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Back when we were travelling to the remote areas of the Philippines that we realized the extent of the bio-diversity that exists. Talking to the local bee keepers, we discovered that manuka honey is not the only medicinal honey. Nature has gifted us with a lesser-known bee variety that are so tiny yet so potent the honey it produces – Trigona (Tetragonula) Biroi, the Philippine species of stingless bees.
These bees, looking more like house flies, are unfortunate casualties of toxic chemicals at farms. Mostly unseen and unknown, the value of their role in nature is also not recognised. Yet these bees, as with any other bee which have seen devasting population decline, are important to the pollination of countless crops that provide us with the food we eat - such as mango, pineapple, coconut, pili nuts.
This decline is largely due to poor farming practices – mainly the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers – to the detriment of the bee population and our health. Many farmers in the Philippines are caught in the cycle of poverty from generations due to these practises. Together with our beekeepers, we work hard to change their mindset and farming practices, in hopes of improving their crops quality, yield and eventual livelihoods.
Slowly, we’re seeing small farming communities transition towards making their own natural pesticides and fertilisers – coupled with the use of these stingless bees as pollinators. They now produce organically-farmed crops, harvest a larger crop yield, and have delicious trigona honey to sell as additional income.
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