News Release

Bees Are Changing Lives in Jordan

Yamnah Kalaf Toresh is a Syrian refugee living in Mulah, Jordan. She has no family, having lost her husband and two daughters. She was living in an animal shed with no door, window, plumbing or furniture when Latter-day Saint Charities volunteers met her in early 2019.

In August 2019, Yamnah became a beekeeper with the help of Latter-day Saint Charities and the al JAHUTH Society, based in Madaba, Jordan. The beehive project promotes self-reliance among refugees and the poor by setting up honey production cooperatives in neighborhoods and rural areas in the southern part of the Kingdom.


After receiving her beehives, Yamnah began selling honey to local families and stores. In December 2019, the hive colony doubled, and al JAHUTH provided her with another box for the growing beehive. She is now able to support herself and rent a small apartment. She is saving money to build herself a two-room house; an al JAHUTH volunteer will build the house for free.

Latter-day Saint Charities volunteers Susan and Stephen Zwahlen, who helped with the project, say that Yamnah is an example of how the beehives are changing lives in Jordan.

“Yamnah is so happy now. She does not look like the same person,” Susan Zwahlen said. “One small beehive has changed her life.

Yamnah is one of 50 households that have become beekeepers since the project’s start. Most of the households are led by women who are widows, have been abandoned by their husbands or whose husbands are unable to work due to poor health. Many households include aging and disabled grandparents, so over 500 people have been helped by this project.

The hive colonies are established in wooden boxes designed for easy expansion as the colony grows. They are stackable, and every year, one or two boxes can be added to the stack to accommodate colony growth. Similarly, as queen bees appear, a new colony can be easily started with a new box. The bees need 25 square kilometers of rural terrain to collect enough pollen. The families live in open, fertile ground, and there are many olive and citrus groves in the area to provide pollen. One hive can produce 25 to 30 kilograms of honey every four months. Honey sells locally for US$30 to US$40 per kilo.

Several al JAHUTH volunteers are employees of the Ministry of Agriculture, and they offer their experience and knowledge to individuals and families trying to supplement their incomes by becoming beekeepers. They arrange free training and veterinary services from the ministry, use the ministry’s extension service to extract the honey from the combs and assist with marketing the honey to stores all over Jordan.

Sheik Mansour Oqlah Al Hashem, founder of the al JAHUTH Society, says they are grateful for the support of Latter-day Saint Charities. "I give thanks to God that he sent Latter-day Saint Charities to help these poor people,” he said. “I am very happy when I see these people learn to help themselves.”

When al JAHUTH volunteers bought the hives from a wholesaler for distribution, the supplier insisted that they take a specific batch. When they began to deliver them to the families, they found they were already full of honey. The honey was immediately extracted and sold, boosting the family’s income from day one. The generous supplier, when asked why he supplied hives ready for market, said that he knew it was for charity and wanted to help.

Susan Zwahlen said that now that Yamnah’s life has improved through the beehive project, she is looking for ways to pay it forward.

“She has now reached out to the community and offered to babysit children whose parents both work for no charge,” she said. “We were so touched by the absolute joy Yamnah expressed at the opportunity she had to change her life. She could not stop thanking Latter-day Saint Charities and God that she was so blessed.”

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