Saturday, May 18Food Security Matters

Beekeeping Guide: How to Raise Bees and Produce Honey for Profit

Learn how to keep bees by following this simple beekeeping guide.

Beekeeping is not an easy task, however, for lovers of this work, it can be very comforting to see how a honeycomb grows strong and healthy. Bees are hard-working animals and the product of their work is nothing more and less than one of the most complete foods known (as well as delicious).

Beekeeping and bee farming in the Philippines

Modern beekeeping (of Apis mellifera) was introduced by the Americans who came to the country. Based on the records this happened in 1913. But varroa mites and minor pests of Apis cerana and Apis dorsata (both indigenous honeybees) wreaked havoc on the hives and apiaries of Apis mellifera (foreign honeybees).

Later, some Filipinos and Filipino-Chinese ventured into beekeeping using foreign honeybees, but with little success. So, they raised indigenous species like Apis cerana, known as laywan (Tagalog) or ligwan (Visayan), or putyukan (Hiligaynon) closely related to Apis mellifera. The native species builds multiple combs. In contrast, Apis dorsata builds single-hanging combs. Apis cerana according to records was first framed in the year 1978. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the late Dr. Roberto Bongabong.

Filipino beekeeper image credit CESOSACO

With limited literature about Apis cerana, the local beekeepers used beekeeping technology for Apis mellifera, which is bigger than the former.

This method proved detrimental if not destructive to native honeybees, which have different characteristics and temperaments from Apis mellifera.

Native honeybees are very aggressive, prolific swarmers, and abscond easily. They store little surplus honey (about 1- 10 kilos of honey per colony), and have few worker bees (maximum of 10,000.)

In contrast, Apis mellifera is less aggressive, swarms slowly, stores up surplus honey 20- 100 kilos), and keeps up to 60,000 worker bees in one colony. 

Both honey and beeswax are important products. In Lipa City, Batangas where most of the honey is reproduced, beekeeping is a common business helping hundreds of people in their backyards.

Beekeeping guide: What you need to know

It is important to always keep in mind some important techniques when it comes to raising bees, especially when in addition to producing honey we also want to take care of the hive, some of these techniques are:

Know and become familiar with its fundamental characteristics, for example, knowing which are the best sources for them to obtain the nectar they need and which are their main predators, in this way, we will be prevented and we will be able to counter them in time.

Learn about the life cycle of bees. The summer season is when there is more honey production, in the rainy season, the population becomes smaller as well as the production of honey, and in December the queen begins to repopulate the hive, these are data that you must take into account if you want to increase production of honey without damaging the honeycomb.

Recognize the types of bees. There are 3 types:

  • The workers are in charge of collecting the pollen and nectar necessary for the production of honey.
  • The queen bee is the one who controls the hive
  • Those who are responsible only for reproducing with the queen.

Advice on the care and breeding of bees

Some of the most important tips on the breeding and care of bees are related to the care of them, this is because the healthier the honeycomb is, the quality of the honey will be much better. We have collected the best and most relevant tips on the care and breeding of bees below:

  • It is recommended to use 12-panel hives since they house up to 36,000 bees, which means that half of them will go out to collect pollen and the more pollen they collect, the more nectar will enter the hive.
    Always try to keep the hives in open places (outdoors) where they can receive enough sun, this will directly affect the care and conservation of bees.
  • Avoid if possible the use of windbreaker curtains, these curtains block the sun that should enter the hive directly.
  • Take care that the hive does not get wet, the bees should not be cold at any time, otherwise, they will avoid leaving the honeycomb or hive so if they get wet they will need to spend the whole day inside it to dry, and production will decrease.
  • Bees need sources of carbohydrates that they extract from flower nectar, so you must ensure that bees always have a nearby source of nectar and pollen.
  • They like to drink clean water like the one that comes out of the sprinklers for example, or the one that drips from the pipes. It is advisable to place water bottles and change them regularly.

Beekeeping Guide: What can we do to take care of bees?

As we have said before, its care is essential to be able to improve the quality of the honey, a honeycomb or hive with problems will result in lower-quality honey. Some good tips for taking care of bees can be:

You grow trees and flowers that produce nectar and pollen so they can take advantage of the nutrients and carbohydrates they need.

Do not destroy the bee swarms, if you do not have experience in collecting contact people who can do it and give them a new home if necessary.

Use pesticides only in cases of extreme urgency, because their chemical components could harm bees and pollute the environment.

How honey is harvested

It is important to know that the bees that leave the hive collect the nectar from the flowers and when they return to the hive they transfer this nectar to other bees, then these bees that receive the nectar regurgitate it in empty cells where it becomes honey, this process may take a few days or a week depending on the heat and humidity present in the hive.

To harvest rich, ripe honey full of nutrients, we advise following a series of steps:

  • When the honey is ripe, the bee will seal the cells with new wax.
  • Remove the frames of ripe honey and use a sprinkler and a brush to repel the bees that are in the frame.
  • Store the frames in a clean, warm place for 24 hours.
  • Remove the layer of will that is covering the mature honey cells.
  • Use a centrifuge to remove the rich honey from the frame.
  • Place the honey in the uncapping process (a process used to separate the ripe honey from the wax and impurities) for 1 or 2 days to separate the honey from the impurities.
  • Finally, we must pack the honey preferably in glass glasses.

Where to sell your bee products (honey and beeswax)?

Honey and beeswax are in extremely high demand and selling should not be a problem. If you don’t have a local store, selling online is more profitable nowadays. There are also products you can make like soap, vanilla, bee propolis, and many more.

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