Oakton Student & Alumnus Create Buzz for Bees in Community

(L-R) Abdullah Motiwala and Anas Ahmed maintain five hives at the apiary on Oakton’s Skokie campus.
Skokie, Ill. (April 23, 2024) - Oakton student Anas Ahmed and Oakton alumnus Abdullah Motiwala are on a mission to spread awareness and appreciation for bees. The two friends recently installed five hives at the community apiary on the College’s Skokie campus. Both residents of Niles, Ahmed and Motiwala, invite community members to learn more about beekeeping and the importance of bees alongside them.

“Our goal is to educate others on the importance of bees and share about the invaluable contributions bees make to our eco-system,” said Ahmed.

“We also want to give back to the community and inspire the next generation of beekeepers,” added Motiwala.

Ahmed and Motiwala want to assist aspiring beekeepers on their journey by providing guidance and support. Additionally, they want to educate individuals on the types of flowers they should plant in their garden to attract bees and aid in preserving these important pollinators.

Ahmed became aware of the community apiary at the Skokie campus while studying computer information systems (CIS) at Oakton. He immediately reached out to his long-time friend Motiwala, an owner of Heaven’s Honey. Motiwala sells 100% pure, raw, unfiltered honey, which he harvests in Illinois and buys from local farmers. He hopes to make honey produced from his hives at the apiary on Oakton’s campus available for sale in the future.

Although Motiwala hated the taste of honey as a child, he became interested in beekeeping after learning about the medicinal benefits of honey and propolis, a resin-like material made by bees.

“I don’t think people realize how nutrient-dense honey is,” said Motiwala, “I am a foodie, and after trying fresh-farm honey, I realized how delicious it is. A lot of honey in stores is not pure and has added sugar.”

Committed to ethical beekeeping practices, Ahmed and Motiwala prioritize the well-being of their bees, exclusively feeding them honey and maintaining a weekly check on their hives. They ensure a nearby container is filled with water and pebbles where bees can rest without fear of drowning. Currently, they have five hives on campus, each with about 10,000 bees and one queen bee per hive.

“I like to be in the presence of bees, watching them work hard and communicate with each other - it's truly therapeutic,” said Ahmed.

“There is this misconception that bees are dangerous or harmful, but they are not,” added Motiwala. “Their preservation is crucial.”

To schedule an appointment with Ahmed and Motiwala to learn more about bees and beekeeping, please email them at heavenshoneyinc@gmail.com.

The apiary — in partnership with the Village of Skokie — aligns with Oakton’s commitment to sustainability by supporting the declining honeybee population and educating community members and students about the importance of pollinators. To learn more about how you can host a beehive at Oakton apiary, please go to: Honeybee Keeping in Skokie