Keeping honey bees, a profitable enterprise

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014


THE western honey bee or European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is a nutritionally loaded flying insect, and one of the bee species making waves in the backyards of many households recently.

This “honey-bearing bee” is also the best species of bee for beekeeping—a challenging part of one’s edible landscape.

With the up-streaming of integrated or multi-story cropping in a small parcel of land, this can be a potential money-making part of your garden.

In the beginning of 2014, I was looking for a project that can be good for commercialization.

One day, one of the listeners of my radio program, “Ang Panguma,” called me up and said he’s keeping honey bee for both honey and pollen collection.

It turned out my caller was Arturo Uychiat, the multi-awarded farmer from Sagay City but has since relocated to Bacolod City.

Mr. Uychiat invited me to his house, where he keeps 13 colonies of honey bee. His mentor, Mr. Stephen Villaflor, was also around when we arrived (I invited Ms Karen Laurico , OPA Information Service Specialist, to come with me.)

The two gentlemen gave me and Ms. Karen interesting information why honey bee-keeping is worth the capital investment.

Although Mr. Uychiat was not the first to start the bee-keeping business in Negros Occidental, I was glad to learn from his experience. I am planning to invest on it after my retirement from government service.

According to Mr. Uychiat, some honeybee keepers were ahead of him, namely, Stephen Villaflor, Raymund Golez, Archie Acuña, Lorenzo Gaston, Felix Abay (deceased), and Nestor Evaristo of Aboy’s Restaurant.

Before I knew of Mr. Uychiat’s beekeeping, I had visited Mariano de La Paz’ farm at Bago City also.

“Art,” as his friends fondly call him, started his beekeeping two years ago. He started with seven beehives/colonies and has 13 at present.

The reason why he is looking for an expansion area around Bacolod City is because he wants Negros Occidental to be well known also for honey production.

I would say it is very much possible because some groups of farmers, like VPAN (Vermi Producers Association of Negros), are interested to engage in the project, and their members are located across the province.

Also, we are one of the provinces that still have many trees and plants that can be the source of food (nectar and pollen) of the honey bees.

Another interesting fact about honey bee-keeping is that even old people can manage such project. The retirees will have some things to keep their hands busy but mind you, this project is so leisurely taken cared of once the beehives (wooden frame with 20 frames) are in placed.

What you do next is to just harvest the pollen and honey on the first two hours in the morning, or from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

I was amazed at how money comes easy once honey bee-keeping is established. Once you have an initial harvest you can be assured of the succeeding produce.

So, how much money can be earned from the bee-keeping project? For one beehive, a keeper can produce an average of 20 liters or 20 kilograms of honey in one season. That sells P300 per 350 mL, while the pollen sells at P 2,000/kg.

If you can produce 5 kg per week, imagine how much money you can make for pollen alone.

Although the initial cost would run as much as P 17,000 per beehive (P12, 000 for bees; P5,000 for box), in the first cycle you can get back your capital already.

As for its health benefits, honey contains natural sugar, minerals and vitamins, and antioxidants. It is fat- free, cholesterol-free, and a rich source of carbohydrates.

The pollen (the male seed of a flower blossom which are collected by the honey bees and mixed with the bee’s digestive enzymes) is being raved about by many scientists as a complete nutrition, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and helpful in lowering cholesterol and stabilizing and strengthening of capillaries.

If all the organic farms in Negros Occidental will engage in bee-keeping also, as I learned Mrs. Pamela Henares is planning to do so, it can be a bright prospect for Negros Occidental and another come -on for mobile learners or agri-tourists. We can also be assured of abundant honey and pollen supply for the whole year round. Sustained supply of these products from the honey bee means healthy Negrenses. (Edna Garde)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 25, 2014.

Lifestyle

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