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From the Flower to the Plate: The Hardworking Bees of La Union

La Union

Rafael Reynante
Rafael Reynante | Feb 19, 2016

I always found the saying “busy as a bee” as something laughable; exactly how busy can you be, if all you do is eat and collect honey? But having gotten close and intimate (without being stung) with the bees of La Union have since dispelled my ludicrous ignorance, and showed me just how hardworking and intelligent bees truly are.

As part of the many legs of our NLEX Lakbay Norte tour, we visited the La Union Honeybee Center in Bacnotan, La Union. There, we were given a tour of their facilities, as well as given a short introduction on the life cycle of the bee, from its time as an egg, to a larvae, and eventually to an adult worker or queen.

You see, in any honeybee colony, there can be anywhere between a thousand to ten thousand honeybees at any given time. These bees are divided into castes: namely, the queen who lays the eggs and manages the workers; the workers, females who feed and maintain all the members of the colony; and drones, males whose sole responsibility is to find and mate an unmated queen. All these bees are managed by the beekeepers of the Honeybee Center, and are kept in individual boxes. The very capable beekeepers of the center know their bees intimately: from what makes them angry, to what calms them down. Any more intimate, and the bees would probably have their own names, given by the keepers.

These colonies are basically wooden boxes composed of wireframes, reinforced with wood pulp and wax. Over time, and as the honeybees use the frames, the wax and wood pulp are eaten away, leaving behind that iconic hexagonal cavity where the bees store their eggs and their honey. Come harvest time, these frames will be collected by the keepers, put into a honey extractor where they separate the honey from the wax, and are rebuilt to be used again by the bees. This process is completely safe for the bees, and only the honey they produce is extracted, which technically makes honey a vegetarian-friendly product.

Bees eat the flowers of corn, right before they turn into fully-grown corn.

Then, the honey is bottled for sale, or can be processed further to make wines and drinks, and even soaps and detergents. As it is, the honey is sold at PhP 150 per bottle. Not bad, seeing as how difficult it was for the honeybees to collect all of it. Besides, you’re paying for the peace of mind that the honey you’re purchasing is pure and unadulterated, compared to the synthetic and sugar-based honey that’s so cheap and commercially available.

So, now the question is, how many bottles of honey will you be giving your Queen Bee?


How to get there:

There are many buses that travel from Manila to La Union and Pangasinan. You can easily visit the Honeybee Center to buy your own bottle of pure honey, since the Center is just beside MacArthur Highway in Bacnotan, La Union. And since you're there already, you might as well tell your Honey Bae how much sweetness she adds to your life.

Last January, Choose Philippines was invited by NLEX and the North Philippines Visitor's Bureau to travel to Northern Luzon and see what it had to offer travelers like us. The trip was sponsored by Victory Liner Inc, Petron, DOT Region 1, La Union CVB, Pangasinan CVB & Provincial Tourism Office of Pangasinan. Stay tuned for more articles about our recent trip to the North, only here at Choose Philippines! 


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