Oman is full of surprises tucked away in dusty corners of this vast land. Honey bees are just one example. However, it should be no surprise that apiarists cultivate liquid gold from the honey bee. The Qur'an speaks highly, and encourages this ancient craft:
And your Lord revealed to the bee saying: Make hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they build: Then eat of all the fruits and walk in the ways of your Lord submissively. There comes forth from within it a beverage of many colours, in which there is healing for men; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect. (The Qur'an, An-Nahl 16.68-69)
In this episode of the Sultanate, I enlist the help of my friend Yasir al Thahli to teach me more about this quiet past time. Yasir keeps his own bees on his farm in the Hajar Mountains, and when you ask him just one question about bee keeping, you quickly realize how passionate he is about bees. Especially for their delicious product, honey. Being a young man, Yasir is still new to this craft, but learning from his mentor and friend, Omar.
Omar al Hatmi is one of a handful of bee keepers who use the traditional Omani bee house, a hollowed out date palm trunk, laid on its side. I discovered during my visit, that there are only three other locations in the Hajar Mountains that keep bees in this traditional way. The modern square box being more popular for its efficiency.
There are two main types of honey in Oman. Sidr and Smer, named after the trees that offer their precious nectar. Samr, which is harvested in the summer, is dark in color and tick in consistency. As opposed to the winter harvested, Sidr, which is light in both color and flavor.
Omani Bee keepers are proud of their product, and ensure it is the highest quality and flavor. Some apiarists even move their bee colonies to different locations to ensure the best outcome.
So, why do some Omani bee keepers use the traditional bee house as opposed to the modern box? Join me as I explore the answer to that question, and more, in the hamlet of Jebal Dawi.
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