The sharp depreciation of the Syrian pound has had a strong impact on economic life in Syria, and beekeepers in the country are no exception. To talk more about beekeeping and how business is faring in the current circumstances, I conducted an interview with the apiaries of Zain al-Abideen Taraf, located in the al-Qardaha area of Latakia province. This interview was conducted on 28 May 2020. It is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself?
A: I have been a beekeeper for around 25 years. I am from Syria and I live in Latakia province in the al-Qardaha area, specifically in the district of al-Fakhura, a village called Tarmi located at the beginning of the Latakia mountains.
Q: How is the business of beekeeping these days?
A: The prices of bees are very elevated from necessities and goods for nurturing the colonies of bees in general, and the production of honey has decreased in the past years because of situation in Syria and the difficulty of moving among the pastures.
Q: So the matters are difficult because of the rise of the prices of goods?
A: The prices have gone crazy especially in the past two months. A year ago the prices were excellent for the beekeeper regarding the necessities of the bees in general. For example the wooden hive was 5000 Syrian pounds, this year 22,000 Syrian pounds, and the wooden framework was 100 Syrian pounds, this year 500 Syrian pounds. Last year the wax was 2500 Syrian pounds, this year 8000 Syrian pounds. And this year the production on the citruses was zero, on the fennel flower [/nigella sativa] 10% and on the anise it will be 50%.
Q: Do you believe that the expensive prices are because of the sanctions on Syria in the first degree?
A: Yes the prices are due to the economic siege on Syria. With the corona disaster things have gone from bad to worse. The prices of honey are very elevated because of the rise of prices of the basic goods for the necessities of the bees.
Q: Are there any aid organisations [/NGOs] helping the efforts of beekeepers in your area or other areas?
A: There are no aid organisations helping us in this field at all. We have the Union of the Association of Beekeepers and the Arab Secretariat for Beekeeping but as I have said they have no [positive] impact and they work to exploit the beekeeper and not to help the beekeeper. But I thank the Agriculture Ministry in Syria for offering aid to the Syrian beekeeper, securing for him the movement between the pastures, giving every beekeeper a card by which he can move between the pastures in all the areas of Syria, and facilitating matters for him in this field.
Q: Has the weather impacted beekeeping or honey production in any way?
A: The weather factor has impacted a lot the production of honey this year but in the past years most of it [i.e. the impact on honey production in those years] was because of the terrorism present on the Syrian lands supported by the Western governments like America, Britain, France and Ottoman Turkey, spiteful towards the Syrian people, collaborating with the Zionist people, and support of the terrorists on the Syrian land.*
Q: Do you have a message for the Syrian government?
A: Our message to the Syrian government is to support the beekeeper and secure for him the pastures and planting of flowering trees like the Paulownia and the Eucalyptus trees, and not to import goods for spraying pesticides that are toxic to bees and are leading to the death of colonies of bees in a very terrifying sense, especially the systemic herbicides.
Update (10 June 2020): typos corrected.
(Update 14 June 2020): As the interviewee clarified in subsequent comments:
'[I describe Turkey as such] because it [Turkey] is trying to revive its glories and occupy as was its past era in its occupation of Bilad al-Sham for 400 years. It and the Western governments together [are spiteful against the Syrian people etc.]. And you as a media guy know what is occurring from agreements and Turkey covers itself with the name of Islam but it and the Masonic West are trying to break the barrier and Judaify Islam on the basis that it is terrorist Islam and thus they distort the image of Islam in the world. And notice how the Satanic Masonic column has been erected in Turkey, and this is the greatest evidence that Erdogan and government [of Turkey] have followed the alliance of Satan [led] by Britain and the Americans, because it [Turkey] is likewise, brother Aymenn, that you notice how it [Turkey] deals with Iraq and violates the international laws and [also] with Syria, how it deals with and normalises with the Zionists against the Syrian people and supports the terrorists and offers them weapons to kill the people and terrorises the world, and even trains the terrorists on its land and from there inserts them to kill the Syrian people. And in these days notice how it steals the wheat and barley crop from the Syrian lands in al-Hasakah, brings in its vehicles and harvests the wheat and steals it. In addition it burns the agricultural crops to break the Syrian economy and starve the Syrian people and besiege them from all directions in coordination with the Zionists and West.'