Honey Bee Farming

In Alabang we can see the skyscrapers, big malls and busy viable centers. In a backyard of a small house in a high village is a wood of trees and flowering plants, this is where the bees are camping and in this place Luke Macababbad lives. He is an urban farmer and a custodian of the colonies in a 50-square-meter backyard in Muntinlupa City subdivision.

Bees sip the nectar of the shrubs and bushes of the wild flowering plants, vines and trees. January to May is the honey season, flowers bloom and honey flows. A 50 hives or colonies can make 30 to 50 kilograms of honey in 3 weeks. The 80% is being made into wine and the remaining is honey.

According to Macababbad, the production is down because of climate change. The flowering season is not distinctive because the bees are confused. At this time, kakawati trees should be blooming but they are not. Honey is not produced after heavy rains. When you are into bee farming, the cost of a queen bee is $300 to $500. A single colony, with four frames to house 3,000 bees, costs about P6,200. Continuous labor and maintenance are the added operating costs.  According to Virgilio Badajos, a staff beekeeper who was trained in Australia, bee mortality rate must be monitored. Migratory birds can eat up to 500 bees a day. He started the bee farming as a hobby at the University of the Philippines Los Banos.  All we wanted was to have our own home-made honey for home use, he said.

He had 4 colonies in his farm which expanded in Batangas, Lipa, Tanauan and Cavite. He harvested 100 kilograms of honey produced at Dielle’s Apiary and Meadery Enterprises.  With the increase in demand Macababbad seek the technology assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). And the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET UP) provided him P300,000 to purchase new stainless steel tank.

This helped him increased from 1,000 bottles a year to 2,000 bottles per month. Other products were added: mango, bignay and duhat wines, the label designs and packaging were provided by DOST.  Sales raised to 300 percent and on-line orders also increased.  According to Dr. Teresita C. Fortuna, DOST’s Regional Director for Metro Manila, the bee colony is one of the more successful technology intervention of the DOST National Capital Region (NCR).  In 2009, P8.9 million support was provided by DOST-NCR for technology acquisition to 11 microenterprises. This includes consultancies, trainings and workshops conducted in 596 firms. In Twinville Subdivision in Marikina, homeowners association uses HYDROPONICS or growing plants without soil. The DOST Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) provided the Hydroponic Technology. The Enriched Potting Preparation technology involves nutrient-rich compost soil extract and a specialized watering and aeration-efficient container made from used plastic bottles.  Senior citizens of the Twinville Homeowner’s Association participated by planting the first crop of vegetables for home consumption. The harvested crop is sold in the city government and in nearby supermarkets. Marikina and Muntinlupa are the recipients of a bioreactor technology which converts the wastes from wet markets into organic fertilizer. While in Quezon City and Taguig, DOST NCR and PCARRD provided technical assistance and training to city agriculture technologies like edible landscaping, hydroponics and enriched potting preparation and composting. [via malaya.com.ph]