By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

Almost everyone is familiar with the benefits of having bees in the environment. These natural pollinators help flowers bloom and some plants to bear fruit. 

Knowing the benefits of bees, a bee farm in Bukidnon dedicated itself to preserving these natural pollinators not only for business purposes but also to help fellow farmers with the pollination process, thereby increasing their chances of having a bountiful harvest. 

“Saving the bees will help us and the people within the vicinity to increase their crop production up to 30 percent through pollination. We help the bees and the bees help us,” said Angela Almendras Aribal, a proprietor of Bukidnon Bee Farmer.

Bukidnon is rich in trees, crops, and flowers as a source of nectar for the bees.

Aribal added that by caring for the bees, they have access to resources such as honey, propolis, pollen, and other raw products. 

“Not only do we aim to help farmers increase their production through pollination but also help individuals in our community to get employed so they could provide for their families,” she said. 

Originally a photographer, Angela is married to Benjy Bryan Ducusin Aribal, the original farmer between the two. However, the couple balances the workload on the farm while also practicing photography. 

A tale of two buddies 

Benjy started farming in 2008 with his best friend, Nathan Bisahan. They have been sharing their experiences with students since 2019.

“They went through ups and downs when trying out different crops and venturing into fisheries,” Angela shared. 

When they discovered beekeeping, the two friends became successful, and they owe their success to their own families as well as to each other. Benjy went ahead and established Bukidnon Farmer Bee with his wife. 

Protecting the bees to help the farmers 

The couple started with two colonies of Apis mellifera, or Western honeybees, which they continued to proliferate.

The couple started with only two hives until they managed to expand in numbers.

“It is the bee that produces excess honey which people consume for better health. They scout and get nectar from the food source present during the season and make it into honey,” Angela said. 

The bee farm’s proprietor also said that they work hard to secure and maintain the optimum environment for bees to thrive in and produce honey. “First, we give them shelter by building them a fancy house made of wood. A hive stand with grease will be used so no ants will crawl up inside the hive,” she said.

Angela and her husband provides the bees with the necessary conditions that are optimum for bees.

She added that the hives should be located in a shaded area since honeybees maintain a temperature of 32°C and 35°C inside. If the temperature is too high, they will fan their wings to cool down which consumes their time instead of collecting nectar.

Another thing to remember is the bees should have an adequate food source in their surroundings to sustain their daily consumption of nectar. Areas with flowers, trees, and other plants are highly recommended. 

Lastly, Angela said that the proper way of checking the hives is implemented in their farm so no swarming will happen. Swarming is a collective behavior exhibited by colony insects like bees when they group together to attack or move to another location.

One thing that should be avoided in beekeeping is stressing the bees because this could affect honey production. So when checking the hives, it is important to make sure that they feel safe, even if the beekeeper is prodding around the frames. 

Some ways to do this include smoking the hive to confuse them so they don’t waste their energy guarding and preparing to attack the trespasser, or by inspecting during specific times when most of the bees are out foraging. 

The time usually varies among hives but seasoned beekeepers note that the best time to check on them is around 11:00AM to 4:00PM on a warm, sunny day. 

Having provided their bees with the requirements needed, the couple now had the foundation to create their bee farm. 

In 2013, they established Bukidnon Farmer Bee and in 2016, they registered the bee farm under the Department of Trade and Industry because they began selling honey to interested clients. 

Presently, the farm employs farmers and other folks who are looking for a source of income to help during the harvesting and manufacturing of their honey. When their production grows, the couple plans to employ more people in their community. 

Helen’s Bukidnon Pure Honey 

According to Angela, they pursued the business in memory of her husband’s mother, Helen, whom they named the brand after. 

“Mama Helen [is a] sweet and loving mother to her children. There’s a lot of reasons to not stop but Mama Helen’s unconditional love inspires us to not quit and keep believing in our dreams,” Angela shared.

Named after Benjy’s mother, Helen, Bukidnon sells pure, raw honey under the brand Helen’s Honey.

In order to make their honey brand stand out the couple made use of the vast natural resources such as the diverse selection of plants and crops available in Bukidnon. 

“This gives us the best quality honey which we carefully collect from the farm and pack into bottles. And because we care for our consumers, there is no adulteration, no heating, no pasteurization so we can give them pure, raw honey,” Angela said. 

The Bukidnon Farmer Bee farm is also aiming to become an Agricultural Training Institute certified beekeeping learning site. 

“People should pay attention to local honey and bees to make sure that the honey being produced is real and pure while also boosting our local honey bee industry,” Angela said. 

Now, Bukidnon Farmer Bee is focused on expanding their area to be able to produce more honey and meet the demands of their customers at the same time creating a safe space for bees and a source of livelihood for farmers. 

For more information, visit Bukidnon Farmer Bee on Facebook.