Monday, March 11, 2013

Honey Production with Stingless Native Bees

Stingless native bees are primitive species that only produce small amounts of honey. It is only in warm areas of Australia, such as in Queensland and northern NSW, that they can produce more honey than they need for their own survival. Harvesting honey from a nest in a cooler area could weaken or even kill the nest.

In warm areas of Australia, however, honey production is possible with these bees. Hives also can be kept successfully in boxes in these areas and propagated by splitting. Special methods are being developed to harvest moderate amounts of honey from stingless bees in these areas without harming the bees.

xxx A cluster of honey pots from the Austroplebeia australis stingless bee species.

Stingless bee honey is called Sugarbag and was prized by Aboriginals who collected it from wild nests. Stingless bees store their flavoursome honey in clusters of small resin pots near the extremities of the nest. The resin adds a wide variety of tangy flavours to the honey, such as lemon or eualyptus. It is delicious drizzled over ice cream! However, Sugarbag honey is a rare product to be savoured because each hive only produces about 1 kg of honey per year.

For honey production, the bees need to be kept in an especially-designed box so that the honey stores can be reached without damaging the rest of the nest structure. Box designs for honey production provide a separate compartment for the honey stores so that honey pots can be removed without spilling honey into other areas of the nest.


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