16 Jun2009

Busy Bees

by Marketman


It could have been a scene from a grade B horror movie entitled “The Swarm”… Thousands upon thousands of bees around a hive in plain sight in broad daylight. They picked a fairly sturdy branch on a tree directly over a two lane road that is passed fairly often! We like to take brisk walks at the beach to burn up some of the calories we take in, and in recent months this small clump of bees has steadily grown to what now is one of the largest hanging hives/swarms I have ever seen. Thank goodness for 20x zoom on the camera or I would never think to voluntarily get so close to this bunch of busy, and potentially nasty group of bees. And we are talking buff bees here, not the tiny wasps or smaller bee varieties. They must have had in-house gym facilities.


They were so “high-density-bee-per-space” that you couldn’t even see a hint of the honeycomb within. And because of the shape of the branch, the shape of the hive looked a bit unusual as opposed to all the cartoon-like perfect half football shaped hives I had grown up to expect. But I did briefly think about how to harvest the honey, or perhaps get some beeswax to make long-lasting and no-drip candles with. One of our crew said there were different prayers or chants you had to recite in order to ward off bee stings while you collected the honey. I told him he could try that approach while I covered myself in double netting… hahaha. Don’t worry, we never thought seriously of disturbing these amazing insects.


I’ve done several bee/honey posts in the past, so if you are curious, you might want to check out:

“Bees Do it And Die!”
Nectar of The Gods
Oranges from Valencia, Spain
Granola Recipe with Honey
Olive Wood Honey Sticks from Greece

And finally, there was a fairly lengthy discussion on the benefits of bees, spearheaded by bettyq in the comments section, on this post on pitaw a few months back…



  1. Maria Clara says:

    One bite that’s all it takes for a fatal bee stung! One will go into an anaphylactic shock in a matter of seconds. How do I know this? My guardian angels and some Good Samaritan folks saved me in one Lovely Summer of 1983 from death from a bee stung and now I have EpiPen with me everywhere I go.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 5:15 am


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  3. betty q. says:

    Ok… I am so happy to see those bees are up and doing what they are supposed to do. Yes, even in our backYARD, THE BEES HAVE COME BACK!!!!!!Generally, MM, bees only a lfe of about 55 to 60 days depending on the breed. Some have a life from anywhere to 2 to 6 months. If you want the honey, best to wait. Bees are attracted to dark colors. When I help draw the honey at the Community garden, I generally wear light colored clothing and no bright colors and no scented deodorant as well as scented soap!. We also have a slice of onion nearby in case anyone gets stung! Yes, we are drawing honey in a few weeks….about first weekof July. RAW HONEY ROCKS!!!!!

    Yup, M, those bees are not the Eurpoean Honeybee! They look more like a different APIS…but they are still bees! Honeybees are generally smaller and not aggressive!

    Jun 16, 2009 | 5:44 am

  4. ntgerald says:

    Also means that their environment is nontoxic to the insects. They help in pollinating a lot of flowers.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 6:00 am

  5. alilay says:

    i remember last year a colony of bees covered a branch of a “paper” tree( the bark peels off like paper) in our compound and here comes the gardener with his blower i have to stop him so as not to disturb the bees, i called Dewey Pest Control to terminate them , sorry.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 6:13 am

  6. Mangaranon says:

    At first glance, I thought it was a Goyard!

    Jun 16, 2009 | 7:20 am

  7. Apicio says:

    Mangaranon, what the dickens is a Goyard? Did you mean a Goyard handbag?

    MM, here is hoping you won’t consider me too forward but I just want to let you know I am awaiting your post on the mystery fruit with bated breath. Sorry, but you promised.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 7:56 am

  8. kurzhaar says:

    If they are swarming it usually means they have outgrown their current hive. Bees are the most amazing social insects. A swarming colony will send out its oldest (most experienced) worker bees as “scouts”. (These are all female by the way…go ladies!) A scout looks around to find a likely spot, then comes back to the hive and does a waggle dance to communicate where the location of the potential new home is. The more enthusiastic her waggle dance is, the more attention the other bees will pay to her, and some will go and check it out for themselves. Eventually one spot will have more and more scouts checking it out and even deciding to “set up camp” as it were…when they reach a certain number, the rest of the hive will follow. It’s quite a democratic and amazing process…bees will move their colony quite some distance based only on the scout’s waggle dance information.

    Bees are among the most important parts of a healthy ecosystem and are essential for many domesticated crops (fruits, nuts, vegetables). Honeybees are of course extra special because of their honey, but all bee species are useful, including the big bumblebees. Most bees WILL NOT sting unless cornered. Please do not kill them!!!

    Jun 16, 2009 | 7:58 am

  9. yel says:



    Jun 16, 2009 | 8:00 am

  10. Paula says:

    that is the creepiest thing ever.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 8:50 am

  11. sanojmd says:

    wow..so scary.. won’t even dare go near these busy bees.. scary.. they already build a community on that tree branch..

    Jun 16, 2009 | 9:04 am

  12. betty q. says:

    My apologies, yel! I woke up at 5 am today to start the dough on the pilipit kasi I remember, Mil took forever to make it kasi naman I think she doubled the recipe she gave me! Then, I ended up doing more strawberry jam instead since the berries are sooo ripe in the field and sooo good! So I ended up picking guess what Natie…close to 30 pounds today! Anyway, here is the pilipit recipe YEL as translated by FIL.

    I have no yield for you but this is enough to feed the whole town! When I helped MIL make them, we start like 9 a.m. and end up late in the afternoon.

    1/2 pound butter, melted(if choleseterol is an issue, I have done it with olive oil and masarap…esp. with the garlic infused olive oil described below!)
    2 pounds all purpose flour
    2 tsp. salt (see my substitution below)
    3 tsp. yeast dissolved in 3/4 cup warm water with 1 tsp. sugar

    I have altered MIL recipe. …mas malinamnam…for the salt above, I used 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp garlicky seasoned salt. For the melted butter, I added some crushed garlic and let that saute slowly but not browned. Strain and let that cool. Then add it to the dough. I also added about 1/2 cupWARM BEER

    Put the flour, salt in bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and the melted butter. Knead until smooth and elastic adding more flour if needed. Cover and let it rise. Then divide the dough into small balls. Each ball roll thinly into a square. Then cut into strips PENCIL THIN and about a little over 1 dangkal long. Now. hold one end and twist and fold one end to touch the other end. Hold that end with thumb and it will twist by itself. You need someone to help you with all these pilipit. …as IO have said it makes a looot….or divide the dough in half instead of making a full batch. Cover and let it rise for about 15 to 20 minutes. Heat oil in deep kawali and deep fry over medium heat. ,…not high heat or the center of the dough will be uncooked. Just 1 pilipit and see if just right color, if not, adjust the heat. Drain on paper towels and keep in air tight container. You can also, package these in those cellophane bags and give away to kapitbahays or sell in bazaars! Don’t tell anyone your secret ingredient…the garlic butter and the seasoned salt! MUY DELICIOSO as beer pulutan!…Oh, yel, I forgot…if youwant zip, add a touch of fresh cracked black pepper and a tiny, tiny , tiny pinch of cayenne pepper.

    There you go. YEL! I am going to collect royalties …the beneficiary is MM’s feeding program if you make it as the PILIPIT QUEEN!!!…hahahahahahah….Thus is a SAVOURY PILIPIT

    Jun 16, 2009 | 9:10 am

  13. betty q. says:

    Naputol na naman! Yel, this is a SAVOURY PILIPIT! ,,,I don’t particularly like the sweet one coated in a sugary solution like a doughnut. Try this one, I think you will like it. I have been asked by so many bartenders how I make this savoury pilipt. I just tell them it is an ANCIENT CHINESE SECRET!

    I don’t know the moisture content ofthe flour there. Start with about a little over 1 pound adding more flour if necessary to make a manageable dough like bread dough.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 9:15 am

  14. betty q. says:

    Just a note…if you harm 1 bee, you’d better take cover while you can for that injured bee will send out a SOS only heard by their sisters!

    That is right, Kurzhaar: those scouts should be known as the POLLEN BABES instead of POLLEN JOCKS (in the Bee movie by Jerry Seinfeld!)…hahahaha

    The waggle dance also applies to the location of food soource. The scout will return to hive a give directions aided by the sun. And as the season changes, she adjusts her waggle dance per direction of sunlight. These bees are smarter than we think. Their genome sequencing was done and it is amazing what they can do and how smart the are!

    Jun 16, 2009 | 9:30 am

  15. Andrew says:

    I don’t know how you would feel if you had these right in your backyard. We had a swarm before here in Quezon City and it bit our dog who got excited having never seen a one before. Sad to say we had to fumigate due to the risk of bee stings to the kids living in the area.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 9:58 am

  16. Aji says:

    Yehey for Zoom!

    It looks scary.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 10:24 am

  17. Toping says:

    Funny, there was an Irwin Allen movie called “The Swarm” (1978):


    It scared the bejesus out of me. What was it about ’70s movies, anyway? Sharks, piranhas, earthquakes, airplanes, burning high-rises…

    Jun 16, 2009 | 10:32 am

  18. Marketman says:

    Toping, hahaha. I LOVED Jaws. I watched it maybe 15 times and could recite the dialog for the first 20 minutes from memory. And that music when the sharks came to munch, I LOVE it… hahaha.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 10:47 am

  19. Diwata08 says:

    I am glad the bees are thriving. There was a time that they became inactive and the experts said that it was because of global warming. (They said that about the frogs too). Ü

    Jun 16, 2009 | 10:50 am

  20. lyna says:

    creepy!!! i have nightmares of these kind when i was small and i used to be scared that the bees might make my head a hive! that was from one of the maids forcing me to finish my food or else…..

    Jun 16, 2009 | 11:02 am

  21. Diwata08 says:

    Just gave a shout out of your site on Facebook, MM… Hope you get more hits… Ãœ

    Jun 16, 2009 | 11:14 am

  22. bagito says:

    Grabe, those pics gave me goosebumps and not in a good way. :( I love honey and bee-related products but I’d rather stay away from ’em stingers and just buy the stuff from the store. ;)

    Jun 16, 2009 | 11:20 am

  23. Marketman says:

    Diwata, that Facebook account was set up by a reader in Cebu…

    Jun 16, 2009 | 11:41 am

  24. Marketfan says:

    haay naku MM, do a poll on what we think is your scariest post and this will be my answer. nakakakilabot ang pictures.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 11:47 am

  25. moni says:

    MM, the appearance of bees is a healthy sign that insecticides have not been used excessively in the area near your Batangas resthouse. There’s an interesting book published in Japanese, subtitled Silent Summer Without Bees, 235pp, Sangokan, Tokyo. It is written by a Japanese reporter, Syunsuke Funase, who writes on industrial pollution issues.

    Mr Funase wrote about the colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honeybees that is affecting pollination activities and how the chemical, imidacloprid, may be playing a significant role in this. The book discusses the loss of bees as a sign of disorders in ecosystems and the effects on human health attributed to neonicotinoid insecticides because of the long-residual and easy contamination of food and water.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 1:10 pm

  26. betty q. says:

    Colony Collapse Disorder is a complex problem. To date, scientists at University of Pennsylavania cannot pinpoint a single cause of this problem. There are multi-factors each one invariably playing a role such as pathogens that develop resistance to insecticides, as well as potent insecticides that affect the bees’ navigational system. The colony collapses because the bees just simply disappear…they do not RETURN to the hive which is unnatural for the beees. The bees that died inside the colony and showed signs of deformity could have been infected with a much more potent strain of another pathogen like the IPV, Israeli Paralysis Virus. Anyway, it might take years before they can pinpoint the cause and hopefully come up with a solution.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 2:12 pm

  27. Alan says:

    Hi, betty q.! In your Pilipit Recipe you said to fry them in medium heat. Since how hot the oil gets depends on may factors, such as size and kind of pan and fire strength and environmental temperature, could you specify what range the temperature of the oil should be so that the center will cook properly. I’m just excited to use my new candy thermometer i guess… hehehehhehe.

    The bees above may be a type of wandering bee, I remember watching a show about bees and they featured a bee that does not make a permanent hive but instead moves every few months. They make a hive using their own bodies. Much like some species of ant which bees are close relatives of. FYI, there are ants that sting as well and some can be very deadly. In fact, deadlier than bee stings.

    If there are many bees in your area and you are very allergic to their stings, there is a therapy available where in doctors inject you with minuscule amounts of bee venom over time and soon enough you will loose the allergy. Bee sting is, suggested by some natural health practitioners, to be effective against arthritis, if i recall correctly, or was it Rheumatism. Look it up on the net.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 3:32 pm

  28. hill roberts says:

    Hola MM, buenos dias desde Espana.
    Those photographs above do look scary and can put off a lot of people. Bees or not, I’d never give up on my daily dose of honey: honey on wheetabix, honey on cornflakes, honey on strawberries, honey on tea, honey on banana/pineapple fritters. Honey, the most organic food that’s accessible to all is so good, even my BP, which normally is quite high, has gone down these last few months. Highly recommended, especially those who are health conscious. Honey, do have some!

    Jun 16, 2009 | 3:55 pm

  29. Gener says:

    This are the type of BEES which is venomous! they are wild and much larger in sizes compare to the “pastured bees” they are actually more agressive specially when you get very near to their hive. they will not hesitate to stung anyone and its really nasty! You can harvest its honey still in the middle of summer, they already accumulated enough nectar from nearby fields. honey from this wild bees are much more better in quality than those locally found in the market, color is light gold. its very easy to fumigate it, early in the morning when there is no high wind blows, sigaan mo sa ibaba nyan with dry and green grass, wag mong hayaang umapoy! only the strong smoke will let the bees away, then you have ample time to climb and harvest its hive. once you are near the hive and some bees are around, get some honey from the hive and apply to your open skin like lotion,,they will avoid to sting you! that is the secret…

    Jun 16, 2009 | 5:04 pm

  30. denise says:

    is it me or do those look like african honeybees? (the most dangerous ones) i’m allergic to bee and wasp stings so…even with 20x zoom will not voluntarily go near that tree :D

    Jun 16, 2009 | 6:01 pm

  31. kaya says:

    MM, this gave me the creeps…. please put pictures of colorful macarons! =D

    Jun 16, 2009 | 7:29 pm

  32. noes says:

    Great, my daughter is part of of a club called “Busy Bees”. What a coincidence? Hehe.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 8:52 pm

  33. Mangaranon says:

    Apicio — yes the handbag! At first glance, it really looks like a Goyard and not bees.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 10:06 pm

  34. yel says:

    Miss Betty Q,

    Thank you so much! I tried it and It was soooo gooooddddd!!!! I will try the sweet one next time. By the way, PILIPIT KING po. Thank you so much for sharing such recipe.

    Jun 17, 2009 | 5:45 am

  35. Cecilia says:

    MM, I am happy that the bees are happy, but these are awesomely scary photos! … Will be making pinisi in a little bit when my family comes home. Thanks!

    Betty q, will be trying your pilipit recipe sometime soon. Maybe for tapas … If I halve the flour, I guess I should halve the rest of the ingredients as well? Thanks!

    Jun 17, 2009 | 7:21 am

  36. Franco says:

    I have raise bees in my back yard and swarming is quite normal especially for strong colonies, but these can be prevented through proper management. The pictures aren’t that clear but honey bees are usually yellow and/or black.
    For bee stings just rub a mixture of baking soda and water and the swelling should lessen. Also make sure the stinger or any part of it is not stuck or the swelling can continue for several days. If stung on the face usually its best to take an anti-histamine such as benadryl.

    Jun 17, 2009 | 8:30 am

  37. roelm says:

    Hi MM,
    If the bees are large, they probably belong to the subspecies Apis dorsata breviligula, according to information available on the Internet. Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_dorsata

    Jun 17, 2009 | 7:26 pm

  38. betty q. says:

    Hey PILIPIT KING! Have you tried Elephant ears? They are also called beaver tails over here and really good…this is more the sweet version. Make a bread dough or MM’s dough and let the ough rise twice. Then final proofing, take a small ball of dough and roll into an oval…3 by 5 inch. and pull it gently with the edges slightly thicker than center. Then using you fingertips, make hole impressions only on the surface and then fry. Do not burn it. It will fry really fast since it rather thin. As soon as it comes out of the fryer, dust with cinnamon sugar.

    OK…you now have two saleable items! …more royalties for MM’s feeding program…hahahahah

    Jun 18, 2009 | 2:31 am

  39. betty q. says:

    Yup, Cecilia…all ingredients cut in half if you want to make half a batch. Up above, the sweet one with a little deviation to the shape …we call over here elephant ears or Apicio’s beaver tails. It is also good!

    Jun 18, 2009 | 2:35 am

  40. yel says:

    Ahihihi! I think i might contemplate on bringing out my entrepreneurial skills. Thanks Ms. BettyQ!

    Jun 18, 2009 | 5:02 am

  41. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Wow,want to make those pilipit and siakoy..

    Those bees look scary…but having them near your farm means the place is still untouched by pesticides..they really look like a bag..or something…

    I wonder how they made the movie “The Swarm”….with all those bees…..yikes…

    Jun 18, 2009 | 8:06 am

  42. R says:

    The hairs on my face and head are standing up. These pictures will give me nightmares.

    Jun 18, 2009 | 10:18 am

  43. Blaise says:

    That looks really disgusting…

    Jun 18, 2009 | 2:04 pm

  44. atbnorge says:

    Father gave us, children, wild honey with calamansi when we had the whooping cough. It really is ambrosia!

    Jun 19, 2009 | 5:25 am

  45. Ted says:

    Betty Q, you mentioned in your pilipit recipe about adding half cup of warm “BEER”, is this in addition to the 3/4 cup of water?

    Jun 19, 2009 | 6:53 am

  46. corrine says:

    This is amazing. The last time I saw a beehive was when I was in high school which was long ago. I distinctly remember how delicious the honey was…parang tamarind. Anyway, bad thing I didn’t think of getting the beeswax…I was young and naive…what can I say?

    Jun 19, 2009 | 1:07 pm

  47. thelma says:

    i use honey in everything….with my coffee, tea with lemon juice, avocado and milk among other things! bettyq, i think that i will use your pilipit and elephant ears
    recipes. my husband and two boys will like those a lot. i can make extra for give aways….

    Jun 19, 2009 | 9:43 pm

  48. Josh says:

    Hello! I need some advice regarding bees. A colony suddenly appeared this morning at my father-in-laws house and it has been attracting too much attention in their neighborhood. The place is in Tondo and the streets are not that wide so you would not imagine everyone passing by not noticing it.

    I don’t want to drive them away but I suggested for them to be relocated. My father-in-law said to let them stay there for the meantime but is aware that they should be moved once the hive grows.

    The breed looks like the common honeybee similar to the pictures above. As of now the size of the colony is about the size of a medium papaya. I don’t know how to post videos or pictures in this site.

    My concern is safety also. There’s a baby in the house. I know that as long as you don’t disturbe them they would leave you alone but if some unscruplous passerby would suddenly shake up the colony (you can throw a stone at it easily) it might go after anyone in the house and not the attacker.

    Greatly appreciate for any more suggestions.

    Aug 2, 2009 | 4:46 pm


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