydrate aliment and turns it into honey. And as the Almighty says in the Sura of Bees in the holy Koran. Then eat of all Fruits. They are completely agricultural areas like Al-Wafra, Al-Abdelli and Al-Barr El-Kuwaity. Also there is forestation planting in many places in Kuwait.
We can devide the pastures of bee into three sections:
1) Agriculture regions
These regions include Alwafra, Al-Abdelli, and Al-jahra. It has big farms which are famous for the thickly growing and different plants round the year like clover (Clledicaga sativa), Strawberry (Fragaria graniflora), Sorghum Vulgar and cucumber (Cucumis sativus). That is in addition to leafy vegetables which bloom in many farms either to produce seeds or for mowing it time after time.
It is very useful to bees specially in collecting pollen ; for example watercress (Euruca sativa) and Coriander (Cariandrum sativum). Also there are Cinchona (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and Zizyphus spinchristi or Nabk trees which are planted as buffers for wind. These trees are prevalent in most of farms either for garnish or eating. Beside that, these areas are famous for palm trees Phoenix dactylifera which produce dates. It is considered one of the oldest trees which were planted in Kuwait, and according to its historical, commercial and social importance, the Kuwaitis have concentrated on increasing palm trees in the country.
I myself consider palm trees as the divine angle for protecting bees in Kuwait. That is because it provides bee with pollen which are important in animating the queen to lay eggs, specially that the virile cones ripen at different times. That is because of the variety of the planted kinds which are estimated by more than two thousand kinds like Al-halawy, Al-khalas, Al-Hayati, Al-Breem, Lilwy, Al-Barahy, Al-Saamran, Al-Maktoom, Al-Hassawy, Al-Ashkar, Al-Zaghlool and Al-Maghool.
I have noticed the blooming of virile cones in palm trees which exist in the main streets of Mushrif region. That in the second half of December, and the rest of the cones start blooming till the middle of February. We find that all these trees shrubs, and crops have sources of nectar and pollen , a thing which leads to the success of apiculture in these regions. The most important plant in this field is clover (Alget). It is the main crop of Forage and also one of the most important resources of nectar and pollen seeds except that it's frequent cut and not producing seeds, both reduce the crop for producing honey in Kuwait. The most important amenity is that the planted areas are very wide and it can not be cut all at once. Usually the farmers make a cut every 20 - 25 days. If the cut is deleted, the blossoms appear; that helps the bees to collect large quantities of honey.
Usually, the apiarist notes that the bees don't care about blossoms in the first periods of blooming and thinks that clover is not useful for bees. The truth is that bees don't care because in the first after the third and forth cut.
In Kuwait, the clover (Alget) is planted in two different seasons. The first in September and November. The second in February and April. It has been noticed that the existed classes in clover regions spend winter in a very good condition during the first season. Usually the clover blooms in the second seasons in may, and we can secrete these classes more than once. The first secretion is in the middle of June and the second one is by the end of it. This proves that clover is considered the main crop for producing honey in Kuwait. The honey of this plant is light colored, thickly and rich in vitamins and minerals.
In the second level comes sorghum (Sudan's grass) which is planted largely in agriculture regions as it is considered one of the most important green summery plants of fodder. Its seeds are used in the industry of flour or fodder. It is a summery, rectangular and annual plant with ribbon leaves. The stem may branch out and the spikes appear at the end of the stem carrying the blossoms which are full of nectar and pollen seeds.
* Bee ghost
The coriander is another important plant for bees in these agriculture regions. A wintry annual plant, planted either for leaves or fruits. The leaves are lobed deeply, and looks like parsley except that it has a distinctive smell when the weather gets hot. The blossoms are given in an umbel flowers, from which the bees collect nectar and pollen seeds. An increase has been noted in bees activity and the queen's rate of laying eggs in apiaries which have coriander specially because it blooms early in winter. We can designate the coriander as bee ghost. That is due to the unusual animation which this plant gives to bee classes. Watercress comes in the third order as many farmers plant it because it endures cruciferous water and also it doesn't need a lot of agriculture service. It is marked by fast and strong growth. The farmers can take several cuts during the wintry season and the beginning of spring, when it gets hotter, the floral racemes start to appear and the bees collect its food from it.
2) Inhabited regions
Most of the inhabited regions are famous for growing garnish plants and varied flowers which are planted in house gardens, schools, public institutions, roads and forestation farms like sunflower (Helianthus annus), basil (musk) (Melissa officinalis) and Vitex angus castusl. The most important plants are:
- Nabk trees Ziziphus spina christi. This sacred tree is considered the most important tree at all for producing honey in the inhabitant regions. This honey has several merits and fragrant smell which attracts citizens to buy it. This tree is planted for garnish, shade and its sweet fruits (nabk - Knar). The tree blooms in the middle of October. The bees collect the nectar from it and turn it into honey which is Known as Nabk honey or wintry honey and it is secreted by the end of November.
- Camphor tree (Cinchona) Eucalyptus. This tree is prevalent in streets and major roads in most of Kuwait's regions specially Al-Ahmady and Al-Sabaheya. The word Eucalyptus is designated for several kinds of camphor. In the reported encyclopedia of the American company ROOT, that the camphor has 600 kind, many kinds of it exist in Kuwait. The large number of these kinds leads to many advantages, most important of it is the succession of blooming. And we noticed that most kinds bloom at the beginning of May and other kinds bloom in winter.
- Acacia (Prosopis fracta). The willow trees are as important for bees as nabk and cinchona ones. They spread in public and private gardens, major roads and forestation projects in desert places which are near the inhabitant regions. This tree indoors high saltines which helps to prevail this tree in Kuwait. The main stem is rectangular with branches and complex plumy leaves with mutual position on the stem. The flowers are yellow and ecru. If produce nectar and pollen seeds which avail the bee and give good tasted honey. In addition to that, there are several kinds of willow which provides bee with nectar like Salix cape, S. vimiinalis, But the rest of the kinds like S. alba, purpurea are rich in pollen seeds which help in brooding.
- Albizzia lebbeck benth. A tree with complex plumy leaves which blooms in summer. This tree indoors the saltiness of cruciferous water and also the processed culvert water.
- Oleander taevetia nereifolia, Juss. A tree that is prevalent in all regions of Kuwait, specially El-Romethya. A tree with beautiful yellow calyx which appear in groups, almost like clusters. Large groups of bee are seen coming in and out of the big calyxes.
- Mimosa acacia farnesiana (wild). A spiny trees with complex plumy leaves which carry many yellow global blossoms, the smell of these blossoms is very distinctive as if has volatile oil in it. This tree is planted largely in public and private gardens as a fencing plant. It has also medical importance. It blooms in April and blooming and it existed greatly in Al-Abdaelli.
- Acacia salisina. A huge green rectangular tree with yellowish global blooms which produce pods. These pods are black with red ends. It is considered one of the most beautiful garnish trees with no thorns. This tree has been brought in Kuwait recently. It proved a great success in resisting the severe weather of Kuwait.
- Sunflower Helianthus annuus. An annual plant with a main big root and strong thick stem. It carries the blossoms in summit flowers which contains external radial and internal secluded flowers which make the fruits. The diameter of the flower ranges between 15 - 70 cm. It blooms by the end of June till the beginning of July. It has large quantities of pollen seeds and nectar. The honey of this plant has amber color and a good taste.
* Forestation Farms
These farms are spread in desert places of the inhabitant regions. The country built it according to the forestation plan of Kuwait for many reasons. These farms are rich in nabk trees on different periods of the years.
And here lies in its importance for bees and apiarists. You Kuwati apiarist can imagine the large number of trees in the forestation farms of Al-Ahmady. Trees that are sufficient for thousands of bee classes. These farms have:
- 1411 Camphor tree. Eucalyptus climates.
- 295 Camphor tree. E. Alba spp.
- 7068 tree. ziziphus.
- 9468 willow tree prosopis
- 568 Palm tree. Barahy.
These farms are considered as the most important regions for apiculture in Kuwait. It is worth mentioning to say that Kuwait should build more farms and allow the apiarists to put their apiaries in it. This will help to advance apiculture in Kuwait.
3) Land regions
These regions extended from Al gahraa to Al- Abadly and from Al zoor to Al wafra. These regions have more than 380 kind of wild plants which the researchers in Kuwait have divided in two groups. The first group includes the annual or bi-annual plants which increase after rain and complete its life cycle in a short time. The second group includes the lasting plants. It usually has deep roots and depends on using the humidity and the scarce water in the soil.
We notice that many of the wild plants specially the annual blooms during spring and cover the desert with beautiful greenness. A lot of these plants a vail the bees as it collect the pollen seeds from it, for example:
- Oxeye - Anthemis deserti. A crunched, rectangular and annual plant with complex needle leaves. The branches end with floral buds which produce flowers with white petals and radial yellow comb in the middle of it.
- Buttercup - Picris saharea Batt. A wintry annual plant with spread leaves directly over the ground. The leaves are simple and lobed. The blooms are at the end of the branches. They are yellow and brown in the middle. This plant prevails in Kuwait's desert. It depends on rain, so this proves the adequacy of soil for agriculture.
- Sonchus oleraceus. A wintry annual plant with yellow blooms. It grows strongly after rain and the bee likes it. This plant grows in different places if desert, in public and private gardens, roads and farms.
- Convolvulus oxyphyllus Boiss. This plant prevails largely in Al-Atraaf, oumkadeer, Kabed and El-Rawdatean. It looks like El Afrage brt the leaves are short, ribbon, and stretched out. On the stem. The plant is gray with white rosy blooms which appear in winter and spring. It has a medical importance. We noticed that the hives which was put in a convolvulus region have large quantities of Borbolis (beewax). Probably the bees picked it up from this plant and that needs more study.
- Melilot - Melilotus paviflora Dest. A wintry rectangular and annual plant with leaves which look like those of clover. The blooms protrude from the leaves' bottom on the form of flowers with a yellow brownish color which produce corns. It depends on rain and spread largely in Al- Atraaf, Al-Salibeya and Al-Baten valley. The melilot blooms in March and its honey is light yellow. It's a good quality so we advice the apiarists in Kuwait to put their apiaries in the regions of this plant. The bee don't get near this plant unless the nectar is abundant.
- Brassica tourneforlii Gouan. A wintry annual plant which spread in Kuwait's desert specially Al-Baten valley, Al-Salibeya, and Al-Atraaf. It blooms in March. The blossoms are yellow with large quantities of pollen seeds. This plant produces a good kind of honey but it granulates fast just like all the kinds of honey which are produced from cruciferae.
- Arnebia decumbens coss et Karl. A wintry desert and annual plant. Its yellow calyx blossoms bloom in spring. This plant blooms early and this proves the adequacy of soil. It prevails in Al-Kabed, Al-Atraaf, own kadeer, own Al-Aish, and Al-Baten valley.
- Ammi sp. A wintry annual plant. The blossoms protrude from the heart of the leaves on the form of yellow umbel blossoms. It has medical and remedial importance. All these plants, wild herbs and many others which the researchers need to know, are very useful for apiarists. specially those who want to follow the roving method in apiculture in order to animate their hives and produce vernal honey out of these plants. Also, the responsible institutions for vindicating enviroment van build apiaries in these regions to protect wild plants from extinction. That is because a lot of wild plants are relevant to bees, since it work as pollinating factors for blossoms.
Bees and Iraq invasion
It is already known that honey bee is considered indispensable in protecting wild plants from extinction specially after the destruction which the Iraq invasion had caused to desert enviroment. That, in addition to eliminating the pollinated insects which build their rests in the ground. For example bumblebee which take burrows and hales for shelter. The continual movement of ironclads and vehicles beside digging trenches, have killed these insects and led to rarefy the enviromental balance physically, chemically, and biologically. It is practically obvious that apiculture is knew in Kuwait. There is no accurate information about the beginning of apiculture in Kuwait. But we can set 1988 as the beginning since it is the year of the first course about honey bees which was hold by the general assembly for agriculture and pisciculture. It is also the year in which the Arabic organization of development has made a comprehensive survey for bee races, class number, apiarists, and production of honey in the Arabian countries including Kuwait. As soon as honey bees started its field in Kuwait, the tyrannical invasion of Iraq took place in 2/8/1990 and destroyed everything petroleum wells, agriculture and animals, even bees were damaged. After that there were 1207 classes in 1988, they became 7 classes in 1991 according to the statistics of the general assembly for agriculture.
After liberation in February 1991, the construction of Kuwait started again. The country took an interest in agriculture in both productive and garnish sides. The past five years (92-93-94-95-96) has witnessed great concern in agriculture and forestation as a result of a sublime princely wish to turn Kuwait into a green oasis. The agriculture development has been accompanied by an advancement in honey, a thing which made some companies hold the slogan: "Spoon of Kuwait honey an every table in Kuwait". That is due to the citizens' great demand on both Kuwaiti honey and apiculture.
During my work and scientific researches I have made several studies and researches to put scientific basics for advancing honey bees in Kuwait, developing apiaries and encouraging investment in the apiculture field. According to these studies we find that 3/8/1997 the class number of bee in Kuwait was 1731 class distributed on most of Kuwait regions. The largest class number exists in Al-Wafra which has 499 class. Second to if is Al-Abadly with 242 classes. Finally Al-Sabahya with 196 classes.
Most important regions of apiaries in Kuwait
Species of Kuwaiti honey
As a result of the studies I have made, we conclude that, Kuwait produce 193/3 kg of honey yearly (16 tons and 3/3 kg) since the average of class production of honey in 1997 has reached 9.42 kg. This quantity differs according to the region and the picking. We can divide the Kuwaiti honey to three species:
- Vernal honey
This honey is picked in the second half of April in the ground regions, and round may in agriculture and dwelling regions. It is called vernal honey referring to the various blossoms which bloomed in March and April. According to Al-Shahawy statistics in 1997, Kuwait produce. 8843 kg of this honey. We also see that the average of class production in Al-Sabahya was 11.25 kg, Al-Abadly 9.4 kg, Al-Ramilhya and Al-Shalihat 7.8 kg and finally Al-Areedyea 6.9 kg per class. Worthy to mention that this honey is light colored and relatively thin. It is sold for 15 dinars a kilo in Kuwait markets.
- Summer honey
It is picked from the middle of June till the middle of July in dwelling regions. It is the product of willow, acacia and cinchona trees. As for the agriculture regions, if is the product of clover blossoms (Alget). We can harvest the classes of these regions once or twice during this period. Yet in the ground regions, there is no honey to pick in this period. According to the researchers' statistic, Kuwait produce 6058 kg yearly of this honey. It is sold for 15 dinars a kilo.
- Winter honey
It is picked in November. It is called winter honey or (nabk honey) referring to the blossoms of nabk trees. It is secreted basically in dwelling regions and some agriculture areas which are rich in nabk trees. This honey is highly demanded by citizens for its medical and remedial qualities in addition to the excellent taste and fragrant smell. According to the statistic. Kuwait produce 1912 kg yearly. It is sold for 25 dinars a kilo. As a result for the decreased quantity of honey which is produced from nabk trees, the honey merchants import large quantities of Yemeni, Pakestani, and Irani nabk trees. This is due to the consumer's high demand on this kind. However the local product is now preferred after what the scientific researches have proved. It says that the produced honey in a certain region is more useful in curing the inhabitant of this region.
Reasons of the dwindling production of nabk honey
The decreased proportion that is produced of nabk honey is due to several basic factors:
- The scarce pastures of nabk trees
Despite that nabk trees exist largely in private and public gardens and roads, yet they are not enough to avail bees in Kuwait. So, the concerned authorities should grow this tree heavily either in roads or forestation farms, and the owners of farms should plant it as buffers for wind. The general assembly for agriculture should make these trees available and provide the required services to let these plants succeed. The assembly also should combat worms which spoil the trees and make the farmers avoid planting it.
- Debility of classes
As a result for the severe summer which overrun the country in July and August, the queens stop laying eggs. That is because of the lack of pollen seeds in these months, and also because the bees are concerned in softening the low temperatures. So, the hives which have been saved start the nabk season very weak, hence it pick small quantities of nabk honey. These quantities can be geminated if the apiarist starts the season strongly. This can be accomplished by importing parcels of bees by the beginning of October in order to produce the most possible quantities of this honey. Also, in summer all apiaries should be fortified with proteins and carbohydrates to encourage the queens on laying eggs. If the classes starts the nabk season in good condition, that helps to pick large quantities of nabk honey.
Moustafa A. EL-Shehawy
20 El-Sowk St.
Tel / Fax: ( 002048375995)
Web: El-Shehawy MA
- Ibraheem El Areed and others(1995) - Eatable wild plants in Saudia - Al-Moalmeen college - Riyad 1995
- Saad El-Sebeai (1994) - Kuwaiti honey - Al-Watan Newspaper 1994
- EL-Shehawy, M.A (1993) - [The Bees are my friends]. El-Shehawy apiaries - Quesina (32631) - Menoufia -Egypt 211pp. ISBN 977-00-6345-2.
- EL-Shehawy, M.A (1996) - [Evaluation for some reigns of vernal honey in KUWAIT] - APICULTURE, NO.2 OCT.NOV.1996 - Printed by (M.A.K.A)-EGYPT
- EL-Shehawy, M.A. (1997) - [Bee fields in KUWAIT - regions - types - obstacles] - AL-TAKADDOM EL-ELMI , NO.19 July / September 1997. KUWAIT
- EL-Shehawy, M.A. (1998) - [Types of KUWAIT honey] APICULTURE, NO.6 Mohammed Atya Ewais Notes of honey bee - General Assembly of Agriculture & Pisciculture
- Moneer Youssef Sheha - Increasing plant in Kuwait - Kuwait institution for scientific progress 1994
- Various newspapers and magazines including Al-Nahda, AlMaaggara, Al-Mozareh, Public opinion, Al-Watan, Kuwait policy