News ID: 115217
Publish Date : 20 May 2023 - 22:49

Gaza Beekeeper Tends Hives by Restive Fence

JABALIA (Dispatches) – In a field close to the Gaza Strip’s restive fence, apiarist Miassar Khoudair checks that her queen bee has survived five days of deadly fire between Palestinian fighters and the Zionist regime’s army.
“The bees die from the gases, the rockets and dust as a result of the war,” said the 29-year-old, dressed in a protective white bee suit.
Ahead of World Bee Day on Saturday — which aims to raise the profile of these vital pollinators — Khoudair has returned to her colony just a few hundred meters from the fence.
In the latest escalation in hostilities between the occupying regime and Gaza’s resistance movements, Khoudair was unable to access the hives amid outgoing Palestinian retaliatory rocket fire and incoming Zionist airstrikes, with three or four of the apiaries destroyed.
Beyond the grass and trees surrounding Khoudair’s hives, a flag of Islamic Jihad flies in an adjacent field.
Despite the dangers, the frontier’s farmland offers some of the only areas in Gaza’s densely-populated urban environment suitable for beekeeping.
“We always put them near the fence, because there are lots of trees and wild plants, and there aren’t many buildings or overcrowding,” she said.
The territory is home to some 2.3 million people, who have endured an Israeli-led blockade since 2007.
Cross-border trade was halted until a ceasefire on Saturday took hold and the fighting also damaged an estimated 600 dunams (0.6 sq km) of crops.
The value of losses to beehives, poultry farms and livestock reached $225,000, according to the Palestinian government’s media office.
The conflict halted daily life and prevented Khoudair from selling honey at her store in a usually buzzing mall in downtown Gaza City.
Khoudair studied herbal medicine and as well as selling traditional eating honey, she also sells honey-based infusions to treat everything from problems of concentration to fertility issues.
“If the honey’s of high quality, it’s very treatable. There are some mixtures added to the honey, and here it treats childbearing,” she said, without elaborating.
Khoudair started her business a few months ago after studying honey and herbal medicine in Saudi Arabia, she said.
“While I was in Saudi Arabia, I found they have the idea of honey, their love for honey, their interest in honey, as a remedy and a supplement on the table to my lunch,” she said.
With 45 percent unemployment in Gaza, according to the International Monetary Fund, Khoudair’s bees provide her with a job.
“It’s a very beneficial project, and I rely on myself as a woman,” she said.
Standing beside her colony after inspecting her hives — resulting in a few stings to her hands — Khoudair urged people beyond Gaza’s fence to “care about the bees’ produce.”
“Honey was mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, we take it therapeutically, not just in a nutritional way, and it’s healthy and strengthened with vitamins,” she said, above the drone of her bees.