Interview: Khalil Yazbek

Production interview Khalil Yazbeck Kfar Habou (1)
em>Amshit- Lebanon

PERSONAL BACKGROUND
Personal Background
(personal background of the person interviewed, not too much detailed, it depends on the context).

He studied electricity and worked as an electrician. Though, his passion for nature, earth system and the environmental life cycle made him dedicate his full time for beekeeping.

He is an environmental activist against cutting down trees, rubble and pebble mill and chemical fertilizers and any other form of destroying nature.

His only concern is to bequeath a clean healthy environment to his children and to teach them beekeeping.

ENVIRONMENT

Description of the environment where one of the activities listed above takes place:
(Please, specify: 1 – name of the local area, 2 – if it’s a place well-known for a specific activity and – if so – which one; 4 – information about plants and landscape related to Mediterranean environment linked to the activity; 5 – any relevant information linked to the research). If it’s possible, take pictures/shoot video of this place.

This production activity is held at Kfar Habo, a Syriac composed word means” the house of love”. Located in Kada Zgharta and surrounded by orchards of plumps, the territory is really famous to have peaches, apples, nectarine, olives and oak.

TECHNIQUE/METHOD
Description of the technique/method/practice implemented. Please, specify – if it’s the case – the timing, the steps and the aim of the activity (to have more material: pictures + video shooting of the usage if it’s possible).

Beekeeping is a whole world by itself, and Khalil refuses to call it: “honey industry” because he thinks that when industry gets involved, it destroys the honey.
Honey is an obvious result of the natural life cycle without human or machinery interference.

Honey is a product of the bee’s hard work supervised by their queen without any need for other unnatural technical interference.

Each hive or group of bees has a queen, but a bee hive cannot have two queens, otherwise one of them will take her army of bees and leave the hive permanently.

The royal jelly is a natural rare substance secreted by the hypopharyngeal glands of young bees.

This royal jelly is used in the nutrition of larvae, so it doubles a worker bee size and becomes a queen bee which can live up to 5 years, while as the average worker bee lives up to 6 weeks only. This royal jelly also increases the queen’s fertility so she can lay up to 2 million eggs during her lifetime.

As for the mating process, the queen spreads a kind of smell inside the hive and flies vertically followed by every male in the hive. She mates with the first male that reached her, then she flies a little bit lower and mates with the next male, and so on until she mates 7 times for her 7 layers, then she goes back to the hive.
The bee guards make sure to stop all males who got out of the hive and keep them from entering it back again. Knowing that the male role is only to eat the honey and fertilize the eggs.

If the bees got sick, medication shouldn’t be used, because the honey will be affected, Khalil prefers to burn the hive instead of medicating it, especially that the honey will be rejected if the laboratory tests show it was sick.

He doesn’t feed the bees with any type of sugar; instead, he leaves them the quantity they need from the honey they produce.

Khalil is proud that his honey doesn’t contain any medication or antibiotic or sugar.

He is against nutritionists who claim that honey is a form of sugar without any further value or benefit. He calls them “hamburger nutritionists”.
He quotes from the holy books that mentioned the benefits of honey and also the old Chinese who used honey and bee stings for medication.

The bee sting helps people with blood nervous disease, rheumatic and arthritics, also supports the body to flush all toxins. And is currently used for healing purposes in Germany; according to Khalil.

As for the swelling that occurs when the body is stung by a bee, he says that it only hurts people who are allergic to it, and that the bee only stings when it is afraid.
“I get stung every single day by almost 20 bees, and while I am glad for it, I also feel sad because it dies when it stings. Otherwise, there is nothing more enjoyable that that sting!”; said Khalil.

PRODUCTS

List of natural products (fruits, vegetables, plants, fish and so on) depending on the activity/the activity is done for and related to the Mediterranean Diet. Promotion of the territory. Promotion of biodiver Promotion of slow and 0% consumptionif it’s the case, how the 0 Km production is working at local level: Region, if it’s a place famous for a specific activity, why and so?

Types of honey produced:
– Cinchona and lemon honey (in spring), good for the cold and flu.
– Kebkab (a type of forest thorny plants which can be found up in the high mountains of Lebanon at an altitude of 2000m above sea level), it blooms only once a year from the middle of August until middle of September. It is excellent for asthma.
– Oak, as the tree does not directly feed the bees, some type of aphid attacks the leaves and leaves a sticky substance which is licked by the bees and transformed through their hypopharyngeal glands into a black colored honey.
– Al Jerd honey (a mix of thyme, oak and other flowers) which has lots of benefits.
– Royal jelly helps with longevity of cells and maintains brain and nerves cells, and also prevents atherosclerosis especially the coronary veins of the heart and boosts the immune system.
– Propolis, a rare substance made by the worker bees to cover the honey storages. It has a strong taste (sour) which is eaten by the queen and her special team of workers to open the honey storage for the hive in winter.

Each type of honey is beneficial for a certain condition. There are more than 20 diseases can be cured by consuming honey, such as: vocal cords inflammation, asthma, arthritics, mucus, headaches, ulcer, cancer, anemia, hepatitis…

Adding honey to hot drinks can cause lost of some of its properties.

TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATION OF THE LOCAL ACTIVITY

If it’s an activity related to the promotion of the territory, the biodiversity and the slow and 0% consumption, please, describe how it works at local level (if it’s related to traditional practice or traditional organization of the food distribution, promotion of territory or 0% consumption).

Khalil sells his honey in Lebanon and some Arabian countries such as UAE.

MEDITERREANEAN SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT

How did you learn this method/technique/practice?

Khalil learned beekeeping from his father who learned it from his own father. Beekeeping is a family tradition for them.

Back in the old days, they used to keep bees in large vases that are used to keep water. When harvesting the honey they used to break the vase into two pieces then take the third frame that contains the best honey which is locally called “khorya” and both surrounding frames. As for the bottom, it is kept where it is to protect the queen’s life and the hive. They also keep the last frame to avoid making the queen angry otherwise she would be leaving the hive with some of the bees.

Season (season this activity is specifically carried out)

Bees work all year round, but during the frost, bees must be relocated from the highlands to the lower lands.