ON THE COVER
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.