Five basics a beekeeper needs

Honeycombs are the Honey House’s best sellers. (Honey House Honeybee Farm)

Bees are hard workers on their own and their keepers definitely need to keep up! As beekeepers, it’s important to  give the bees the best environment for a good honey harvest.

The Honey House Honeybee Farm is an agribusiness in Lipa, Batangas that’s been operational since 2016. It was established by Mark Anthony Moncayo and his father after being inspired by their relative who was also a beekeeper.

With seven years of experience under their belt, Moncayo shares what he believes are the basic needs for a starting beekeeper:

A good location. Before starting a bee farm, make sure you can secure a good and healthy location for the bees. Aside from ensuring that there are lots of trees and plants for the bees to source food from, it’s also important to make sure nothing nearby can harm them.

 “It has to be a good location where no one nearby sprays anything,” Moncayo said in Tagalog. “It’s because if there are sprays, the bees will die. Pesticides, sprays like that.”

Training. It goes without saying that you have to make sure you’re knowledgeable and trained for the venture you’re thinking of taking.When it comes to training, it’s encouraged to find a person who can guide you as you start out. And that can be the person you’re getting your bees from.

For Moncayo, he learned from the relative they bought their first colonies from. “When someone buys bees from [my cousin], they usually teach how to care for the bees, too.” he said. “And now, that’s what we do, too. When someone buys a bee colony from us, we teach them how to take care of the bees before we let them go.”

Equipment. Bees can sting, and the stingless ones bite. The basic equipment that a beekeeper needs for his safety  is a smoker, gloves, and a beekeeping suit. 

Persistence. Persistence and hard work is important in every venture, but in a bee farmer’s case, Moncayo means this literally. “Sometimes the bees can escape from the box,” Moncayo said. “So when they get out, you have to chase and catch them. Sometimes that means climbing high-up trees to catch them and put them back in the box.”

Moncayo said this often happens during their breeding season. It’s when a colony grows too much and the bees start to divide themselves. “What would happen that there would be two queens and one would escape the box which would cause other bees to swarm the escaped queen. “That’s when you catch them all and put them back in a box,” he said.

Resourcefulness. “It’s not that if you have complete training, that’s going to be enough,” Moncayo explained. “Sometimes, you have to create your own way to enhance your skill as a bee farmer.”

According to Moncayo, there will be times that you don’t have the equipment you need for the situation at hand. “That’s when you DIY,” he said. A frame can be made from bamboo, and a box can be made from simple plywood.

“These are what you have to [learn] and do especially when they start swarming,” he said. “If you don’t have an available box, then you can make something quickly and use it to catch them.”

There’s a lot to learn before venturing into beekeeping, but these are what Moncayo believes are the basics. He emphasizes that it’s only going to be hard at first. With a bit of time and persistence, beekeeping can become easy for anyone.

Photos courtesy of the Honey House Honeybee Farm

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