The countryside that encloses Medellin is home to a variety of biodiverse life and rich agriculture. The Antioquian farms that perch in these mountains help nurture the local environment and protect its inhabitants.
I had the pleasure of visiting one of these Colombian farms and spending the day feeding bees.
If you’re looking for a unique day trip away from the tourist traps of Medellin, this is the perfect experience for you!
The ‘Abejas Del Bosque’ Story
Nestled in the highlands outside Medellin, and 2000 meters above sea level, sits the tiny town of Palmitas. It’s home to Finca El Moral and the Abejas Del Bosque farm.
Owners Vitto and Margarita cultivate its land, growing coffee, fruits, and herbs. The farm has existed for over 100 years and has been passed down through Vitto’s family.
After meeting at university, the young couple decided to trade in the city life for rolling hills, breathtaking nature, and Bees!
With veterinary degrees and certificates in beekeeping and agroecology, Vitto and Margarita are skilled experts in beekeeping.
They offer those interested in ecology and nature a day on the farm, learning about the importance of bees and how to care for them.
But most excitingly, you get to interact with the bees and feed them yourself!
The tour will start at 8 am and last a few hours, depending on the weather. Talks can be given in both English and Spanish, as both hosts are bilingual.
Why Bees are so Important
Bees are the life force of the plant. I knew bees were important before the workshop, but I wasn’t sure of the details.
Margarita explains, in incredible depth, how bees help pollinate over 80% of the world’s flowering plants.
They are responsible for a crucial amount of the globe’s crop production; if the bee population were to drop, even if only by a little bit, there would be a drastic decrease in food.
Are Bees in Danger?
The short answer is yes. This is mainly due to disruptive human activity, like industrialized agricultural practices, and the use of harmful pesticides that deplete their food sources.
The expansion of cities and deforestation have also presented one of the biggest threats to bee populations; habitat loss. This is why initiatives like ‘Abejas Del Bosque’ are so important.
Bee farms like this provide safe and healthy homes for colonies to thrive in.
In addition, the farm is within a protected forestland, meaning the flowers from which the bees collect pollen are free of deadly pesticides.
What to Expect from the Experience
The ‘Abejas Del Bosque’ family is made up of three colonies of Apis mellifera or western honey bees. There can be up to 100,000 bees living in a hive at one time.
Margarita and Vinno use a sugary mixture of essential vitamins to feed the bees.
This is one of the essential parts of beekeeping. If the bees aren’t fed frequently, whole colonies will desert the hive. You help Margarita perform the crucial job of feeding the bees!
After Margarita and Vitto welcome you into the Finca, they’ll show you around the farm, pointing out the coffee plantation and special herbs, and offer you a taste of some Colombian fruits.
Once you’ve had a cup of tea or coffee, it’ll be time to change! Safety gear is the most crucial aspect of the experience.
You’ll be given a beige suit, thick gloves, boots, and the netted face cover, to shield every inch of your body. Not only is it essential that you don’t get hurt from a sting, but it’s necessary to ensure the bees can’t sting you, as they will die instantly.
Journey to the Hive
The bee farm is a short distance from Finca el Moral, so you will hop in a tuk-tuk with Margarita for a five-minute drive to the beginning of a trail.
This ancient road is a part of the community’s cultural patrimony. It was originally formed by the indigenous groups of the mountains centuries ago.
Thousands of feet high, overlooking the foothills of the valleys below, you weave between the forest trees and skim over waterfall streams.
During this short journey, it’s essential to keep the fire of the smoker alive. The smoker uses coffee beans and scraps of paper as fuel. It breaks up communication between the bees and keeps them calm.
It will be your job to smoke the hive while Margarita opens the enclosures and feeds the bees.
Interacting with the Bees
You may have to work fast once you arrive at the hives if it’s raining. If the bee’s wings get wet, they can’t fly.
The guide will take out a frame so you can see the bees up close! They will also point out the queen bee and the eggs.
It can be a little nerve-racking at first, especially when you feel the bees buzzing all over your body. But it’s vital not to let the panic seep in and be attentive to Margarita’s instructions.
At one point, I felt like there were too many bees on me, and I got a bit scared. Margarita assured me it’s a completely normal reaction, even though there is no way of the bees stinging you through your suit.
Visiting the Waterfall
Once the adrenaline has settled, you will head down to the nearby waterfall to decompress and give thanks for such a brilliant day.
It’s the perfect end to a beautiful and unique experience. Margarita took a fallen leaf from the ground and gave thanks for our meeting, the bees, and mother nature. Then, as the leaf drifted down the stream of the waterfall, she took a sip of the mountain water.
Then it was my turn. I rinsed my face within the stream. With the buzz from the bee experience still pulsing through me, I thought about how delicate and complex this world is and how privileged I am to see the beating heart of our ecosystem in action.
Make sure you wear long sleeves and long pants under your protective suit. The underneath clothing will add an additional layer of protection.
It’s very muddy. Everywhere. You’ll be given waterproof boots for the activity. However, you’ll also need to wear some shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty for walking around the Finca. My sneakers just weren’t cutting it.
Bring cash. You may want to buy some things in the town or at the Finca.
The tour is not recommended for those who have a fear of bees or are prone to allergic reactions.
How to get There?
The experience takes place in Palmitas town, 45 minutes outside of Medellin. There are three options for getting there. Once you book the activity, the hosts will give you the full address.
Upon request, the company can arrange return transport for an additional $100,000 COP.
A Bus from terminal de Norte to Palmitas, and then a taxi to the Finca.
An Uber or rideshare directly to the Finca, around $50,000 COP one way.
How to Support Abejas Del Bosque
Not only are Margarita and Vitto on a vital mission to save the bees, but they’re sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world. I always try to support independent local businesses while traveling; you can do the same in the below ways!
Purchase some natural honey-based products at Mercados Campesinos. The market is held in Medellin; you can find Margarita there every last Sunday of the month.
Spend a Day Feeding the Bees
Margarita and Vitto are incredibly genuine and kind people. Their passion for the environment and preserving nature is infectious. The day with the bees was honestly one of the best times I’ve had in Colombia. I highly recommend Abejas Del Bosque if you want a unique and non-touristy activity in Medellin.
Looking for more fun activities in Medellin? Subscribe to our Newsletter and access our free Medellin traveler guide + receive 15% off for future bookings with our hotels and rentals!