Discover Saudi Arabia

Travel: Discover the magnificently sweet source of mangrove honey

This year, the Qatif governorate’s coastline is teaming with bees foraging among the mangrove forests to make honey, which is a result of the collaboration between relevant government entities to obtain the required permits to place 500 beehives near the mangrove forests across Tarut and Saihat.

Travel: Discover the magnificently sweet source of mangrove honey

Driving along the beaches of Tarut, Saihat, and Safwa, a person will pass by places with extensive mangrove forests, and this year some entrepreneurs are monetizing those places sustainably via bees. 

 

Like fruit trees, mangroves grow flowers that turn into small, green fruits, and the bees are loving the nectar they are finding.

 

Bees produce more honey from mangrove trees in a shorter time compared to other trees, said Ali Abdulaziz Al-Ali, a part-time beekeeper with 35 years of experience in the field. The high concentration of nectar in the mangrove’s flowers, and numerous mangrove trees, are likely reasons for this high performance, he said. 

The mangrove honey has a very sweet, moisty tasty, with a delightful touch of tart. 

 

Mangrove yellow flowers start to bloom from mid-May to the early July, Al-Ali said. The timing is important because there are no flowers blooming in the Eastern Province, and so mangroves can extend the season for beekeepers, which can significantly improve the sustainability of their small businesses. 

 

This year, the Qatif governorate’s coastline is teaming with bees foraging among the mangrove forests to make honey, which is a result of the collaboration between relevant government entities to obtain the required permits to place 500 beehives near the mangrove forests across Tarut and Saihat. 

 

The Eastern Region produced 6.25% of honey made in Saudi Arabia, according to data from the General Authority for Statistics. With the oasis of al-Hasa and Qatif having a long history of farming, there is a tradition of beekeeping in the area, Al-Ail noted. 

 

Local entrepreneurs are already investigating other sustainable uses for the mangrove, such as using the leaves as an insert for animal feed, and extracting oil from mangrove fruits for potential cosmetic applications. 

Saudi bees: tough and friendly
Due to its unique ability to tolerate extreme heat, Saudi bees are highly sought after.
This tolerance can be partly explained by the small size of its body and colony, compared to other members of its subspecies, which is the Arabian honey bee.
The scientific name is Apis mellifera jemenitica. Another notable trait is the friendliness of the bees, and how they are less likely to sting people.
The local bees are distinguished by having more yellow coloration. Unfortunately, there is a local bee shortage, so farmers are forced to import bees from abroad, mostly Apis mellifera carnecia from Egypt. In the Eastern Province, these bees mostly die in the hot months of July and August, as they are not adapted to the environment. 
 

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