On the roof of the East London Mosque, Khalil and Salma Attan look after about 100,000 honeybees as their fellow Muslims worship in the halls below. Positioned at opposite ends of the hives, the married couple work together seamlessly as they inspect each frame, pausing occasionally to hand each other equipment and ask if the other had spotted the queen.
After enrolling in several courses and gaining the proper training, Khalil and Salma approached the East London Mosque in 2011 with the idea of keeping bees on their rooftop. He said: “This mosque is very forward thinking. They do a lot of things for the community- their doors are usually open to everybody. We didn’t know what they would say, but they were really positive and actually got quite excited about it.”
That excitement still persists three years on. The couple are regularly approached by members of the mosque, who frequently ask: “When are you going to get your honey? Can I have some?”