|A bee nest box is made by digging a tree trunk and covered with rocks. — Photo thanhnien.vn|
QUẢNG NAM — Hồ Văn Phước is absolutely buzzing about bees.
That's because the Phước Lộc Commune, Phước Sơn District, Quảng Nam Province resident has hundreds of nest boxes on tree trunks that provide the main source of income for his family.
Like many other people from the Giẻ Triêng ethnicity in remote Hamlet 6, Phước started to learn how to make bee nest boxes on tree trunks when he was small, following his father to the deep forests.
The villagers make new boxes and check old ones in the lunar month of early February when the weather is warm and enjoy their sweet rewards in May.
They choose big tree trunks with a lot of shade that are located near streams to make the nest boxes, but pleasant smelling trunks are the best choice.
Each nest box with 40cm deep and 25cm wide is made by digging out a trunk area one metre from the ground. Villagers cover each box with rocks and soil, then put one to two finger-size holes on the outside of the box for bees to enter.
“The tree trunks must be big and hard enough so that the trees will not die when the trunks are dug. The bigger the box is, the more honey we can collect,” Hồ Văn Đồng, an elderly villager, told Thanh Niên (Vanguard) newspaper.
Hồ Văn Nhỏ, another old villager, said the key to success is to select rocks to cover the boxes. Each rock has identical features for bees to mark the path and call other bees to make nests.
Each rock put in place will stay in the bees’ ‘houses’ for long, up to dozens of years, and will be kept for use in the next season. It is called the 'rock of sovereignty', Nho said.
If the rocks are replaced by new ones in the next season, bees will leave their nests, he said.
Living in areas surrounded by forests in Phước Sơn District and close to Kon Tum Province, people in Hamlet 6 would live in poor conditions without beekeeping.
All 35 households in the village own at least 20 boxes and some own hundreds.
Hồ Văn Mến, who owns nearly 200 nest boxes and collects hundreds of litres of honey a year, said he can cover living expenditures for his five children thanks to beekeeping.
Another beekeeper, Hồ Văn Phước, owns 30 boxes each of which produces one to two litres of honey per year. On average, he collects more than 50 litres of honey annually. Each litre is sold at VNĐ400,000 to VNĐ500,000 (US$17-21).
Bee nest boxes have become valuable properties of villagers as they are the main source of income for local people. Each owner has identical marks to distinguish their nest boxes from others.
“We all know bee nest boxes are personal properties and no one touches or steals boxes not belonging to them,” villager Hồ Văn Mến said.
Bees have a habit of making nests in empty rotten tree trunks. Knowing about this, many people chop down the trunks to get honey, Phước said.
“Giẻ Triêng people choose a different way. We dig a hole in the trunk to lure bees,” he said.
Tree trunks on which bee nest boxes are made bring profits to villagers. Beekeepers here are also nature protectors.
“Losing forests means losing our huge profits,” Phước said. That’s why every villager is aware of the tree trunks’ important role and protects trees
If spotting any sign of deforestation, villagers report it to the police.
Hồ Văn Đoàn, who leads the police team of Phước Lộc Commune, said this meant deforestation never occurred in the area. — VNS