ON THE COVER

Agriculture - - Monthly Agriculture - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

Apis mel­lif­era bees.

BEE­KEEP­ING may not be pop­u­lar in the Philip­pines, and un­known to many, it can be a prof­itable en­deavor, ben­e­fi­cial to both man and the en­vi­ron­ment. To ven­ture into bee­keep­ing, the fore­most re­quire­ment is ded­i­ca­tion, and a cor­re­spond­ing at­ten­tion to the bees un­der one’s care. Milea Bee Farm in San Jose, Batan­gas, owned by Rico and Edilee Omoyon, is slowly be­com­ing known for its suc­cess in the field. It started oper­a­tions dur­ing the first quar­ter of 2010 for the sole pur­pose of serv­ing the honey and beeswax needs of Milea Bath and Body Well­ness Essen­tials (MBBWE), a pro­ducer of nat­u­ral and or­ganic per­sonal care prod­ucts. Be­cause of the ris­ing de­mand for bee prod­ucts of the Milea Bath and Body line, and due to the er­ratic and some­times in­fe­rior qual­ity sup­ply of these prod­ucts from lo­cal honey hun­ters, Rico and Edilee de­cided to keep their own bees to pro­duce their own sup­plies.

To com­ple­ment their new ven­ture, Rico started tak­ing short cour­ses here and abroad, gain­ing com­pet­i­tive knowl­edge in prop­a­gat­ing Ital­ian bees from his stint at the Harry H. Laid­law, Jr. Honey Bee Re­search Fa­cil­ity, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Davis Cam­pus in the United States.

AD­VO­CACY FOR BEE­KEEP­ING

Early on in the busi­ness, the cou­ple wanted to sup­port lo­cal en­trepreneurs and lo­cal farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties.This prompted them to in­ves­ti­gate how the honey hun­ters gather honey in the wild. That’s when they found that the lo­cal hun­ters’ prac­tices were not only de­struc­tive, but could also con­trib­ute to wip­ing out the wild bee pop­u­la­tion be­cause the hun­ters were burn­ing whole bee colonies af­ter ob­tain­ing the honey for their trade and lar­vae for food con­sump­tion.

Rico and Edilee also learned that farm­ers treated bees as pests, not know­ing the con­cept of pol­li­na­tion. The farm­ers thought that bees would just sting, or in the case of stin­g­less bees, en­ter their ears. Want­ing to make a dif­fer­ence even in their own small way, the cou­ple went on a na­tion­wide cam­paign, teach­ing farm­ers about the con­cept of pol­li­na­tion and how bees can pro­vide an ad­di­tional source of in­come—all for free.

These ac­tiv­i­ties, Rico says, were re­al­ized only through their ad­vo­cacy group Spread Or­ganic Agri­cul­ture in the Philip­pines (SOAP), and with the help of the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA),

An ex­am­ple of an im­ported bee or the Apis­melif­era which is busy pol­li­nat­ing one of the flow­ers at bloom in the farm.

An in­dige­nous bee or Apis­cer­anais shown pol­li­nat­ing a flower at the Milea Bee Farm in San Jose, Batan­gas.

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