July 13, 2024

Government must respond to research needs of beekeepers

AS A FUNDAMENTAL COMPONENT TO becoming self-reliant in terms of honey production, beekeepers must be empowered to effectively stem conflicts resulting from the negative perceptions about the bees.
Because honey sales are barely enough to feep their families, beekeepers resort to other income generating activities like being dealers of supplies, selling of colonies, or providing training services with a fee.
However, local settings call for resourcefulness through the use of simple, affordable, and fabrication of gears; colony sales due to numerous rigged transactions, must be reviewed so that standards could be imposed. Free trainings on beekeeping must be provided as the livelihood could be a strategy to combat the impacts of global warming, ensure food security, and help attain a liveable environment.
If education is free in state universities and colleges and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or Agricultural Training Institute provide free livelihood training that includes stipends and starter kits, there should also be free training on beekeeping, an undertaking that helps save Mother Earth.
Honey producers could hardly sustain their profitability under the current scenario – persistent resistance of communities and indifference of research agencies to the need to come up with data that would help assuage resentment towards beekeeping.
Other than producing sweet syrup, bees are friendly insects as they could help manage pests. “We cannot wait forever,” exasperated practitioners and Beekeepers Association of the Philippines, Inc. officers have been saying.
There is a need to recalibrate the beekeeping industry, establish a system of administration, update development plans with the participation of beekeepers. They should also be included in the selection of key personnel of the National Apiculture Research, Training, and Development Institute and its satellite offices and minimize outsiders from influencing the personnel of agencies in charge of the beekeeping industry.
Across the country, there are beekeeping potentials that are unique for each region but are not developed due to social acceptability issues. The Cordillera stands out when it comes to honey production. In the region, “production colony” yield ranges from 60 kilos to 100 kilos and 35 to 50 kilos for the major and minor honey flows, respectively in selected areas, yet vandalism of the honey production areas is overtaking the promise of profit.
This makes the volume of production unpredictable. It increases depending on the number of beekeepers, their resources and preparation of production colonies when the flowers bloom, and the temperament of communities around the areas where beekeeping is done.
The challenges are perennially daunting. Every year, new members join the association of beekeepers but some stop operation after some time as they do not actually raise bees. Others choose to seek employment overseas after learning the rudiments of the trade.
Amidst the numerous misconceptions about beekeeping, agencies mandated to conduct researches on the industry do not have data to prove that bees are indispensable in seeds development, in ensuring the survival of the next generation of plants, in maintaining or increasing vegetation; and in fruits setting and development for nutritious food. There is also no research to establish the beekeepers’ roles in carbon sequestration through the enhancement of bee pasture.
Bees play an important role in the country’s forest and in agricultural and ornamental vegetation. There should be local researches because studies and statistics done by other countries on beekeeping may not be applicable to local setting.
There should be researches on the role of bees in seeds’ formation, in increasing the yield of fruits and how the insects could pre-empt reproduction of pathogens that would have been subject of pesticide spraying if not for the emptying of flower nectaries of bignay, kasoy, lauan, narra, acacia, santol, caimito, bayabas, kapeng Tagalog or Arabica, kapeng Robusta, kapeng Excelsa, kapeng barako or Liberica, sitaw, ampalaya, and palay, Baguio beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, sweet peas, mountain lily, wild sunflower, etc. and outcomes if bee sanctuaries are established, as what bee caretakers have been rooting for other than honey production.
If communities are convinced that they could also benefit from the industry, they might become carers of the bees, without necessarily engaging in beekeeping. They might help disseminate the benefits derived from these important but underrated insects. — ALVIN AYUGAT, Bauko, Mountain Province