Leyte bee farm: A tourist attraction that provides education, livelihood

Published July 4, 2019, 6:51 PM

by CJ Juntereal

By Marie Tonette Marticio

TUNGA, Leyte – A 400-square-meter bee farm in the smallest town in Leyte is making a name for itself by providing education and livelihood, as well as advocating for environmental conservation.

Beengo Farm (Photo via Marie Marticio / MANILA BULLETIN)
Beengo Farm (Photo via Marie Marticio / MANILA BULLETIN)

Beengo Farm started as a hobby for its owner-manager, Gary Ayuste, who worked overseas for seven years before he got interested in farming, and eventually, in beekeeping.

“We got the farm for our family and not for business purposes, Beengo means bees and mangoes, which were our first plants here,” he shared.

The bee sanctuary, often mistaken for a restaurant, is 35 kilometers away from the capital Tacloban City. It is situated beside a river, which is one of the cleanest in Leyte province.

Since it was opened to the public in October 2017, thousands of local and foreign tourists flock the farm to relax, eat and learn about beekeeping.

The farm offers all organic food, such as blue rice, “nilupak,” and tea made from freshly picked herbs, in line with the Department of Tourism’s campaign to promote “slow food.”

They also give free honey tasting, honey analysis, and lectures on distinguishing authentic honey from adulterated ones during weekends.

“Having a bee farm near the houses is an advantage, especially those who have vegetable plants because they will have a better harvest.”

Due to the influx of tourists, he formed the Empowered Farmers Association of San Vicente comprised of 22 housewives who supply native chickens and vegetables, and are also employed in the farm.

“We are proud to have organized a group who can raise its own funds through their hard work, and is not dependent from the government,” he said.

Beengo Farm has been tapped by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Eastern Visayas as a learning site, which provides trainings on basic beekeeping.

They also adopted schools, wherein they donate colonies for beekeeping.

Ayuste, being an advocate of community service, protection of bees and sustainable resources for the community, aims to encourage people to keep bees not only for honey, but for pollination of plants.

“Our goal is to support our local farmers to have a good harvest because of enhanced pollination of plants, and to preserve our environment by improving biodiversity,” he noted.

He keeps native honey producing bees, such as stingless bees or “kiwot” and “ligwan,” believed to have anti-aging effects.

Bees play a significant role in the pollination of different crops. Aside from the honey that they produce, there are also a number of valuable non-food apiary products such as pollen, queen substance, propolis and beeswax that are used in cleaning and beauty products.

“I call beekeeping as a responsible type of business because you give so much to the environment,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ayuste shared that Beengo Farm is currently developing a nature-themed library for the farmers’ children to have access to quality books.

“We accept book donations, and everyone who wants to read can just come here. We also have volunteer teachers every weekend who will guide those who are still learning how to read,” he ended.