This Former Seaman Now Has A Profitable Biz Through Stingless Bee Farming
Like many entrepreneurs, Mac Bergonio didn't actually plan on being one.
A former seaman by trade, Mac, unfortunately, had to let go of his occupation after eight years when he developed problems with his ear. That's when one of his in-laws introduced him to stingless bee farming and he started work at the Los Pepes Farm in Indang, Cavite.
Bee farming isn't for everybody, and Mac had to do some difficult work to get started and learn its ropes. He remembers how he had to find colonies of the local stingless bee, lukot.
"Dati naranasan nga namin na sumuong sa gubat-gubat," he tells the OG team. "Naranasan ko yung hirap kung pa'no buhatin yung mga malalaking kahoy na may naglalaman ng mga lukot. Challenge sa 'kin yung 'pag umuulan, maghahanap kami sa wild ng mga feral colonies. Hindi basta-basta yung pagkuha no'n kasi may tendency na mamatay sila o hindi sila magtuloy kapag pinalipat namin sa box."
Lukot, native to the Philippines, is different from the common bee and is commonly mistaken as a pest, Mac explains. It's also called munggo-munggo because the bees' eggs look like mung beans. While these insects may be stingless, they can however still attack.
"Ang pinakamaganda po sa kanila, yung hindi naaabot ng malalaking bubuyog na nectar o mapapagkuhanan nila ng mga pollen sa bulaklak, sila po yung nakakakuha," Mac says. "Sila po yung nakakasimot o nakakakuha nung pinakamataas na nutrients."
Another good thing about the lukot is that they're incredibly low-maintenance since they don't require a lot of care and you don't need to feed them. All the bee farmers need to do is to provide them with a good house and have different kinds of flowering plants for their pollen needs.
The Los Pepes Farm is home to 200 colonies of bees, which lives in alternative hives, such as wooden boxes and even old trolley bags or chairs. In fact, Mac even used his child's old chair as a house for their bees. Once bees move into the new homes, the containers take on an old, dusty appearance, something which Mac says helps the bees ward off invaders.
Why Bee Farming Can Be A Lucrative Business
Mac may have bid farewell to his seafaring days, but the bee farming business has become a blessing for him and his family. With many people becoming health-conscious during the pandemic, honey became a hot commodity for its medicinal benefits.
With the bees, the Los Pepes Farm is able to produce sought-after products such as pollen, propolis, and organic honey. Pollen serves as a source of multivitamins and an immune system-booster, while propolis can be used as a massage oil, throat spray, lip balm, mosquito balm, and ointment.
Like any business, there are good months and bad months, and at times, the Los Pepes Farm can earn as much as six digits from its sales. More than anything, though, the venture has allowed Mac and his family to pursue their dreams.
"Sa katunayan, dahil nga do'n, nakapagpatayo kami ng bahay," Mac shares. "Natutupad namin yung mga pangarap namin na dati ay hindi ko naipundar o hindi ko naabot."
To learn more about the Los Pepes Farm and its bee products, visit their Facebook page.
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