How a beekeeper harvests honey in urban Hong Kong

May 03, 2021

Kenneth Tse has dedicated his retirement to caring for 200 beehives in Hong Kong.

In densely urbanized Hong Kong, it’s hard to imagine bee farms, let alone bees themselves, surviving, but a few dot the city’s northern edges.

Kenneth Tse has been running the Butterfly Valley farm since he entered retirement six years ago. His grandfather was also a beekeeper.

Tse estimates that there are around 100 beekeepers in Hong Kong, but most are family initiatives, meaning the bees are raised on a small scale in people’s homes. While Tse manages a farm of 200 beehives, most others raise around 10 at home as a hobby.

Kenneth Tse holds up a beehive at his farm in Hong Kong.
Kenneth Tse holds up a beehive at his farm in Hong Kong. / Photo: K. Y. Cheng/SCMP

The bees start reproducing in September, and he collects honey starting in December. Peak season for honey production usually runs from March to April. One hive contains up to 10,000 bees and can produce one cup of honey.

Tse’s family used to raise wild bees caught from the mountains. He’s been doing this since age 14. Back then, his father would guide the bees into a bamboo basket and bring them home.

“We’d find beehives in between rocks and we’d smash them,” Tse says, “then use our hands to cut the wax off.”

(Read more: How salt is made at Hong Kong’s last salt flat)

Urbanization has limited the amount of space to start farms. Coupled with a lack of subsidies for bee farms, beekeeping in Hong Kong can be a difficult pursuit.

But Tse has managed to make do, selling enough honey to make the farm self-sustainable.

Honey sold at Tse’s farm.
Honey sold at Tse’s farm. / Photo: K. Y. Cheng/SCMP

A lover of the bee colony and its organization, Tse hopes to spread awareness of their importance to the ecosystem through his work.

“I hope that people in Hong Kong will get into beekeeping, understand bees, and understand honey,” Tse says.

Hong Kong


Producer and Videographer: Shanshan Kao

Script: Tiffany Ip

Editor: Yadin Affandi

Mastering: Victor Peña