Shepherds Bush resident Ali Alzein

First hives for refugee beekeeping project installed at Shepherds Bush school

A new project helping refugees become beekeepers has opened its first hives at Hammersmith Academy.

Bees & Refugees was launched earlier this year by Shepherds Bush resident Ali Alzein, 35, who fled his home and life in Damascus, Syria.

Not only will the project help educate the Academy’s students, it gives refugees a chance to get involved in a therapeutic local project that helps them settle in their new community.

“We’re delighted to support Ali’s brilliant project which we hope will help many other residents find a genuine home in H&F,” said Cllr Sue Fennimore, H&F Council Deputy Leader.

“Not only does it give local refugees a chance to get involved in the local community, they get to learn the key skills needed for the bee-keeping and honey-making process.”

The Cathnor Road school was given the opportunity to work with Ali and the Bees & Refugees team to keep their own bees on site. 

The project is open to all refugees, but will specifically focus on helping women and young adults, providing them with a vocation or hobby, that also helps strengthen local biodiversity.

It also has the additional benefit of producing delicious local honey that will be offered to those in need in the local community.

“It’s brilliant to see Hammersmith Academy pioneering Ali’s project which cleverly brings together helping other refugees, students, bees and the community,” added Cllr Fennimore.

Ali Alzein and a woman stood behind beehives with bees swarming around them
Ali Alzein, 35 (right) , who fled his home and life in Damascus, Syria

Bringing the black bee back

There is a movement in the UK to bring back the native black bee and Ali is already educating students at the Academy about the importance of this movement. The bees will add to the local biodiversity by pollinating plants and encouraging different species to thrive.

Ali and his team have installed three beehives in the Academy, with 10,000-15,000 bees in each hive.

The team worked with staff to talk them through the process step by step, sharing information on what the bees do when they first go inside the hive, how the colony is structured, and what they are able to grow at school in order to help the bees flourish.

“We are very grateful for the generosity and support of Hammersmith Academy - the students had already placed a lot of flowering plants that the bees love and feed on every day,” said Ali.

''We inspected their three beehives last week and were really surprised with how much work the bees have done in less than two weeks. They’re clearly happy in their new home and we’re looking forward to soon being able to invite students to our workshops.''

Find out more about how we’re tackling the climate and ecological emergency in H&F.

Ali Alzein assembling wooden beehives
Ali Alzein at work on his beehives

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