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Beekeeping in Jordan


Dr. Nizar Haddad.

Coordinator of the Bee Research Unit. National Center for Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer, bee. (NCARTT).

P.O Box 639-Baq'a 19381. Jordan, Tel.: (06)4725411, Fax (06)4726049



Jordan located at the crossroads of three continents, between Europe, Asia, and Africa. Jordan is located between 290 11' N and 330 22' E. bordered by Syria in the north, Iraq to the east, Saudi Arabia on both eastern and southern borders.

Although Jordan's size is limited (89,213 Sq. Km), the landscape reveals great diversity within short distance; Jordan is subjected to the eastern Mediterranean climate, which is characterized by mild and moderately rainy winter and hot rainless summer. The country is composed of four eco-geographical regions: Mediterranean region; Irano-Turanian region; Eastern Desert region "Badia". Sudanian region;

Melliferous vegetation

All of aforementioned Jordan's eco-geographic regions hold rich and divers natural resources of wild flora, cultivated plants, fruit trees, and forest trees, most of these plants are foraging plant for bee as source of nectar and pollen grain. In the Jordan valley honey bee forages places are mainly the citrus orchard the source of light colored honey, Christ throne jujube, Eucalyptus, Syrian thistle and Mesquite. In the uplands fruit trees such as stone fruit, poem fruit, and cultivated crops like legumes and crucifers are the main feeding sources for honeybee.

Wild flora, bushes, and shrub comprises the main foraging plants for honeybee in the arid and semi arid region, greenish and tanned color honey is produced from this plants.


According to the Ministry of Agricultural Statistics Reports (2003), 65% of the total numbers of the hives are located in the northern parts and 25% in the central parts and the rest (10%) in the southern parts of Jordan.

The statistics also showed that the number of beekeeper in Jordan reach over 1000 with about 60,000 beehives (in 2003) distributed in the following categories: hobbyist beekeeper-nonprofessional- (who owns less than 10 beehives) 60% of the total beekeeper, part-time beekeeper (10 -25 beehives) 10%, full-time beekeeper (25-100) 20%, professional beekeepers (more than 1000 beehive) 1%.

Hive, equipment and production

in 1979, more than 80% of the hives were kept in traditional clay hives ( Hand made cylindrical tubes of mud and straw 26 inches long in 12 inches in diameter internally, the walls are a full 2 inches thick), the honeybee hived in this primitive hive will build comb, rather relying on removable frame as in modern Langstroth hives.

Considerable efforts have been made in the past two decades to introduce the modern hive into Jordan, in 2005 more than 98% of the bees are kept in modern Langstroth type, while 2% are still following traditional ways.

There is few manufacturing or production of beekeeping equipments and supplies (except for the wooden hive boxes and removable frame) and Most of the beekeeping requirements such as honey extractors, ripeners, queen excluders,   wax foundation, smokers, and beekeeper clothes are imported from countries like New Zealand,  China, Syria, Europe, USA

In 1980-1998 the average honey production was 50-200 tons per year. The average consumption reached 379 Tons per year, the Kingdom imports about 282 Tons a year which means that the production covers only 20% of national consumption. (The directory of animal production documents 1980-1998).

Jordanians prefer local honey because of the diversity of Jordan flora acting as honeybee foraging places were its believed that local honey has more medical value than imported. The price of imported honey reaches (5 $)/kg. But the price of local honey is about (10-15 $/kg).

Other products of the bee hive are limited for a number of professional beekeepers and commercial apiaries. Pollen grain, propolis, wax and royal jelly production is generally small.

Honey bees

The native honeybee of Jordan is Apis mellifera syriaca exist in the east of Mediterranean region (Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria and Lebanon). It's characterized by a bright yellow color, small size, and construction of several swarm cells. Most notably, A. m. syriaca is a nervous bee, which is notorious for high defensiveness.

For commercial beekeepers there seems to be good practical reasons for replacing A. m. syriaca by less defensive strains, including strains of Italian, Carniolan, Buckfast or Caucasian origin. This tendency has increased and was complemented by introducing other successful breeder, in combination with the increased transportation of colonies, which is part of modern beekeeping,

A. m. syriaca

As a bee of the dry-hot regions, it is much better adapted to survive extreme summer temperatures without small honey flow, and adjusts its brood pattern showing a depression between the spring and autumn maxima.

The Syrian honeybees shows more defensive behavior also against the parasite Varroa jacobsoni it is also better adapted to withstand attacks from Vespa orientalis (Haddad and Fuchs2004, Fuchs and Haddad 2005)

A. m. syriaca constitute a fertile subject to study; since researches done on the biology, behavior, and genetics of this strain of honeybee are very limited.

Only few systematic investigations on the specific traits of A. m. syriaca have so far been conducted to verify the potential traits, nevertheless more than half a century of foreign bee importation has passed, it might not be too late to find pure or almost pure A. m. syriaca. Therefore The Bee Research Unit NCARTT started intensive investigations in cooperation with "Institut Fur Biebebkunde" in Oberursel Germany, to fiend the A. m. syriaca and establish a gene bank apiary for this local strain having in mined that  the spices of today might be the solution of tomorrow problems (Grant by the DFG & GTZ), the results were that the Jordanian samples are the closest in the Middle East to the reference samples collected in 1952 by Brother Adam A.

This is the first bank for A. m. syriaca in the Middle East where queens are mated in natural flits and with artificially inseminated mother queens in order to serve as origin for further investigations.

Beekeeping Department

The ministry of Agriculture in Jordan have a beekeeping department which is responsible for the import export regulations and as will responsible for the   yearly statistics reports, as will this department in cooperation with the extension service are responsible for  training the beekeepers and supporting with extension information.

Honey Bee diseases

American foul brood (Paenibacillus larvae), European foul brood (Melissococcus pluton), Acarine. In certain areas the symptoms of Nosema (Nosema apis) and Viral diseases might be found but there is no existed surveys in this areas.

Honey Bee pests

Wax moth (Galleria mellonella), Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis), Varroa mite (V. destructor) and the Bee Eater (Merops sp. are the main pests if honey be suitable  es not only in Jordan but in all the Middle East countries, as will the    poisoning of bees by pesticides remains very serious problem for beekeeper specially in the Jordan Valley.

Bees for Development

The bees are used for development by the Bee Research Unit and some other organizations for example, the Bee Research Unit had distribute several beehives and helped in establishment new apiary's which income is used to support poor families, as will with the purpose of developing of income of the women in rural areas many workshops and training programs for women are conducted yearly.

The future of beekeeping in Jordan

In order to enhance beekeeping in Jordan there are some important thing need to be done, establishment of a "Honey Board" responsible for organizing the distance between the apiary.  More efforts in bee selection, bee breading and queen rearing need to be carried out not only by the Bee Research Unit and the Beekeeping department at the MoA but by some privet honey bee queen breeders which are unfortunately not availably yet on professional level in Jordan in order to protect the honey bees from pests and diseases, new research projects need to be started. From our experience the future of beekeeping in Jordan will be only for the beekeepers that have less than 30 beehives or them who have over 1000 beehives because of the problem of honey marketing, and it is for these two groups because beekeepers that have less than 30 beehives can sell the honey for there relatives, neighbor and friends. In the other hand the professional beekeepers with over 1000 hives can open a special shop to market not only hive productions but as will beekeepers equipments and as will get some income from the pollination service.














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