Fascinating Fact About Stingless Bees
Depending on where you are living or where you have been, you may or may not have heard of stingless bees. If you have never left North America, you may never have seen or heard of them. The reason is that we don’t have them here. They are only found in a few locations around the world.
Stingless bees are part of a large group of bees that comprise of the tribe Meliponini and are in the Apidae family. They are closely related to the common honeybees, bumblebees, orchid bees, and carpenter bees we know here in North America.
Their name is a little bit misleading because some of the species can, in fact, sting you. The majority, though, are incapable of stinging.
I, Matthew Davies, want to share with you some surprising facts about these bees. I hope you will join me on this journey. Stingless bees are some of the most amazing bees in the world and have so much to offer the bee community.
Stingless bees can only be found in tropical climates. There are over 500 species of these majestic animals. If you are looking to lay eyes on them, you can travel to Central or South America, Africa, South East Asia, or Australia. The reason they live there is that it is warm almost all year round. The stingless bees that live in these climates are very often active all year.
Just like other bees, stingless bees have hives. How they hive is vastly different than their North American counterparts, though. Stingless bees make their hives in rocks, tree branches, and hollow trunks. Some have even been encountered in storage drums, water meters, trash cans, and inside walls of houses. When attempting to keep these bees, it is recommended that you transfer the bees to your hive using their natural hive. That is, if you find them in a tree, make every attempt to cut that portion of the tree and transfer it into a wooden box. Doing this will make it much easier to control the bees and harvest their honey.
The way these bees store their honey is quite different than other bees as well. We are all used to the hexagonal honeycombs here in the United States. Stingless bees store their honey in large egg-shaped pots made of beeswax. It is also commonly mixed with various resins made from plants. In the bee community, we call this propolis.
Unlike honeybees, stingless bees operate on a caste system when it comes to hierarchy. Female honeybees can become worker bees depending on what food they receive in the larvae stage. Queen bees will be fed royal jelly if they are destined to be a queen. Other bees are only fed pollen. Stingless bees determine their queen based on how much pollen they have consumed.
While stingless bees are mostly harmless to humans, I feel the need to remind you some varieties will sting you. The difference is, they do not have a venom that will cause those allergic to bees to react.
It is important to note that these bees are not kept for their honey. It is not that the honey is terrible; it is merely that they do not produce as much as honeybees. The reason that most beekeepers will keep stingless bees is to preserve the species. As humans expand their habitation, there are more and more locations succumbing to the growth. Therefore, beekeepers who wish to protect the species will naturally want to retain these bees for pollination. There has been an increasing number of beekeepers doing their part to ensure their survival. If you are one of those beekeepers, make sure you are not moving them too far from their original location. Read my blog on how to move your bees properly.
As I stated above, stingless bees do not produce a large amount of honey. Therefore, when you do decide to harvest honey from their hives, you should do so responsibly. You want to make sure there is enough honey for the colony to continue living while enjoying the fruits of their labor.
That being said, beekeepers are looking at several different ways to increase production. Stingless bees seem to put little effort into making honey. They only make enough to survive. That being said, when some honey is removed from their hives, they will replace it as quickly as possible. It all comes down to a balance of how much they can produce without overworking themselves and how much we can take from them.
Commercially, honeybees can produce as much as 75 kilograms of honey annually. Stingless bees are only able to produce 1 kilogram. If you get the chance to try stingless bee honey, you will be quite amazed at the taste. It is a mix of sweet and sour with just a hint of lemon. The taste of their honey comes from the plant resin they pack in their storage pots.
Stingless bees are a great bee to have in your hive collection and there is increasing evidence to show they are migrating north each year. I, Matthew Davies, hope that at some point in my life, I will have the pleasure of owning a brood of these delightful creatures. I hope you have found this article beneficial and informative. I work at getting you articles that matter to the bee community and those of us choosing to live off the grid. Keeping bees is a great way to have a sweetener to add to all of your recipes. It is a natural sugar that the body can break down quite quickly. Remember, when you are using honey in your recipes, you will use the same volume in honey that you would use in sugar. In other words, if you would use a cup of sugar to make your bread, you can substitute a cup of honey. I believe you will find that food sweetened by honey will taste much better than sugar-sweetened foods as well.