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Keeping Honey Bees for Survival – The Stingless Honey Bee

Keeping Honey Bees for Survival

Part 4

The Stingless Honey Bee

 

The social stingless bee! Safe for kids and fascinating to watch, these bees produce a delicious tangy honey and are fabulous for Green house gardens. Due to the fact they are only found in the tropics or very hot climates they will only do will in the native areas or in warm greenhouses. There are around 14 species are stingless bees. They have a queen, drones and many sterile worker bees, just like colonies of commercial honey bees do. However, unlike commercial honey bees, these bees do not sting. The number of bees in a stingless bee colony can range from a few dozen to over 100,000. Many species of stingless bees are small, black bees only 4-6 mm long, whilst commercial honey bees are about 12mm long and are yellow brown, or dark brown to black in color. However, the largest stingless bee species, Melipona falvipennis, has workers slightly larger than a commercial honey bee worker.

This is a Trigona carbonaria stingless bee.

This is a Trigona carbonaria stingless bee.

 

The bees store pollen and honey in large egg-shaped pots made of beeswax, typically mixed with various types of plant resin (sometimes called “propolis”). These pots are often arranged around a central set of horizontal brood combs, where the larval bees are housed. When the young worker bees emerge from their cells, they tend to remain inside the hive, performing different jobs. As workers age, they become guards or foragers. Unlike the larvae of honey bees, meliponine larvae are not fed directly. The pollen and nectar are placed in a cell, an egg is laid, and the cell is sealed until the adult bee emerges after pupation

The nest of stingless bees found in India

The nest of stingless bees found in India

 

Stingless bees make small quantities of a delicious aromatic honey that is harvested by beekeepers in many parts of the world. Unlike a hive of commercial honey bees, which can produce 75 kilograms of honey a year, a hive of Australian stingless bees produces less than one kilogram. The stingless bee is mostly kept as a backyard pet or pollinator for greenhouse crops. The earliest records of keeping stingless bees come from the Maya people on the Yacatan Peninsula in Mexico. Their methods used to keep stingless bees today are essentially the same as those used over 2,000 years ago. “Australian Stingless Bees” by John Klumpp is a valuable handbook for anyone interested in keeping the little bees. I highly recommend reading it for any one that would like to have the little girls.

These bees perform the important role of pollinating native plants, crops and garden flowers during their search for nectar and pollen. Methods have been developed for keeping these species in small wooden boxes, the size of a shoe box, and they can be used to pollinate crops of macadamias, strawberries, lychees, watermelons, mangoes and may greenhouse crops.

Now you have your beehive, read your book, got bees and maybe have gotten stingless bees for your greenhouse. Bees do so many things and keep surprising us as humans.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at ABEEFriendlyCompany@gmail.com

Or message me on Face Book at http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Bee-Friendly-Company-Inc/147801815239144?ref=hl#!/pages/A-Bee-Friendly-Company-Inc/147801815239144.

I would enjoy reading about your experiences and looking at photos of your work. Like I said I am a survivalist and love the outdoors and keeping bees will get you outdoors more. Like gardening, the work you put in makes great rewords.

*Michael Jordan is the founder of A BEE Friendly Company (ABFC), based in Cheyenne, Wyo. Jordan often organizes courses at local clubs, fairs and schools with the hopes of renewing interest in the lost art. His goal is to teach the youth of the world the ease of beekeeping and help others see the how bees can save the world.*

About Michael Jordan

Thank you for reading. I am Michael Jordan, “The BEE Whisperer,” Owner of A BEE Friendly Company, INC. located in Wyoming. I have been teaching the art of bees and beekeeping for over 15 years. I have studied bees in my many travels over the world. Bees and Beekeepers are different all over the world. The style of beekeeping used is up to you. There are over 20,000 types of bees and 1500 of them are a type of honey bee. If you work with bees I would love to hear from you. If you want me to come and teach a group or class for you, let me know, I love to talk bees, I travel all over the world doing so. You can reach me at abeefriendlycompany@gmail.com. Get me there and we can all bee friendly.

6 comments

  1. Buckweed Pierre

    Thanks for thinking of me Melanie I have heard of this bee it lives a little further north of here where the climate is a little hotter and presumably doesn’t get as cold in the winter. Would certainly give these girls a try very interesting species, I mainly concentrate on the locally captured bees to begin with but would love to see these ones in action sadly not much in the way of honey producers but interesting to observe

  2. So, are these species something that can be kept in the US? With all the invasive species regulations these days, I would have to imagine the USDA would not be keen on people importing bees, stingless or not, from Australia. I would think a person could keep these fairly easily in the Houston area.

    • There are none in the USA. I am working with a man from India to bring some in to do green house gardening. Think of aquaponics with bee pollination. The USDA does not mind you binging in domesticated species in the USA. Look at the rich that bring in African Stags to hunt.

      I worked with a man from New Zealand that grows 30% of all the strawberries for China. They do it all with hydroponics in doors. Wanted to produce more. we adding stingless bees. his workers can work all day with no problems now. 20% production increase. You want to talk permaculture….get me there and we cam work on how to pollenate your reseeding crops and more food production.

  3. Hi Michael,

    I have three hives of stingless bees here in Northern Tanzania. Works very well without much maintenance and very good for our (small) coffee, passion, mango and avocado supplies.
    I made my first bee wax last week and we’re waiting for the long rains to stop to give it a try.

    We just finished a (small – again) green house and was thinking of attaching a bee hive in such a way that you can let them in the green house or otherwise outside if not much is flowering inside.

    We might move to America in the near future and I am looking for ways to get a colony with us. If anyone knows how and what the regulations are, please comment…

    Best,
    Jan

  4. I do>LOL
    I have gotten the little bees to the university of Arizona for study.
    you have to contact the department of USA AG for inspections, but can be done. The use of the bees in green houses is what I want to do to make permaculture seed companies.

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