Final Report From Consulting Trip (May 17 through 1 June 2005) With Reference to DAI Beekeeping Projects in Iraq




Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford

Professor Emeritus

University of  Florida


The following is a report on findings during a consulting trip under the auspices of  Development Alternatives Inc., (DAI) main contractor for Agricultural Reconstruction and  Development in Iraq (ARDI).  The general situation is that conflict over the last decade and a half has devastated the beekeeping industry of Iraq, which at one time was a thriving  activity with an estimated half million colonies of honey bees managed by a majority of the rural population.  Most of these were traditional hives made up of a woven basket covered (mortared) with a water-wood ash mixture.  Ash is preferred over mud because it weighs less and may have superior insulation properties.  The nest is managed from the rear (surplus honey is removed) and beekeepers make increases from swarming. 


Current efforts by ARDI are to help rebuild a viable beekeeping industry since an interest and in many cases experience in the craft already exists.  This seeks to emphasize transition of beekeeping from traditional technology to movable-frame hives in rural villages.  I was asked to specifically review several ongoing projects that have already been funded and will be funded in the very near future.  These include a project teaching beekeeping in rural villages, an extension and teaching facility in Rashidia, a queen-rearing  facility in Kerbala, and the possibility of installing several centers around  the country to produce foundation  from recycled beeswax.  Finally, ARDI is actively assisting in the formation of a number of regional beekeeping associations.


Two papers were available to me providing a background based on projects funded by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FA) in 1996. 


“General Status of Apiculture in Iraq” by FAO Consultant Dr. V. Sivaram: <>


  1. “Most of the work was not done in the three northern governorates.  Thus, there was no census of beekeeping activity nor disease incidence.”  My comment:  This information is a priority in terms of making specific recommendations in the country.  In contrast to this study most of my activities were in the northern part of the country (Kurdistan).  I found statistics being compiled both in the towns of Dahuk and Suliamanyha by beekeepers associations.


  1. American and European foulbrood:
    1. “Most of present diseases are due to importation of bees and queens.”  My comment: uncontrolled importation of bee stock must be avoided for this reason.
    2. “Although most beekeepers are using chemicals, many are not effective due to poor quality.”  My comment: There may also be resistance by the diseases to the chemicals.  It is recommended to use an IPM approach when considering treatments, not use them “automatically.”  This could be implemented as part of an overall IPM educational effort already  underway in other areas of agriculture by ARDI.  Research will be required to determine economic thresholds.
    3. “AFB was found only in Bagdad and Mosul.”  This leads to the question of how widespread it really is and its extent in the north and elsewhere? 


  1. Varroa mite infestation is high from 10% to 40%.”  My comment:   It is not clear how this was determined.  The consultant’s statements are inconsistent with reference to mite control, but I am likely to believe that resistance to both Bayvarol and Apistan presently exist as it does in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. 



  1. “Biological control is suggested to control Varroa. “ My comment:  “biological control” for Varroa does not exist at the present time.  However, the consultant might have meant “biomechanical control” using screened bottom boards and drone trapping.  These work well under certain conditions.  There is also no mention of the role of soft chemicals like the organic acids (formic and oxalic) or essential oils (thymol) in mite control.  Two other treatments, the “sugar shake” and use of  sucrocide octanate  are also available and worth exploring.  All of these are more labor intensive and often require more treatments to be effective than the current hard  pesticides of  fluvalinate (Apistan®),  flumethrine (Bayvarol®) and coumaphos (CheckMite+®).


  1. Breeding Varroa-resistant bees is mentioned.”  My comment:  This should be pursued aggressively.  Survivor bees that have not been treated seem to exist.   It may be possible to consider a controlled introduction of bees that are known to be tolerant as was the case for Russian stock in the U.S.  But the operative word is “controlled.”   


I agree with all of the recommendations by the author and especially with “There should be a rigorous policy in restriction on the import of bees to avoid  new diseases.”  The veterinary service in most countries in the world regulate honey bees as domestic animals.  This could happen in Iraq as well, however, I understand the service does not incorporate honey bees into its program, leaving a gap in terms of potential control of this vital activity.  I  did not talk to any veterinarians when I was in the country.


“Beekeeping for People Living in Countries Under Stress (Iraq and Afghanistan)” by Nicola Bradbear:  <>


“Bee stocks are a mixed bag of bees imported from Egypt, Italy, Jourdan, the UK and elsewhere.”  My comment:   This is true in most areas  of the world.   Importing bees from elsewhere is generally not a good practice as noted elsewhere and should be discouraged.


“Beekeepers believe the switch from mixed farming to monoculture has made beekeeping more difficult.  (pesticide use and shifting of plant resources).”  My comment:  A beekeeping calendar needs to be developed in local areas, kept up to date and  coordinated with pesticide applications for other agricultural crops; nectar resources are always changing.  This has been accomplished for the northern zone and 1,000 copies of a poster based on this information have been distributed.  I was unable to verify the quality of this information because an English copy was not made available to me.


“One serious lack is a source of foundation.  Embossed rollers are not available and lack of clean foundation has had serious implications in bee health.”  My comment:  Inexpensive hand foundation makers are available in Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere (Ecuador) and could be purchased inexpensively and provided on a distributed basis.  The current project of distributing foundation from a central point through wax processing done in bulk is prone to problems.  Who runs the processing? how is wax collected?  I believe this would be more prone to abuse than a distributive system, but it ultimately depends on the volume of foundation needed throughout the year, which to my knowledge has yet to be determined, although the amount of  block wax collected is about 55 tons.  An issue that needs addressing is what should be the dimensions  of  the foundation?  Probably more European 5.2 mm rather than the smaller 4.9 mm.


Notes on Specific Visits of the Consultant across northern Iraq (Kurdistan):


May 22nd 2005


Meeting with in Shaqlawa with Gulal Beekeepers Association


Notes from this meeting show that this Association consists of beekeepers with a wide range of experience.  They are just about to finalize the papers for their association.  An overriding concern is a place to meet.  Those in attendance are convinced that a building for their activities would go a long way toward accomplishing their goals. 


I ask that we go around the room and that each person (all men) there tell us how long they have been beekeepers, how many colonies they manage and their biggest problem.  Most are commercial running from 400 to 70 colonies, averaging around 100 perhaps; there is one hobbyist (5 colonies), who’s bees are run by someone else.  The problem stating portion of the exercise revealed location, adulteration and honey quality and marketing, and problems getting stock to be most significant.  The location situation was surprising, but perhaps not so for the beekeeper who moves 4 times a year; perhaps road quality is an issue; later I find out security is too.  In addition, as one gets closer to the border, more and more land mines have been laid (Iraq/Iran war).  Cheap honey from Iran; the border is not too far away, is a big concern as local honey is more expensive and commands a premium price. Customers are not informed about honey; many think crystallized honey has gone bad.  There are concerns about adulteration as well; I was asked how to distinguish “good” from “bad” (adulterated?)  honey.  It is unclear how much imported (Turkey too it seems) and adulterated  honey is coming into the marketplace.  There is no recognition here of use of HFCS as bee food.  We see a book written by one of the beekeepers at the meeting on honey quality translated from both Jack White’s honey composition work and Eva Crane’s volume honey.  Given the references, it appears to be quality information.  Iran’s influence is also felt when it comes to stock in the region; colonies and queens are routinely brought from Iran across the border and sold; indeed one of those in attendance I found out is developing a business on bee trade across the border. Unfortunately, there is little data about what is happening with Iranian beekeeping.


Visits to the downtown area reveal shops with a wide range of bee products.  A trip to a local beeyard revealed a mixed bag of traditional and modern hives, mostly weak.  The modern hives which I will see elsewhere are a mixture or FAO (Italian),  Iranian and  U.S. styles.


May 23rd 2005


Meeting Agriculture Directorate – Erbil


1-     Mr. Abdul-Rahim Omer  (Head of Plant Protection Department in MOA/Erbil) has written a book “Introduction to Beekeeping,” which incorporates his work in the foothills near Erbil that looked at honey production at four different locations in separate altitudes.  He said the book is being translated from Arabic to Kurdish.  Originally only a 1,000 copies were printed.  He is clearly an official of importance to the success of beekeeping in the region.  He confirms that most bees coming into Iraq are from Iran and that beekeepers have good relations with Iranians to the point that some Iraqis sold the hives provided them by FAO to Iraq.  One only sees in local apiaries a few of these; the rest were sold.  In addition, there is active transport of colonies across the border. 


Meeting in Agriculture CollegeSalhadin University                 


A visit to the apiary hosted reveals a compound with two buildings (one is strictly for the guards, but empty and has a kind of thatch building addendum) and an apiary in immaculate condition.  The bees are weak.    The smoker fuel is burlap and an attendant lights up a smoker, which is a devil to keep going; We notice the communal watering device and an empty communal feeding device (stones in a dish). 


We next visit the houses; they are new looking and when we see what’s stored inside it’s quite remarkable.  Stacks of new equipment, much of it not unpacked.  We see several cases of pierco plastic super frames, a Jenter queen rearing kit, two hand extractors and a large 10-20 frame motorized one.  A sump with heater, settling tank, two single-plate foundation presses and inside a box a hand-powered German foundation  mill.  The obvious conclusion from all this material is that time and  experienced help is lacking to do anything with it at the present time. 


May 24th26th  2005 Sulaimaniyha


The  NGO YAO (Youth Activities Organization) provides an over view of the project.  YAO hires technicians trained by the Ministry of  Agriculture who go out to the villages to train the beekeepers in new technology.  Two villages have been selected as test cases: Bashart and Tappi-Safa.


The project aims to:


• Improve and increase the honey production both in quality and quantity.

• Increase beekeepers income.

• Create an opportunity for inexperienced individuals or Widows, Handicapped, Poor families.

• Support the newly established Bee Department in MOA Sulaimaniyha, by:


1) documenting the work of the project it is processes so that it can be used as a model for future expansion in other areas.


2) update and review the current MOA recommendations and develop materials for dissemination, such as activities calendar which will describe how and when the activities or procedure are to be performed.


3) identify and document problems and possible solutions over the season.


Later I visit one of the villages (Tappi-Saffa) and look at both the demonstration apiary and two smaller ones managed by local residents.  Most of the bees have swarmed and the colonies are weak.  There are many traditional hives present at well. 


From ARDI report September 25, 2004: “Eighty eight cooperating farmers and beekeepers from both villages were selected to participate and implement the project. Cooperating farmers were selected according to the following criteria: 1) beekeepers 2) Widows 3) Handicapped persons 4) Poor families.


“On September 23, 2004 the Management Team of Beekeeping project conducted a site visit to both villages. The objective of the visit was to brief the selected farmers on the project details and to set-up the training location. The training will begin on September 25 2004 for 6 days and it will be conducted by bee experts from Bee Department at General Directorate of Agriculture.”


My questions concern details that I was unable to learn: Who is the management team?  What is their knowledge of bees?  Who taught them? Who are the bee experts from the Bee Department?  What are they saying?  Who taught them?


In conclusion, this project appears to be well thought out and the organization seems to function well.  I am unable to evaluate it thoroughly, however, for I lack critical information on what the trainers are telling the beekeepers in the villages.  It appears that traditional hives may be getting short shrift in the rush to shift to modern moveable-frame hives. 


I would counsel that traditional-hive beekeeping may have a lot to offer that may not be at first apparent, including being a reservoir for Varroa-tolerant bees.  The use of intermediate technology (top-bar beehives) also appears to be totally lacking.  This should be revisited as it has become an excellent method to transition beekeepers from traditional, rustic colonies  to fully-framed colonies  in other parts of the  world.  Curtis Genter’s book on Small Scale  Beekeeping is available  online at:


I also cannot speak to what specifically is being communicated by the trainers with reference to the apicultural calendar, managing swarming and disease outbreaks and other topics.  An important resource for evaluation and continuing the project would be  a booklet publishing best  management practices for all three types of  management systems: 1) traditional; 2) transitional (top bar beekeeping); and 3) movable-frame technology.


Meeting with Kirkuk Bee Keepers Association


Another meeting with a fledgling beekeepers association.  The papers to become an official  association are about filed.  Most of the same concerns as those of

other associations surface. 


Meeting with Sulaimniyha Beekeepers Association (Kurdistan Professional BeekeepersAssociation


This active group has about 1,300 members and also has been successful in having a beekeeping department established in the Suliamanyha Ministry of Agriculture.


From ARDI report  December 6, 2004: “Grant to Establish Beekeeping Training Program: Under its private sector development program, ARDI will be providing grants and technical assistance to help launch and strengthen agricultural producer associations. ARDI has just approved a grant to the Kurdistan Bee Professionals Association (KBPA), a registered NGO formed in 2001 and with a current membership of over 1150 beekeepers. The grant will enable the KBPA to purchase bee hive construction materials and other supplies needed in developing a beekeeping training program.


“In the KBPA training program, farmers will learn improved practices for beekeeping aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of honey production. In the months ahead, ARDI will be providing the KBPA with technical and organization development assistance, so that eventually the association can be seen as a model for success that other newly-formed associations can learn from and emulate.”


I saw a picture of this facility, but did not visit.   It is difficult to evaluate its effectiveness at the present time since it has yet to be fully operational.  The people I talk to, including one member who will be going to the U.S., Arizona State U., seem well versed in beekeeping. 


I visit the office of Ministry’s General Director of General Foundation Research and agricultural extension.  He remarks that the potential breeding center in Rashidia would not be the best thing for this region, which has many wild bees that could be relied on for stock.  I note that the location of the center need not be where the stock is ultimately used, but certainly stock coming from the center could be tested and adjusted based on its results in various regions.


It comes to mind that a queen rearing workshop might be an excellent activity for the professional association with its in excess of 1300 members.  Also at this office we see the same people who were both in the field yesterday and the evening before in the Professional meeting.  The professionals seem to have gotten the ear of the Ministry and been given office space here. 


Most Important:  The data presented in printed format: 6,000 tons of honey; number of colonies, etc. is a valuable resource.  It is supposed to be translated soon.


May 28 2005 Dahuk


Meeting with Kurdistan Agriculture and Reconstruction and Development Orginzation again revealed that beekeeping development in urban areas is moving forward.  This association is just about to become an entity of its own.  Right now it is under the auspices of KARDO.  Questions revealed the following answers:


An academic (U. of Dahuk?) been a beekeeper since 1977; had 250 colonies before varroa (no traditional ones) now runs 80, averages 15-17 kilos.  Hard time finding equipment; no trade with Turkey at present. 


Beekeeper for 11 years, growing  from 2  to 250 colonies; sold 160 to other local beekeepers to reduce his  work load, avg 15-17 Kilos.  Reports no big problems.  We visit his apiary in the shade above the lake made by  a huge dam upriver from Dahuk.  A mixture of  hive types seen.  No traditional hives; see a dead bee eater (Yellow-Cheeked Bee Eater), one of five species from Africa.


Seven-year beekeeper, started in 1998 with 17 traditional hives; only five remain.  He uses them to produce swarms for his boxes.  Has an issue with  Iranian  equipment being inferior to both Italian and U.S. models; averages 20 kilos.  Until 1991 he used US model  then switched  when the  FAO project began handing out equipment in 1996 (some  40,000 hives were handed out) ; also standards of honey a problem.


Only woman; a beekeeper for two years; started  with six colonies now has 21; upscale hobbyist…had a disastrous winter; lost several…averaged  3 kilos the next year

No standard honey jars available.


President of  the Assn a beekeeper since 1980, he currently manages no colonies and was embarrassed to have to say so.  He told same, sad story about villages and bees destroyed; then came the UN program 1996, funded by Oil for Food program.  Latest stats from the President:


December 2004

3,119 beekeepers in Dahuk

41,525 total colonies

15,527 traditional

25,000 modern

Ave production 10-15 kilos


250 people attended the original meeting to get the association off the ground; 15 members make up the organizing committee; potential membership  1,000 to 1,500.  There doesn’t seem to be as much interest here as in Suliamanyha about work with village beekeepers.


We repair to the center of town where we see Langstroth equipment U.S. style in the  making.  They appear to be doing a great job.  We talk about many things; I mention supers don’t have to be of standard over 9” depth..  Most of the measurements are well worked out in the scheme; I take a US. Hoffman frame and see if it will work in the FAO standard super (yes); the carpenter also tells me it works in the Iranian hive.  We see wax foundation; he is making it himself and  it appears to pretty good quality.   I end by talking to the carpenter; I believe he understands the concept of the “bee space” and therefore why the measurements  are they way they are in a standard beehive.


We repair to the man’s apiary above the dam.  Discussion of stock selection reveals that there appear to be many wild (survivor?) colonies in the locale; they are trying to enact regulations to protect their harvesting in the wild by beekeepers and others.  Most seem to agree that survivor bees are available in good quantity in the area.  This is potentially very good news.



May 29 2005 Sidakan


Long day’s travel to look at beekeeping in Sidakan region.  See both traditional and modern hives.  Confirms again that traditional and modern styles are being managed side by side.


May 31 2005: National Beekeeping Meeting Salahaddin University. 


Rundown of ARDI  projects in the pipeline:


  1. Teaching center in Sulaimanyha .
  2. Projects in two villages using efforts of the Kurdistan Professional Beekeepers Assocation,  Ministry of Agriculture and Youth Agencies  Organization  (YAO).
  3. Queen rearing facility in Kerbala
  4. Extension and information center in Rashidia
  5. Formation of  beekeeping associations of Kirkuk, Dahok, Erbil (Chaqlawa)
  6. Wax foundation conversion  project (55 tons block wax)
  7. Carpenter training


Items of interest brought out at this meeting:


  1. How to develop an overall national (all Iraq) strategy on developing beekeeping.
  2. 3,000 members of  the national Association in Baghdad.  Problems with pesticide use, beekeepers can’t move at night, locations, bottling and honey packaging (crystallization)
  3. Suliamanyha has about 7,000 beekeepers and a bee office in the MOA; also training project for professionals and villages.
  4. Erbil, 3,000 potentail members; migration to the mountains, but more cultivation by farmers (vegetables) resulting in bee losses.
  5. Dahuk, need more communication with respect to spraying  on wheat (sunna pest); involved  in building woodenware and training carpenters; also collecting good statistics.
  6. Diyala, forest gone, no water, citrus no longer a big crop (20 tons reduced to 20 kilos); white fly and dubas bug control on date palms required to reduce fungus growth but are potential sources of honey dew.


Outlines of three presentations I made at the seminar:


Varroa Control Worldwide


Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford

Professor Emeritus

University of Florida


Why  I No  Longer Keep Bees

     Too expensive

     Too time consuming

     No longer fun

     Makes me a pesticide applicator

     The reason:  Varroa destructor

Varroa destructor (jacobsoni)?

      A parasitic mite of honey bees (Apis mellifera); also involved in virus transmission

      An exotic (introduced) species

      Relationship with Apis mellifera is immature; a “good” parasite does not kill its host

      Most parasites do not kill their host, Varroa kills the honey bee 98% of time

      The only way to control it quicky – use of pesticides

      Has transformed beekeeping from a let-alone, organic activity to one of pesticide applicator

History of Varroa destructor

      1950s  Crosses over from orginal host (Apis cerana/ Apis indica), which is tolerant or resistant.

      Since then spread worldwide except Australia by beekeepers

      Over 140 chemicals used in an attempt to contol the Varroa mite; very few effective

      Introduced  to U.S. (Florida) 1987

      Fluvalinate first effective in Florida on wooden sticks using Maverik

      Quickly becomes a plastic strip product called Apistan 1991

History of Varroa destructor Chemical Control

      10 years of Apistan effectiveness until resistence set in

      Apistan formulated on a relatively non-toxic molecule fluvalinate (Bayvarol-flumethrine)

      Next product CheckMite+ (2003) will only give about 5 years control, but formulated on a much more toxic substance, coumaphos

      Resistance already appearing; no good product on the horizon

      A huge surprise could be waiting for those who have treated


History of Varroa destructor Chemical Control

      The next 10 years will see fewer and fewer “hard” chemical control products

      “Soft chemical control” will be  the order of the day, but more difficult and less effective

  Organic acids (formic and oxalic acid)

  Essential oils (thymol- Apiguard)

  Others (mineral oil fogger)

  Sucrose octanate – new


Consequences of Pesticide Use

      Contaminated bee nest

      Contaminated honey (water soluble); reputation of honey at stake:

      China (chloramphenicol); Argentina (nitrofurans)

      Contaminated Wax (fat soluble) – world’s beeswax in a sorry state

      Bee behavior at non-lethal levels of pesticide (queens and drones more than  workers?)


What of Biotechnological Controls?

      Drone trapping (drone zapper)

      Screened  bottom board; mites pass through; bees do not

Dislodging mites relatively easy

      Sugar dusting

      Smoke (essential  oils in leaves)

      Used along with pesticides


Breeding and the Use of Resistant Bees

      Survivor or resistant honey bee populations are often found in the wild

      Also being created through purposeful introduction of mites to kill susceptible colonies

      France and Chile, Russia, United States, Iraq?

      Raise queens from them/use knowledge of genetics (breeding) to perpetuate the traits

The Role of Traditional Bees in Iraq

      Traditional colonies are by definition “survival” colonies as there is little maintenance by beekeepers

      Traditional colonies are close to “wild bees”

      Wild colonies in the mountains are the ultimate “survivor” bees

      The bees of traditional hives could be an important genetic source to rear “survivor” stock from


Genetic Tolerance Mechanisms

      Hygienic behavior; bees detect/remove affected larvae, whether it is AFB or Varroa  destructor.  Also remove mites (Brazil) through grooming themselves.

      Suppressed mite reproduction; some  bees have ability to restrict Varroa reproduction in the brood.

The Future

      The era of  pesticide application for Varroa control is coming to a close

      Many will continue to use this  quick fix” method prolonging the agony until it no longer works; most will not be checking for effectiveness and will be unpleasantly surprised when it appears.

      There will continue to be risks of honey, wax, bee and beekeeper chemical contamination

      A future where coexistence between honey bees and Varroa mites is within our reach if we choose to embrace that philosophy.

      I have been waiting an awful long time to begin beekeeping again.



Risks and Rewards of Introduced Stock


Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford

Professor Emeritus

University of Florida


The Universal Problem Solving Technique in Beekeeping

      Problems in honey bee colonies and loss are often unexplainable in simple terms because a complex of reasons is usually at fault.

      Although the reasons are complicated, one thing that solves many problems simultaneously is replacing the queen.

      Because of this beekeepers often resort to introducing queens into their apiary with good  results.

      Stock introduction of this nature can be helpful, but also is a recipe in some cases for disaster.

Risks Related To Distance

      Many beekeepers believe the further distance queens are imported from the more valuable they are.

      However, the same is true for the risks involved.

      Example of worst case scenario:

      Worldwide introduction of Varroa destructor changing western beekeeping forever.

      Introduction of the so-called  killer bee” to Brazil


What Risks does Imported Stock Have for Iraq?

Acarapis woodi, the honey bee tracheal mite is not found in Iraq.

American foulbrood is at a low level, for unknown reasons.

The Asian mite, Tropilaelaps clareae

The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida

Pesticide resistant Varroa destructor mites, decreasing pesticide effectiveness

Apis mellifera capensis – false queens

African bees

What risk does Iraq’s Environment Pose for Imported Stock?

Adapted stock has advantages probably absent in introduced bees:

In the south provides a break in the brood cycle when needed due to heat

Keeps inside the beehive when bee eaters and  oriental wasps (Vespa orientalis) are in the area

Winters in the  north—a stock  for the  north by the mountains; a stock for the south?

Research needed here


The Role of Traditional Bees in Iraq

      Traditional colonies are by definition “survival” colonies as there is little maintenance by beekeepers

      Traditional colonies are close to “wild bees”

      Wild colonies in the mountains are the ultimate “survivor” bees

      The bees of traditional hives could be an important genetic source to rear “survivor” stock from

Questions to Ask

Does the trait already exist in the country?  If  so, why take the risk?

Does the exporting country have a good idea of the kinds of diseases and pests it already has?

Who will control inspection in both the exporting and importing country?

How well trained are the inspection authorities in both the exporting and importing country.

Are alternatives available, such as importing semen only for example.



      Importing queens and stock has often been undertaken without a lot of up-front thought and deliberation.

      It is a complex action that is best monitored by competent authorities who are adequately trained.

      Lacking proper controls, the casual importation of stock is fraught with problems and  perils.  The history books are full of purposeful introductions of organisms between countries that were full of promise and turned out a great deal differently than planned.




How to Increase the Amount of Wax Foundation in Iraqi Beekeeping


Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford

Professor Emeritus

University of Florida


Wax Foundation: The True Basis for Modern Beekeeping

      A recyclable product; can be used over and over

      Guides the bees in their building providing a template for worker honey bees

      Conserves wax: I kilo of wax is equivalent to 7 kilos of honey

      The basis for continued renewal of frames to lower disease potential and rebuild after depredations by wax moths.

Wax  Foundation in Iraq

      Much of  this valuable product must be  imported from other countries

      Expensive due to processing and molding.  A  dangerous  process  (melting not milling) that requires skill

      Many beekeepers have amounts of  wax on hand that could  be turned into foundation

      A system is needed to recycle beeswax from comb to foundation and back to comb in the country

Possible Approaches

      Every beekeeper recycles his or her own wax

  Train beekeepers around the country

  Issue small-scale hand-generated single sheet foundation mills

      Set up processing centers around the country

  Bee associations in charge of taking in block wax and distributing foundation

      Establish one large processing facility for all beekeepers

  Would it be accessible to all?

  How to best receive block wax, process it, and distribute the final foundation




Ongoing objectives based on answers to consultant’s questions that ARDI might pursue:


  1. IPM treatment for both American foulbrood and Varroa as opposed to routine antibiotic and pesticide application.  This is occurring in the U.S. and elsewhere where the treatments used are no longer effective.  This would be something that might be implemented within the other IPM training efforts promoted by ARDI.
  2. Attempting to discover if Varroa-tolerant/resistant (survivor colonies in the wild) honey bee stock exists in areas where beekeeping has been devastated and the feasibility of beginning  a breeding program based on that stock for regions in the country that are likely to be very different from north to south.  The queen rearing/breeding program in Kerbala proposal fits well here.
  3. Avoiding the idea of uncontrolled and capricious introduction of bees and queens from other areas.  This is a major way most diseases and pests are spread.  This is the same recommendation made by by FAO consultant mentioned above.  Some regulatory body is needed like a veterinary service or plant protection department to monitor introductions; beekeepers are notorious for avoiding and ignoring regulations.
  4. Designing an apicultural calendar and best management practices for disease and pest control for three major regions of the country (north, middle, south); much of this is basic research that must be accomplished if new beekeepers are to be given a solid foundation to begin keeping bees. In terms of mite control, some methods could easily be distributed and described now using soft chemicals like organic acids and essential oils as alternatives to hard pesticides.  These will require research, however, by the user; they are not automatic, variable in their effectiveness and carry risks for both bees and beekeeper in some instances.
  5. Developing a major resource and library facility.  Again, this fits well with the second proposal for a resource facility in Rashidia. 
  6. Encouraging the purchasing small-scale wax foundation presses; distributing them and training beekeepers how to process the wax.  My comment:  Until it is known the quantity of foundation needed, I would suggest that the concept of a centralized wax processing facility be addressed cautiously.  There is also an issue that needs attention concerning the size of the finished foundation project. This would fit well with the concepts of the following area.
  7. Facilitating interest in developing cooperatives both for honey production, marketing, and equipment purchases, as well as use of honey bees for commercial pollination.  The likely best vehicle for this is a local, active association.


Final Conclusions Concerning Projects:


Teaching center in Sulaimanyha.  This appears to be a reasonable project; the building being constructed  appears a adequate to the tasks.  I was unable to evaluate the details of the facility’s as they have yet to be implemented .


Projects in two villages (Tappi-Saffa; Bashart) using both efforts of the Kurdistan Professional Beekeepers Assocation andYouth Agencies  Organization  (YAO).  This is a  well thought-out plan and appears to be  working on some levels.  The consultant was  unable  to determine the details of the project (what best management techniques are  being taught; how the trainers were trained; what they were telling villagers?).  There appears to be a large effort in quickly moving villagers from traditional to modern hives.  There is much to be learned from traditional beekeeping and so as part of the project the consultant suggests that learning the basis for traditional management by trainers is important and should not be ignored.  In addition, the use of transitional beekeeping (top bar hives) should be explored.  An important resource would be some kind of training manual/booklet incorporating advice of the consultants/trainers with local conditions.  One thousand copies of a Kurdish beekeeping calendar have been printed as a large poster; this only helps one part of the country, however, and there should be one for other regions as well.  The consultant could not read the information on the calendar, nor could Arab speakers.


This project would  appear to be the best type to expand into rural villages.  Another possible idea is that villages  would “host” hives from professional beekeepers for a fee, providing needed  security.  At the same time the village would have  access to an experienced beekeeper.


Queen rearing facility in Kerbala:  There is certainly a need for this.  The procurement list appears reasonable.  Evaluating the success of the project will only be possible through examining the details as they unfold (will there be sufficient number and adequately trained staff?).  One area of extreme caution must be where the stock will come from.  Again, the consultant strongly discourages uncontrolled importation of stock from elsewhere in the world.  This is too often a prescription for problems.  The use of local, survivor stock in wild and traditional colonies is the preferred and safest way to obtain the best stock for the country.  A problem will be that one stock does not fit all areas; there should be some consideration that regionally-adapted bees be reared  for specific areas (e.g. north, central, south) of the country and a mechanism be  in place to  evaluate the stock produced.


Extension and information center in Rashidia: Again the list of materials proposed for this project seems reasonable.  Like the Kerbala complex, evaluating the success of the project will only be possible through examining the details as they unfold (will there be sufficient number and adequately trained staff?  How will materials be distributed?). This information center should also have access to statistics from the various regions.  The Suliamaniyha and Dahuk regions have already gathered some good information on beekeeping in their regions.  This is a natural activity of local associations.


Formation of  beekeeping associations of Kirkuk, Dahok, Erbil (Chaqlawa):  This is  the best way to get beekeepers  involved and also a good  way to begin to use the concept of  cooperatives.  The latter were not mentioned to the consultant as viable entities in Iraq at the present time, but could become an important resource in the future.


Wax foundation conversion  project (40 tons block wax in Baghdad; 15 in Suliamanyha):  The proposal to have eight (8) centers converting block wax to foundation seems a bit much as a starting place.  I am more in agreement with Mr. Saad Karim that a pilot center established in the country (Baghdad) might be best to see how this might provide needed foundation to the country as a whole.  An issue is the final dimensions of the foundation; foundation mills can run the gamut from 5.2  (European) to 4.9 (African)  mm cell sizes.  What is the optimal for Iraq?  My guess  is more toward European size, but this should be confirmed before acquiring  equipment.


Carpenter training: Certainly an important consideration is to have adequately trained carpenters to make standard equipment.  This needs more investigation.  Although the Dahuk situation appears to show that there is an expanding need for more wooden ware and, thus, carpenter training, Mr. Saad Karim in Baghdad believes there already is a adequate capacity in the central part of the country.


Furthering the education of beekeepers through international meetings/conventions/congresses:  Though not specifically mentioned in the projects, training of beekeepers through study tours should be explored.  The fact that significant beekeeping occurs in neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and elsewhere(Egypt) provides a great variety of potential training opportunities for Iraqi beekeepers.  In addition, their attendance at international conventions such as Apimonida 2005 < >in Ireland and Australia 2007 <> should be encouraged.