Honey makers profit from Lang Son flowers

Farmers in the northern province of Lang Son and neighbouring provinces are earning good money from honey throughout the year.

With fresh and cool weather, Van Thuy Commune in Chi Lang District has many kinds of wildflowers and their honey-making is also very developed. There is a huge amount of ivy trees in Van Thuy which are popular as medicine for coughs and high blood pressure.

Honey made with ivy trees is especially expensive since the ivy trees only bloom once at the end of the year, in November and December. During this time, the bees often go into hibernation but the bees in Van Thuy still work, producing the honey that tastes both sweet and bitter.

Wildflower honey costs VND350,000 (USD350,000) per litre while the ivy tree honey costs VND500,000 per litre. Despite the higher prices, Van Thuy farmers said they couldn't meet demand. Many households in Van Thuy have established a co-operative and created their own brand of honey to improve business.

Hoang Van Phuong, director of the co-operative, said, "We have 22 members with 500 beehives, most of them are in Na Phuoc and Na Pat villages. Last year, many members produced over 100 litres of honey and earned VND40m (USD1,700) to VND50m."

Even households who are not raising bees still have hundreds of beehives in their gardens. They actually belong to neighbouring farmers in Bac Giang, Thai Nguyen and Hai Duong who also like the flowers in Lang Son. However, in order to raise bees, farmers have to understand and love them.

Doan Van Tien

Doan Van Tien in Bac Giang Province has 20 years of experience. To him, raising the bees is like raising children.

"The bees start breeding in February and March when the weather gets warmer. We have to check the number of bees, and divide the queens and young queen bees between the beehives so that the bees won't fly away," he said.

Tien only keeps 350 bee hive boxes and sold the rest. He then brings the bees everywhere to find the best sources of flowers and earns over VND200m (USD8,600) each year for the bees and honey sold. Van Thuy Commune is often the most valuable flower source. With experience, Tien was able to avoid any unnecessary disputes with local people.

"The people in mountainous areas are very honest and genuine so I have to gain their trust and they will think of me as their family. When I'm not there, they will help cover up the beehives when the weather gets bad. They didn't charge me money at all and only receive a few litres of honey," Tien said.