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Starting a Backyard Urban Beekeeping in the Philippines

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Filipinos who are interested to start a backyard or urban beekeeping apiary in the Philippines usually don’t know where to start. That is why I would like to share my very own experience on the matter and how I came to be a certified urban beekeeper in Manila in just 2 weeks or less. Being a beekeeper is actually just a short term duration but the whole process itself may take up to 2 years in becoming if you are really careful and cautious about how much money you need to spend to be able to open up with a 2 starter colony of bees (local stingless bee “lukot” or imported Australian bees). I will also be breaking down the initial cost study based from my own knowledge on how much these bees are being sold in the market in the Philippines today. As an additional information, I will be noting up some key people behind and the institutions where you can ask, contact or approach to get a certification through a comprehensive government-authorized study program by University of the Philippines Los Banos in Laguna.

urban beekeepingHow I Started in Urban Beekeeping

First off, I would like to reiterate that you can actually start to become a beekeeper even if you don’t have the knowledge about bees, caring for them, feeding, forage, natural habitat, location, available food, where to get or buy beekeeping supplies and starter colony and the like. You can immediately buy your own starter colony but I can only assure you that it is a dangerous risk to buy and spend money just to learn from actual experience only to find out that you will fail without the right knowhow.

In my case, I did a 2 year comprehensive online research using different authority resources such as Youtube.Com, Google and other popular beekeeping websites. The only problem with doing your own research for applying it later in a tropical country like Asia, particularly the Philippines is that practical applications don’t fit to be used in our country 100%. By estimates, I would like to put it that only 20% can be used, 50% will have to come from your actual experience and the 30% more that you need to succeed in urban beekeeping will have to come from other sources. In my case, after 2 years of staggered research, I came to find from a Facebook Page of UPLB about the UP Bee Program which is a 6-day comprehensive beekeeping course offered here in the Philippines. There were 2 other great resources but one of them, you will have to take from Baguio in SLU-EISSIF Beekeeping Center in Baguio. If you wanted to take a good training, I strongly suggest to only go for either of these 2 resources. There are 2 more from which I haven’t had a chance to know how it goes. One is offered on Facebook by Negoskwela and another Pinoy urban beekeeper somewhere in Multinational Village Paranaque.

Best Resources for Commercial and Urban Beekeeping Standards

It is very rare these days to find exact information about urban beekeeping. So I started finding information using Google as my number one resource. One by one, I started bookmarking all the resources I can find to read later so I won’t miss trying to find them again. Bookmarking is one of the best ways to organize your useful websites in any passion or like you are in. Beekeeping is no different. Next to Google, one of my most loved actual (not theoretical) practical hands on practice resource is YouTube.Com. Finding a good resource in the world’s biggest search engine for actual application videos is a flash. I also tried to bookmark all of them and placed the channels and video playlists in one folder so I can get to access them again and again anytime. To help you develop a good beekeeper’s practice, you can always try to listen to one of my idol master beekeeper and Champlain Valley apiary owner, Michael Palmer. You can listen and watch all his videos here. I so love his take from the National Honey Show which featured good practices to grow your colony of bees into one strong and established colony. You can watch a great video from where I learned so many things about bees and the way to handling them below in a YouTube video.

uplb bee programWhere to Study Beekeeping Training and Get Certification?

Before you take your formal training, it is best to see first which bees are local and native to the Philippines. Being an urban beekeeping master, you have to know which bees can adapt with our natural environment and climate. Based from my own study, it is either the apis cerana or apis andreniformis or “lukot” or the Philippine stingless bee. These 2 are the most advisable to go for and buy a starter colony to take care and breed. Both don’t need a queen rearing program unlike the apis mellifera. On the other hand, there is another native bee that has gained popularity because of its super nutritious and 100% purity when it comes to honey produced. This is the apis dorsata, the giant bee of the Philippines which can only be caught in the wild and sadly, cannot be hived or cultured in our backyards.

With respect to formal training courses you can take in the Philippines I have mentioned above that there are actually 4 resources you can count on. Of all study programs, I would only recommend for you to take either the UPLB Bee Program or the SLSU Beekeeping Training.

Cost of Starter Colony for Commercial or Urban Beekeeping

  • Apis Mellifera – Php 10,000 to Php 12,000 per starter colony with 4 frames of sealed brood / pollen / honey / open brood including hive box
  • Apis Cerana – Php 3,000 to Php 5,000 per starter colony with frames including hive box
  • Apis Andreniformis or Philippine Stingless Bee – Php 1,500 to Php 2,500 per starter colony with hive box

If you are to take care of the apis mellifera or apis cerana, you might need a smoker which costs Php 1,800 to Php 2,000 and bee veil at Php 350

Overall Cost

Apis Mellifera – Php 12,000

smoker – Php 2,000

bee veil – Php 350

total cost – Php 14,350

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