Tella ‘Honeyman’ Loie, one of PNG’s honey experts talks about about his life & new business

"I also would like to see honey production increase by 25 tons annually."

Tella Loie now runs a business  in Goroka that makes beehives 

My name is Tella Tanguan Loie. I come from Kenimaro village in the Lower Bena LLG in the Unggai Bena district of the Eastern Highlands Province.

I was born in 1959, into a family of nine – four boys and five girls.

I was named after one of the early pioneer “Kiaps”, Jim Taylor.

As a child I grew up in the village, doing anything a child would want to do like playing marbles, hide & seek, hunting, swimming and other household chores. I also helped my mother with gardening, cooking, washing dishes and collecting firewood etc.

It was required of me to help my father with making fences and building houses.

If I misbehaved I would go without food, as punishment.

I must have been about six years old when I started going to school at Ifiufa Primary School in 1966, situated 15 kilometers South of Goroka along the Okuk Highway. I did my prep, grades 1, 2 & 3 there.

I later transferred to Siokiei Primary School in 1969 to do grades 4, 5 & 6. Siokiei Primary School is situated six kilometers East of Goroka in the Lower Bena LLG in the Unggai Bena district.

I completed my standard 6 in 1972. I got all “Credits” in all the subjects but very interestingly and unfortunately I wasn’t given a space at Goroka High School. The reason was that “girls were to be given priority over boys”.

I recall as a school kid, when we came late the Headmaster would wait for us and all late comers were to see him at the office. He would smack our bums with a cane. Once I knew I was late, I would get newspapers and stuff them in my shorts, so getting hit wouldn’t hurt.

I was one of the “drop outs” from 1972. So like any child, I went back to live a normal village life.

The school year began the following year in 1973.

In February, 6 weeks into the school year the Headmaster, Mr. Masio an expatriate, sent a message through one of the village kids that I was to come and see him first thing on Monday. I had a sleepless night that Sunday night wondering why he sent for me….!

I got into my best clothes – a short & a shirt. No shoes – and walked to the school. The Headmaster asked me if “I knew where Goroka High School was” and I replied “No”. He gave me direction and with my dad beside me, we caught a PMV and went into town.

To cut the story short, I went to the principal’s office and told him “I was a new student”. He took me to a class and there I was for the next two years, 1973-74.

I applied to continue my schooling at Goroka Technical College, I applied to learn how to be a mechanic as my core subject. However, I was told to take up building. I reluctantly did so.

In May 1978, I travelled up to Highlands Agricultural College (HAC) in Mt. Hagen, WHP to do a two year course. I graduated with a Certificate in Tropical Agriculture in March 1980.

I was selected to attend a one year Apiculture (Beekeeping) Course at Telford Rural Polytechnic in New Zealand. I graduated with a Certificate in Apiculture.

I later attended various short courses in Israel and Malaysia where I studied how to breed queen bees and beekeeping.

After graduating from Goroka Tech. College in 1976 I went back to the village. The following year, 1977, I went to the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) office and enquired for a job. I was given a job as “Rural Development Recruit” (RDR).

I was attached with the Apiary (Beekeeping) Research Center (ARC) in Goroka. I stayed on for a year and a half and was accepted to attend Highlands Agriculture College (HAC) in May 1978.

After two years, I graduated with a Certificate in Tropical Agriculture. Before the graduation we were given ‘Application Forms to fill, what we wanted to do and in what provinces’. I applied for Goroka (with DPI) and Sepik, with the Gavien Rubber Resettlement Scheme. I was accepted by the two provinces but I chose Goroka.

I have been with DPI, specializing in Beekeeping until my resignation in 2016. So I have been a Public servant for the last 38 years.

During the 38 years of being a public servant, it had been very challenging for me, especially working with the Beekeeping section. It was a new project and someone had to drive it,

I had a dream, a vision and that was to increase and expand to other provinces and become self-reliant. We had to be self-sufficient in honey production. PNG needed to produce more honey, to supply its local market, stop the importation of honey and try to export. We also must manufacture our own Basic Beekeeping Equipments, which was imported from New Zealand.

After graduating from HAC I came back to Goroka and worked as a Rural Development Technician (RDT), up from RDR. I was give more responsibility, to see that beekeeping expanded into the eight districts of the province, to write-up my own budget estimates for the project and to manage the sections resources.

I resigned in 2016.

I am now in the village, a subsistence farmer. I have a small plot of land where vegetables are grown for home consumption.

On the piece of land where the house stands, I have the following; oranges of different varieties, ducks, both meat & village chickens, looking after fish in a tank, have a few herds of cattle.

My wife has her own flowers which she grows and tends them.

We also have a training center we call “Integrated Didiman Training Center (IDTC)”. Beekeepers and government officers come attend beekeeping trainings I and DAL staff conduct. The training goes on for a week. They are taught both theory and practical lessons.

The home is sometimes converted into a dormitory where trainees come for a week and sleep.

Now I am living a normal life, away from the clocking in at 7.45am and finishing at 4.06pm. It’s more like being my own boss, work when I feel like working, sleep through when I want, basically do whatever at my own pace.

I am now into manufacturing basic beekeeping equipments. I have organized and registered a Small Business and is known as “PNG Beekeeping Supplies”. It is 100% locally owned. It uses to import all beekeeping equipments (boxes, frames, wax foundations, all protective gears, queen breeding materials and honey processing & packaging equipments.

I have two fulltime assistants. We supply all beekeeping equipments throughout the country. We are the only company in the country.

I hope  to see this company grow and expand to other major beekeeping centers in the country. I would love to see more people getting involved in beekeeping.

I am sure PNG Beekeeping Supplies will be a major player in the development of this niche industry by way of manufacturing in mass basic equipments. I would like to see potential beekeepers given bee equipments on loan. They can repay during the honey season, whether it be cash, in the form of honey or brood & bees.

I also would like to see the number of hives increasing to 1,000 annually and to see honey production increase by 25 tons annually.

1 comment on “Tella ‘Honeyman’ Loie, one of PNG’s honey experts talks about about his life & new business

  1. Do they also have beeswax as a by-product? Would be interested.


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