March 2, 2024

Call it chance or providential encounter.

Last Saturday afternoon, we suddenly found a swarm of buzzing bees at the side of our house. Some had entered the house thru the window and some were continuously buzzing outside in big numbers. My panic button turned red. This natural fear of being stung by bees or “apiphobia” is foremost in everyone’s mind.  The Speakmans’ explained that our phobia is probably inherited or imbibed by being constantly told about it or by having the experience of being stung. I actually had such an experience. The pain was excruciating and the swelling lasted quite a few days.

In a state of helplessness, I went to search for beekeepers in Baguio in the Internet, or one that I can call immediately, should the swarm of critters increase. Eureka! I found one called the Baguio Beekeepers Association, an agricultural cooperative. I sent a message thru messenger and was quite surprised when I got a response right away with “how may I help you?”

But just as quickly as the bees appeared, they also disappeared. I told the person who answered me, that the bees were already gone and that I would send a message again should the swarm return. I asked who the person was and he answered: “Karl Ivan Daweg Dalleg po.” 

He again politely inquired, “What happened po ma’am? Do you have any pictures para po ma distinguish ko kung ano pong klaseng honey bees. Kasi babalik po ulit ang mga yan kung sakali. Mas mainam pong maalis yung bahay nila, habang hindi pa sila gaanong marami o mahina pa.”

Wow! This is what I call efficiency. Action agad. But fortunately, the bees were gone. To make the story short, that got me interested in bees. After all, these creatures help us pollinate the flowers and the trees. They mean us no harm except when they are threatened. Nevertheless, just as we fear snakes, we also fear bees. They both have venom and are quick to bite or sting. What is the difference between bees and wasps?

Simon Whistler tells us that bees and wasps look the same, golden in color. Bees have fuzzy hair and are fatter while wasps are smoother and shinier. Wasps have narrow waist and pointed abdomen and are generally more aggressive. Readings tell us that “bees are a symbol of wealth, good luck, and prosperity since the ancient times. Its gold color is associated with prosperity and is a potent symbol of fertility, wisdom, chastity, love, success and hard work.”  Folklore says, “that the presence of bees in your house is a sign of good luck.”

I asked this polite beekeeper if he has a farm and how he started it. I was not aware that there were beekeepers in Baguio. I knew that honey sold in the market came from somewhere in Benguet. Beekeepers are also called honey farmers or apiarists.

Twenty-five-year-old Karl Dalleg owns a backyard farm in Balacbac. He was born in Baguio and is the eldest of four boys. Three of his siblings are in Kalinga namely:  Nicole Jules, Aron Kyle and Charles Ejay Ngappol. His aunt Virginia Dalleg took care of him.

“I started beekeeping as a hobby sometime November of 2014 up to 2016. In 2017, my cousin started his bee farm and I helped take care of it until last year. This year, I started my own farm. Honey selling is one of my businesses.  I own Baguio’s Finest Honey. I have a special attraction to bees and I like them because they are important insects. If the bees die, the flowers will die too. I do beekeeping in my own backyard. I am supported by my experience and things I learned from school. At the moment, I don’t have a partner,” shares Karl.

A report from the Benguet State University states that “locally produced honey comes from four species of honeybees. Three are indigenous bees, Apis cerana (anig- wild bees), Apis dorsata (uyukan) and Tetragunola spp. (stingless bees, lukot or lukotan), and Apis mellifera (culture bees introduced by the Americans as early as 1913). A large percentage of locally-produced honey is produced by the introduced honeybee here in Benguet.”

Karl cannot remember how many times he got stung by bees. It’s part of the work. However, his advice is to put ice or to just let it subside. He mentioned that sometimes bee stings have a good effect on the body, except when the person is allergic to it, then it can be dangerous. His first attempt at bee culture went well. However, challenges happened along the way and this is his second attempt which is quite challenging as he is struggling because he lost his capital. He advises future beekeepers to be careful. Partners should be trustworthy, diligent, should have a little experience and knowledge on how things work in the farm and passionate of beekeeping. He must also have ideas, be a team player and must share capital requirement or “puhunan.” Foremost, beekeepers should undergo basic seminar and training.

The Cordillera Regional Apiculture Center (CRAC) of BSU and the  Saint Louis University Extension Institute for Small-Scale Industries Foundation (SLU-EISSIF)  both conduct basic beekeeping seminars, and trainings. Usual courses offered are: Introductory Beekeeping for Beginners (this covers bee biology and anatomy, tools and equipment in beekeeping, hive management, pest and diseases, melliferous plants, honey extraction and harvest of other bee products) and Advanced Beekeeping (this covers queen rearing, role of queen in the colony, production of queen cells, starter and finisher hives, mating nucs and mating of virgin queens, introduction of queen to nucs hives and practical selective breeding for beekeepers).

For those interested in beekeeping, you may get in touch with Karl at his mobile phone 09212900905, or his Facebook account, Baguio’s Finest Honey.