Hong Kong's Buzzing Countryside
One of the reasons that Janice, Anne and I started capsule48 was that increasingly around us we could see inspiring individuals and indeed, many of our own peers, breaking away from the many moulds and conventions that our mothers and fathers had set before us as precedent.
We wanted to share and explore their stories because while there will always be certain expectations and preferences in Asian societies for professions which are the most financially secure, cracks are starting to show, and our staid but wonderful little city of Hong Kong is all the better for it.
For our inaugural episode we met up with Alamby and set out for an area called Tuen Mun on the outskirts of Hong Kong, where we had arranged to meet with Tse Tai-hing, a passionate beekeeper and the founder of ForMe Honey.
Tai-hing has been running a successful advertising agency for more than 20 years in the heart of Hong Kong, but he and his wife are from the countryside and often return on the weekends to go hiking and camping.
For years they had discussed what to do with his wife's old family home which had been kept tidy but largely unused, and it wasn't until 2014 that they decided to raise bees after meeting an old apiarist from a nearby village who was eager to spread his knowledge.
While Tai-hing and his family do sell their honey commercially, the yields are inconsistent and vary largely year-by-year. Beekeeping on such a micro-scale like this remains labour intensive and difficult, especially as the family take care of all the bees themselves. The hives need regular maintenance, wasps and hornets are a constant danger, and then there's the perennial threat of pollutants and chemicals. In many ways it's more of a hobby for Tai-hing and his family—a way to stay connected with their home and land.
When most people think of Hong Kong they probably can't imagine that the majority of the city is actually composed of protected park land and wilderness. While bees and apiaries aren't necessarily rare, neither are they commonplace. The majority of people who run them are passionate caretakers rather than keen businessmen, since supermarkets here ship in both premium and mass-market honey from around the world, keeping the demand for local honey a niche curiosity.
Still, there's something oddly therapeutic about visiting a beehive and simply seeing a whole colony at work. Considering how it's possible for one to eat honey for decades without ever actually seeing a single bee, the whole process is remarkable to see up close—although if we weren't encased in our protective suits like the Michelin Man, as Alamby put it, I imagine the experience would have been anything but calming.