There are approximately 500 species of stingless bee around the world with majority of these species resides in the tropics and subtropics of South America, Australia, Africa and Eastern and Southern Asia. In Malaysia, there are about 33 species of stingless bee that has been documented to this day. Coined as stingless bee, the bee does possess sting that is significantly reduced, small and underdeveloped rendering them unable to sting. They can still bite to protect the hive when threatened. The stingless bees are important and has a huge ecological service as main pollinators for wild and cultivated plants. Due to their small size, they are able to burrow into smaller flowers to collect pollen and nectar. The product produced by stingless bee is not only restricted to honey, but also propolis, bee pollen and beebread.Stingless bee keeping, or better known as meliponiculture is getting more popular in Malaysia. Two stingless bee species that are being reared commercially are Heterotrigona itama and Geniotrigona thoracica. Stingless bee honey (SBH) deemed as “miracle liquid” with countless medicinal properties and considered as superfood. SBH has antimicrobial activities, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anticancer properties with less sugar content. More researches are underway to uncover the medicinal properties and benefits of SBH other than mentioned above such as anti-obesity, reduce anxiety, improve memory and improve wound healing properties.
A recent study of trehalulose was discovered in stingless bee honey in Malaysia by Dr. Norhasnida Zawawi, a senior lecturer from Department of Food Science, Faculty of Science & Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Dr. Norhasnida sampled honey from two species of stingless bees Heterotrigona itama and Geniotrigona thoracica and found between 13% to 44% of trehalulose sugar in all of the honey. Trehalulose is a natural source of rare disaccharide and with an isomer of sucrose. Trehalulose is 70% as sweet as common sugar and considered healthier than other types of sugar. In this isomer, the glucose and fructose are joined by an unusual glycosidic bond that requires three times longer to break down by our enzymes in the small intestine. This process results in a more gradual release of monosaccharides into our blood stream that does not spike the blood sugar with a low glycemic index of 32, hence making stingless bee honey ideal as sweetener by diabetic patients. The unusual glycosidic bond of the isomer also prevents bacteria in our mouth from digesting it and eventually, preventing tooth decay.
Bangi Farm Resort is elated with this discovery as we have these two species of stingless bee among seven varieties in our very yard. Among other species that inhabit our farm vicinity are Lepidotrigona terminate, Lophotrigona canifrons, Tetrigona apicalis, Tetrigona binghami and Tetragonula Minangkabau. Our beekeepers are taking extra care tending to our busy buzzers to keep them happy and healthy, and safe from threats. To avoid stressing the bees, honey extraction is only done with the interval of once a month or two months for each hive.
The natural superfood is packed and put on sale at The Loaf Kiosk at Bangi Resort Hotel. Our honey has also gone through laboratory analysis to determine its shelf life and the honey can last 12 months at room temperature. We are looking forward to the MyOrganic certification from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries as the work is underway to recognize the product of our stingless bee.
This is a close up of Heterotrigona itama hive with different features in a colony.
The top cover of the hive is opened to reveal the honey pots. The hive extends further down to brood comb, the main nest and the entrance to the hive. This method keeps the brood safe and minimize stress on the larvae-to-be.
Our beekeepers are creating an opening on top of each propolis honey pot to allow the hose to suck the honey into a collection bottle. The hives are being well taken care of and honey extraction are done every one to two months to avoid stressing out the colony.
We managed to extract about 900ml from a single H. itama hive.