A man from southern Vietnam has spent the last 14 years raising honeybees, not only securing himself financially but also motivating others in the region to spread the farming.
Tran Thanh Long, 29, is the first person to start raising bees for honey in Tan Cong Sinh Commune, Tam Nong District, located in Dong Thap Province in the Mekong Delta, where he comes from.
Recently he has been recognized for his innovation in making a living while also helping many other villagers earn a stable and decent income.
Inspired by the sight of a flower
Every year, Long is able to sell around 25,000 liters of honey at VND400,000 (US$17) per liter, generating over VND 1 billion ($43,000) in profit.
“When I first started raising honeybees, there were many challenges,” Long said.
“But then I employed a good method so the original number of 50 packages of bees has grown into 450 packages, all of which are now kept in an area of 500 square meters.”
His beekeeping career started in 2005 as Long’s father in-law Hut noticed bees being attracted by northern black wattle flowers abundant in Tram Chim National Park, located near their home.
After Hut talked to the family about his idea of farming bees for honey, the family decided to invest in 50 packages of bees bought from the southeastern region of Vietnam.
Each package of bees cost around VND2 million ($86).
Long had to spend lots of time studying and researching to find the most suitable and effective method, while also keeping an eye on the market to always guarantee the best price for his products.
However, since honeybees are easily affected by the weather, they easily get sick and die off.
Hence, it remains crucial for Long to pay close attention and care for the bees.
In many cases, due to a lack of northern black wattle flowers in his region, he has had to move the honeybees to other localities in the Mekong Delta region such as Can Tho City, Vinh Long Province, and Hau Giang Province, to guarantee the quality of the honey the bees produce.
Despite having already attained significant success, he still desires more from his business.
The man is trying to make changes to his products’ appearance to make them more attractive, smaller in size, and more convenient for tourists.
His beekeeping group consists of around 15 members with him being responsible for raising techniques and sales.
So Long also works to have a good understanding of the prices of the products he is buying as well as the market trends to be able to sell the honey at the best price possible.
Having a successful business, the 29-year-old does not forget about others in the region as he helps them attain the financial stability he is currently enjoying.
Nguyen Van Nghia, one of Long’s employees, used to take on any job available from spraying pesticides to cutting grass, in order to provide for his family.
Despite the physically demanding and time-consuming work, he was only able to make around VND150,000 ($6.5) a day during harvest seasons.
When the seasons ended, Nghia had no job and no income to support his family.
However, ever since he started working for Long, his family has been financially stable while he enjoys a wage of around VND200,000 ($8.5) a day all year round.
“I have been working for Long for almost two years now,” Nghia said.
“Now I have been able to save up a little and I have been raising some bees myself to increase my income.
“Long helps guarantee me a good price after I collect the honey.”
Nguyen Van Ho is another farmer that Long offered help and financial comfort.
“Ever since Long showed me how to raise bees, my family’s life has been much more comfortable,” he said.
“At this pace, from the original 90 packages of bees I will be able to multiply them and no longer worry about my family’s financial situation.”
Long’s efforts are not only recognized by the people there, but also by local authorities.
At the end of last year, Long was given the Luong Dinh Cua Award in agricultural production, as he was chosen by the district’s farmers’ association.
The Luong Dinh Cua Award is usually presented to individuals in agriculture who are innovative, learn how to increase their income, and help many others, especially the unemployed, make a living.
Long always reaches out to help the poor farmers make a living on their own and when they collect honey, he always buys it from them at a reasonable price instead of trying to bargain to get a good deal like merchants usually do.
Moreover, his way of raising bees for honey has recently attracted many tourists to visit him on weekends and holidays, contributing to the development of tourism in the region, according to Nguyen Minh Tho, a local official.