BEE­KEEP­ING SE­RIES PART 3: THE MILEA BEE FARM’S WAY OF PROP­A­GAT­ING NA­TIVE HONEY BEES

Agriculture - - Going Native - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

IN THE AU­GUST IS­SUE of Agri­cul­ture Mag­a­zine was a dis­cus­sion of the com­mon honey pro­duc­ing bees in the Philip­pines; this ar­ti­cle fo­cuses on the Milea Bee Farm’s way of prop­a­gat­ing na­tive honey bees in the coun­try. Most of us still con­sider bees to be wild, even when they are hived or kept in boxes. Ac­cord­ing to Rico Omoyon, owner of the Milea Bee Farm in Balag­tasin II, San Jose, Batan­gas, Ital­ian honey bees ( Apis mel­lif­era), na­tive honey bees ( Apis cer­ana, lo­cally known as ‘lig­wan’ or ‘lay­wan’), na­tive stin­g­less bees (Te­tragonula spp., lo­cally known as ‘lukot’, ‘lukotan’, ‘ki­wot’, ‘kiyot’, and ‘lib-ug’) are the prop­a­gated species in his farm, which also has sev­eral man­aged colonies of the Asian gi­ant honey bee ( Apis dor­sata, lo­cally known as ‘pukyu­tan’ or ‘putyukan’) in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions.

Omoyon prop­a­gates the Ital­ian honey bees the same way oth­ers do it here and abroad, us­ing the Langstroth hive. In the coun­try, Omoyon is de­vis­ing dif­fer­ent but nat­u­ral meth­ods for prop­a­ga­tion us­ing top bar hives, which are made from wooden ma­te­ri­als.

He said would-be bee­keep­ers who are search­ing the In­ter­net for tips will find much in­for­ma­tion and many videos on how to get started, par­tic­u­larly from bee­keep­ers them­selves. They just need to make ad­just­ments due to the Philip­pines be­ing a trop­i­cal coun­try.

“There­fore, what we would like to share in this ar­ti­cle are the ways on how we prop­a­gate na­tive honey pro­duc­ing bees,” Omoyon said.

Apis cer­ana re­mains abun­dant in the coun­try, and one’s lo­ca­tion might al­ready be host­ing a colony. “If you wish to have these na­tive bees but would pre­fer a ‘no touch’ ap­proach in get­ting your pol­li­na­tors, you may opt to in­stall a bait hive,” he ex­plained.

Omoyon said the na­tive honey bees have their own swarm­ing sea­son. The colony will usu­ally di­vide through swarm­ing; this is when one can see ‘clumps’ of bees in the branches of trees. When this oc­curs, the scout bees will be search­ing for new suit­able nest­ing ar­eas, and

These na­tive honey bees (lo­cally known as lay­wan or lig­wan) have built a nest in a used Sty­ro­foam ice chest. The out­er­most combs that are filled with honey can be har­vested, but we must leave a por­tion for the bees’ con­sump­tion.

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