Overlooking the busy streets of Whitechapel and the UK capital’s financial district, the rooftop of East London Mosque might seem like an incongruous place to find thousands of bees, but the site has been home to a collection of hives for more than a decade.
The colony was brought to the mosque by Salma Attan, founder of Bushwood Bees. Along with her husband, she has turned beekeeping into a full-time business, selling specialty honey and a range of lifestyle products on the company’s website and other locations, including farmers markets.
Bees are of particular significance in Islam; the Qur’an dedicates an entire chapter to them. In An-Naḥl (The Bee), two verses refer to the role of honeybees in nature and the bounty they produce: “Then eat from every kind of fruit and follow meekly the ways of your Lord. There issues from its belly a juice of diverse hues, in which there is a cure for the people.”
We visited Attan at work to talk about her passion for these magical creatures and how they have enriched her life.
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