Uganda Honey

Honey in its purest

B.E.S.T. in progress……………………

Honeybees were once treated as enemy or pest when it gets into a home. Not anymore. With proper education and sensitization, we can actually live harmoniously together with them.

Mr. Zolkaflil Aris had a colony of apis cerana nesting in his letter box for almost a year now. Being an animal lover, he was reluctant to have that colony destroyed. He was wondering what to do with it.

When I arrived at his residence in Damasara, I realized that urbanization had destroyed many natural habitat for these little ladies. I believed if they had their choices, they would not want to interfere with us humans. But with the fast pace of urbanization and deforestation to make way for our development, their natural habitat were somehow encroached.

I shared with Mr. Aris how he can convert his letterbox into a comfortable home for these honeybees and learn how to live with them. In return, this new hobby of his will be rewarding. For the effort in looking after them, they will provide a regular flow of honey for his family.

This idea had created a win win situation for all. Instead of killing them, with proper knowledge instilled, human and insect can live harmoniously together.

Mr. Aris was taught how to calm the bees with a simple smoker.

Opening up the "beehive" for the very first time.

A colony of apis cerana well under controlled.

A little bit more smoke to let them stay in place.

A wild colony of apis cerana had became a family pet for Mr. Aris.

After going through the process a few times, He felt that honeybees were not as dangerous as one always looked at them if there understood their needs and wants. Getting aggressive is just part of nature’s way in protecting themselves. If they were handled with tender loving care, they can be very good house pets.

Before we part, his wisdom gave me a new light in having honeybees as pets. He said,” Whenever people go for holidays, they tend to worry about their pets. Where should they put them, who to feed them, will they be stressed if they don’t come back soon. But as for honeybees being so independent, they do not have to worry for them, they find their own food and look after themselves”.

He had bought a new letter box for his normal mails since then.

I am glad that I had embarked on a journey that life lessons never end. 🙂

B.E.S.T. – Bringing Ecology and Society Together.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | apiculture, bee colony, bee hive, Beekeeping, beekeeping journal | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beekeeping in Malaysia – Malacca (The feasibility study Part 4)…………………….

Bus route from Kedah to Malacca. Took a break half way at Kuala Lumpur.

The bus ride from Kedah to Kuala Lumpur took almost 6 hours. I had a break in Kuala Lumpur before a friend of mine drove me another 2 hours further South to the thriving city of Malacca.

Extracted from Wikipedia – Malacca (dubbed The Historic State or Negeri Bersejarah among locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south. The capital is Malacca City, which is 148 km south east of Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur, 235 km north west to Johor’s largest city Johor Bahru and 95 km north west to Johor’s second largest city Batu Pahat. This historical city centre has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7 July 2008.

Although it was the location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates, the monarchy was abolished when the Portuguese conquered it in 1511. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri or Governor, rather than a Sultan, acts as the head of state now.

Mr. Ong had been a beekeeper for the last 25 years and his bee farm could be considered one of the largest one in the whole of West Malaysia. He used to keep apis cerana in the seventies but after the introduction of European bees, apis italiana, Malaysia honey industry using apis cerana was completly wiped out due to the introduction of viruses by the European species as well.

Since then, the domestication of apis cerana had been unsuccessful until of late, many small scale farmers are beginning to use apis cerana again. it is a good sign that these species coming back.

Right now, Mr Ong had been keeping the European species after learning how to treat them. He does not have any of the asian species anymore but instead started to keep stingless bees. He found keeping stingless bees are very interesting too.

Bee exhibition hall

Wall to wall bee display

Information counter

Interior view of stingless bees colony

Mr. Ong and his bees

Honey production centre

August 22, 2011 Posted by | apiculture, bee colony, bee hive, Beekeeping, beekeeping journal, beekeeping training, honey harvest, Honey Processing, Sustainable Beekeeping | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beekeeping in Malaysia – Penang (The feasibility study Part 1)…………………….

Before my feasibility study officially starts next Monday, my hands were already itching, not from bee stings, but getting ready for my hands on with the beekeeping industry in Malaysia.

My first encounter with bees is visiting a tourist destination in the middle of Georgetown, Penang. Its called the “Bee Gallery”. Here you can see the various types of bees found in Penang.

I realized that this place belongs to Mr Ong, who has another tourist attraction located at Malacca. Somehow the set up was similar but on a smaller scale.

There were two sales ladies manning the shop. They were basically there to answer simple questions about honey and to introduce the different kinds of honey available for sale. Other than that, you would not be able to get in depth questions being answered.

I was surprised to get this information from one of them. She mentioned that only hornets and wasps venom can kill, not honeybees. She even assured me that honeybees venom are not poisonous and has healing properties. Well, I felt that this information was very misleading. She was right and wrong at the same time. All of us react differently to bee venom. Some can take a few thousand stings but others can be killed with only one sting. Some react violently to the venom and can go into anaphylactic shock which can lead to death if not attend to immediately. There are some medical benefit being investigated regarding honeybee venom in relation to apitherapy. Some Therapists use honeybee venom to relieve people who have arthritis. But that does not mean the honeybee venom can be applied to everybody.

Many people in Asia I came across, often believe what these sales ladies say. They would simply take their words for it without probing further. I asked a few more questions and then decided to stop because I knew it would be pointless for me  to pursue further.

They had a row of beehives on display. Only 2 hives were occupied, one with an Italian species while the other colony is a species commonly found in Malaysia. They are called “Trigonas”. These bees are also called “stingless bees”.

This place do have a great varieties of honey and its by products. Its educational approach was somehow comprehensive enough for laymen. Anyway, many would not know what sort of questions to ask. Overall presentation was good. But somehow, I felt that the sale ladies should upgrade themselves with better and correct knowledge in order to provide more in depth information for the customer to understand. I felt there is too much emphasis on trying to sell the product.

Little knowledge is dangerous.

A very good effort made to educate public on the different types of bees.

Information comprehensive enough for laymen.

A number of choices for honey and its by products.


August 4, 2011 Posted by | apiculture, bee colony, bee hive, Beekeeping, beekeeping journal, Beeswax candles, honey, honey byproduct, raw honey | , , , | 4 Comments

New journey about to begin…………………….

Lately there hasn’t been much activities here other than my regular training of beekeepers. Comes next month, my beekeeping adventure and journal will begin for the first time nearer to home, West Malaysia.

After a year of discussion and planning, the feasibility study of setting up a bee education centre at Kampung Temasek in Johor Bahru, Malaysia will begin. I had already began my ground work, arranging visits to bee farms, centres and making appointments to meet agriculturist at universities. In the process, I got to know some beekeepers in Malaysia as well. We had started to exchange notes and I am looking forward to visit their bee farm.

Azman Ali and his bees.

Azman and I began to share our passion mid of February this year and I am glad that I will soon be able to have a chance to see what beekeeping is about in Malaysia.

The species of honeybees that Azman is keeping is the one that I am keen to explore, Apis Cerenas. During my last two trips to Chiang Rai, North Thailand working with the Akhai tribes, there were also using the cerenas. Between the two, what I saw is that Azman is applying more of the modern method while the tribal folks are still keeping bees traditionally.

Azman's friend who is also a keen beekeeper.

Apis Cerenas are slightly more aggressive than the European bees. They are indigenous and I believe domesticating them would be a beneficial move for the local bee farmers. They can be captured from the wild.

I am really excited to travel back, closer to home to share what I had learned during my stay in Uganda.

After being a beekeeper, it had open up a whole new horizon and getting to know so many beekeepers out there who are playing their part in balancing the ecological system. I just hope that some beekeepers that had been mistreating these insects in the name of modernization will change their mindset and protect them rather than abusing them.

If you had read my previous post, you will find that such abusive skills are still being introduced in Uganda by these overseas commercial bee farmers coming here, highly paid by NGOs. One thing sad about the local farmers in Uganda is that they always felt that overseas bee professionals are always right. They do not dare to question.

A bee hive for education purposes.

I could still remember a few years back, a team of beekeepers from USA came and said they wanted to help the local community. Actually from the way I look at it, they were just simply using this idea to raise funds so that they can come for a nice holiday. They have no experience in African bees yet they tried to teach the local folks. They got the whole village running for cover when the colonies turned aggressive. After that incident, I don’t see them coming back or doing any follow ups anymore. It was a nice holiday trip for them and those who had funded their trip just simply did it blindly. A waste of resources.

Many honeybees are dying for no apparent reasons. I just wish that beekeepers must realize the seriousness and embark on natural beekeeping instead.

 

June 21, 2011 Posted by | apiculture, bee colony, bee hive, beekeeping journal, beekeeping training | | 4 Comments