Stingless Bee Keeping: Introduction & Practice | Introduction

Stingless Bee Keeping: Introduction & Practice | Introduction


1) Introduction.
2) Common species of stingless bee.
3) Morphology of stingless bee. 
4) Manuka honey vs stingless bee honey.
5) Market value.
6) Value comparisons.


Malaysia’s native stingless bee or “Kelulut” reduced their defence by biting their predator and secrete sticky resin that makes your hair stick together, generally they are harmless because they do not have stingers.

Malaysia have wonderful variety of stingless native bees, there are about 35 of stingless bees in Malaysia identified as at 1939. Efforts have been intensify to successfully extend the list to over 45 species by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) in 2014. However, the reported stingless bees are still quite unknown to most people.

Stingless bees (Hymenoptera >> Apidae >> Meliponi) can be classified into 2 genera, namely, the Melipona and the Trigona.

*Please watch the video below for further explanation of this section*

Common species of stingless bee

Common species of Malaysia: the table below shows the list of common stingless bee in Malaysia and neighboring areas that are farmed to produce honey. The references are provided based on their characteristics, behaviors, and geographical distributions. The size of stingless bees species vary from 3 mm and 10 mm.

Species nameSpecies nameSpecies name
Heterotrigona itamaHeterotrigona bakeriHeterotrigona erythrogaster
Geniotrigona thoracicaLepidotrigona terminataTetragonula fuscobalteata
Tetragonilla atripesTetragonula laevicepsLepidotrigona ventralis (Smith)
Tetrigona apicalis (Smith)Tetrigona binghami (Schwarz)Lophotrigona canifrons (Smith)
Melipona (Melikerria)Lepidotrigona doipaensisOdontotrigona haematoptera
Lepidotrigona nitidiventrisPlatytrigona hobbyi (Schwarz)Tetragonilla collina (Smith)
Sundatrigona moorei (Schwarz)Tetragonula minangkabauTetragonilla atripes (Smith)
Tetragonula testaceitarsisTetrigona melanoleucaTetragonilla collina (Smith)
Tetragonilla fuscibasis (Cockerell)Tetragonilla rufibasalis (Cockerell)Tetragonula aff. pagdeni (Schwarz)
Tetragonula geissleri (Cockerell)Tetragonula melanocephala (Gribodo)Tetragonula sarawakensis (Schwarz)
Tetragonula zucchii (Sakagami)Homotrigona fimbriata

*Please watch the video below for further explanation of this section*

Morphology of stingless bee.

Morphology of Stingless Bees: The external morphology of Stingless bees is in three body parts: Head,  Thorax and Abdomen. Important features present on the head include the  antennae, compound and simple eyes (occelli) and mandibles. Two pairs of wings and three pairs of legs are attached to the thorax. The hind legs of most stingless bee workers have a modified structure, corbicular (pollen basket) for collecting and transporting pollen and other materials. The third body part is the abdomen which has a non-functional ‘stinging’ apparatus. It must be noted that most parts of the external body of stingless bees are covered with hairs.

*Please watch the video below for further explanation of this section*

Manuka honey vs stingless bee honey

Honey TypeProperty
Manuka-Antibacterial with negligible peroxide effect.  
-Contain methylglyoxal that fight bacteria.
Stingless Bee-Resin Bee: they collect propolis to make propolis pots.  
-Propolis properties: full of flavonoids and phenolic compounds (acids/antioxidants). Much more sour.  
-Flavonoids: Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer properties. Internal healing. A study proven that stingless bee honey can eliminate 31 out of 32 dangerous bacteria.  
-Flavonoids are in a lot of our vegetables, wilds berries/fruits/in all the super foods.  
-Phenolic compounds have bioactive properties to them and they have health protective benefits.  
-Manuka honey if taken 200 ml every day, can cause diabetes. Stingless bees honey contained tetrahulose. trehalulose was a rare sugar with a low glycaemic index (GI), and not found as a major component in any other foods (July 2020).

*Please watch the video below for further explanation of this section*

Market value

Market value: Stingless bees are specialized bees that gather pollen to feed their youngs and also play an important role in the ecology, economy, and horticulture. Many natives (such as Cengal, Merbau, and Meranti) and cultivated tropical plants are dependent on stingless bees pollination where they have contributed forestry industry valued over RM 4 bil. Furthermore they are important pollinators of crops such as fruits, vegetable, fibre/forage crops, and garden flowers with annual contribution to the agriculture industry of RM 66mil . The diminutive size of the stingless bees also ensure pollination of small flowers.

*Please watch the video below for further explanation of this section*

Value comparisons

-The market of stingless bee is still far away from its full potential. However, before starting your own stingless bees business/farms, several issues must be understand like the sustainable methods of stingless bee farming, the struggles of combating the problems of adulteration, and how to increase the customers’ acceptance level of stingless bees honey especially at the international level.

-Stingless bees is an infant industry in Malaysia, many had jump on the bandwagon to join because of the promise of lucrative outcome which quickly disappeared because of the fallacy of their ideas about profit making. Two standards of MS 2683:2017 and MS 2679:2017 for Kelulut (Stingless bee) honey- Specification and “Amalan Pertanian Baik (APB)- Pemeliharaan lebah (tribus Apini) dan kelulut (tribus Meliponini)”, respectively, were in place. These standards may be regarded as highly methodological where the current generation of stingless bees farmers are commonly focused more to practical aspects which do not compromise their lifestyles. Perhaps, the younger potential stingless bee farmers must be encouraged to join and they seemed to be the only one who truly cared about upholding the balance between profit and sustainability, no matter what the cost. We can learn that stingless bees can be a teaching tools in schools and moving the topics towards building a new generating who will preserve the population of stingless bees.

*Please watch the video below for further explanation of this section*

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