The Syrian beekeeper helping fellow refugees in West Yorkshire


A Syrian academic who fled the violence in his homeland is now helping fellow refugees in West Yorkshire take part in a project to cultivate British bees.

Dr Ryad Alsous came to the UK in 2013.

Back in Syria he had spent years researching the chemical properties of honey and and was known to his students as ‘the professor of bees’.

But when civil war broke out ten years ago this week, Alsous abandoned his research and joined millions others who left their homes.

After settling in Marsden, near Huddersfield, he decided to use his love and knowledge of the creature to help others.

He launched the Buzz Project, which aims to help refugees and the long-term unemployed to find a sense of purpose through bee-keeping.

During this job we can improve their language and involve them with a lot of community to make them busy and happy and make them forget the difficult time they spend in war places.

Dr Ryad Alsous

Ryad was also one of the inspirations for the best selling novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo after the author, Christy Lefteri, came to spend time with him and his bees.

"Ryad has done something absolutely amazing and you know he's doing research in to the British Black Bee as well which I also think - the guy's just extraordinary", she said.

"To go through trauma and then to be able kind of find the strength in yourself to help others is such an amazing quality."

The uprising against the president of Syria left nearly four hundred thousand people dead and entire cities destroyed. Ryad's hives were among the many casualties of the conflict in Syria and, as the fighting escalated, his own life was threatened.

The uprising against the president of Syria left nearly four hundred thousand people dead Credit: Reuters

But he says that international sanctions are now making the conflict even worse.

"Lots of people die because Covid-19 and medication is not available.  Milk for children not available also. 

"Every day I receive a lot of calls from my friends and my family and they ask how we can support them by any way to transfer money. 

"Sadly, we can't transfer one pound because all banks in Syria also blocked by some countries. 

"Some great countries, talking about human rights.  Sadly they haven't any traces of human rights."

Ryad is now helping to bring British Black Bees back from the verge of extinction. The Syrian who escaped a war zone, cultivating life in the English countryside.