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Bees Flourish on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

May 6, 2011

Surprisingly today, we slept  until about 11am.  And, I say “surprisingly” because we’re usually up by 6am and because our bed at the Noble House is as hard as concrete.  However, you can never underestimate pure exhaustion…something that occurs in the boiling, humid, heat after countless hours of travel via train, bus, bus, boat, and bus again.  It was a long and arduous journey to get from Sapa to Cat Ba Island and it took Matt and I a little over 16 hours to do it.  Pretty good, considering there are no road rules, the trains are slow and rickety, and the boats top speed is no more than 5mph.

As fully refreshed as a couple of Canadians can be in the muggy heat of Vietnam we decided to spend the afternoon exploring some of the local sites.  We hired a car, driver, and an English-speaking guide to take us for a tour of the Hospital Cave.  Built during the American War between 1963-1965 it was used to provide safe accommodations for the northern Vietnamese soldiers and with operating facilities and a doctor on staff,  wounded soldiers could get the care they needed.  It was an interesting visit and clearly demonstrated how resourceful the Vietnamese were during the war.

On the way back from Hospital Cave our driver took us to the local apiary, located across from the entrance to the Cat Ba National Park.  The apiary owner welcomed us for a tour of his property and operation.  He had thousands of bee hives scattered throughout his compound. 

Situated in the middle of a lychee grove these bees have an abundance of food to feast on and seem to be thriving.  The lush jungle appears to be an excellent place for an apiary with wild flowers and fruit trees providing them a never-ending supply of food. 

Even along the road side it is clear that bees are flourishing in the jungles here because every 10 feet you can spot a bee’s nest hanging from the trees.

The honey collected at this apiary was a light golden colour and our driver assured us that it was the best on the island.  I suggested to Matt that we purchase a bottle to eat along the way but better judgement prevailed and I eventually concluded that I didn’t want to risk a sweet sticky mess on our already dwindling pile of clean clothes.  Our driver bought two bottles and we left this peaceful part of the jungle behind comforted in knowing there are bee keepers in the remotest parts of the world caring for the bees of the planet.

We intend to write more about bees, mono honey, and the role they play in our eco-system but that will have to wait until our journey in Vietnam is over.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. sylvia permalink
    May 6, 2011 11:19 am

    That was very educational! Love it!

  2. Turns permalink
    May 7, 2011 2:55 am

    Long time reader, first time commenter…

    Wow Turnbulls! You’re having some amazing adventures. I just read all the blog posts at once – the photos are amazing. Can’t wait to hear your stories when you get back.

    (p.s. – Whaddaya mean you didn’t buy any honey? You always buy the honey…)

    • May 7, 2011 9:08 am

      Good to hear from you. There is never any good excuse for not buying honey…but here goes ~ the heat is wearing Matts thin little frame out…he said he just couldn’t carry it…too heavy! Do you think that is a good excuse!?! I don’t!!

  3. Mary Ellen permalink
    June 2, 2011 6:21 pm

    First time visiting your site. What an awesome adventure in Vietnam. Curious if you did a taste test of the honey.

    • June 2, 2011 9:20 pm

      Although, we didn’t bring any back from the apiary we visited, we did purchase some from the mountain ranges in Sapa. It has a unique floral flavour…unlike the wild flower honeys we’ve collected from Spain and Scotland. I really like it and in fact wished we’d purchased more (it’s all about weight on a trip like that).

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