When Merete Zerlang from the Danish Red Cross saw something about bee project on the television in May last year, the education supervisor decided to make a beekeeping course for asylum seekers. “There are bees all over the world, more or less, and it is important to keep the environment green everywhere,” she says.
“It is a good way of integrating the asylum seekers in the Danish society,” continues Merete Zerlang. “With Bybi it is possible that different people contribute almost equally without sharing the same language. Beekeeping is getting more and more popular, and it is a great way of sharing something other than ‘where are you from?’ and ‘where did you learn Danish?”
Bybi stands for the City Bee Association and the association is focused to improve the urban environment and unlock the social and economic benefits of sustainable beekeeping and honey production. In Copenhagen they are working with social organizations, businesses and millions of bees. The profits of Bybi are reinvested in social and environmental activities.
“It’s a useful project”
There are many asylum seekers working in the Bybi project now. They are from many centers around Copenhagen. “Since I came to Denmark I never had any education. It is a way for me to get something and I am learning a practical business capacity through this project.” says an asylum seeker from center Avnstrup.
“Even if I and my family are sent back home tomorrow then the project is still useful and I think we will start our own project and create some employment opportunity for some others.”
Enthusiastic asylum seekers
Michael Pedersen is the head beekeeper of the project Bybi. He says, “It has been a really fun experience working with both the Red Cross and the asylum seekers. The asylum seekers are really engaged and enthusiastic about the project and they have a lot of experiences and ideas.”
“I always end the sessions with a big smile on face,” he adds.
On June 19, 2012 the asylum seekers got their first harvest from their beehives. It was hard work. Each beehive is weighing more than 25 kg and had to be lifted up on a van and down from it again. Despite of the hard work everyone was smiling and astonished to see the honey jar full of sweet honey in less than two hours.
Cost for 1 hive and a beekeeper (The hive with 5 boxes with frame).
1. All the bees with the queen. A colony costs about 1000 danish kr
2. The queen excluder, smoker, tools to open the bee hives, suits and gloves to the bee keeper for about 3500 danish kr
so the total cost is 4500 danish kr
1. You can get 50 kg honey from 1 beehive in one year.
2. 25 danish kr is the wholesale price for 1kg honey but if you can sell those honey by yourself to the market, you might get higher price