Now Comes The Stingless Bee

Now Comes The Stingless Bee
The Stingless Bee collects a lot of pollen.
Now Comes The Stingless Bee
A Stingless Bee colony.

There is a small native bee that is little known but which has a number of  beneficial uses that you might as well be familiar with. This is the so-called stingless bee, known in science as Trigona biroi.

Locally, it is called Lukot and it could be found in the wild. But this has been domesticated by a few bee enthusiasts not exactly for their honey because it produces much less honey than the Italian bees which are grown commercially for their honey worldwide. The stingless bee is also cultured for a few other things.
 
One of the few who are raising Trigona biroi is the Milea Bee Farm in San Jose, Batangas, owned by Rico and Edilee Omoyon. They are raising both the Italian bee (Apis mellifera) and the stingless bee.
 
Edilee explains that if a hive of the Italian bee can produce 30 kilos, a similar hive of the stingless bee may just give about300-500 grams. That’s how scanty is the honey that the stingless kind produces. But then Edilee hastens to add that the stingless bee honey is the most expensive because it is claimed to have prized healing properties. It hastens the healing of wounds and skin problems. It is the honey that is given to people suffering from allergic rhinitis. One hundred grams of stingless bee honey is now sold at P250 whereas 500 grams of Italian bee honey is selling at P395. That means only P79 per 100 grams.

Edilee also adds that raising the stingless bee is very economical. It is practically free of pests and diseases, unlike the Italian honeybee that has to be protected from mites and other pests and diseases.
 
Also the stingless bee requires simple bee hives. In fact they will colonize a box without any frames that are required by the Italian bee. The stingless bee can colonize a cavity in a tree stump. Even an old discarded guitar could be made as home for the stingless bees.
 
While the stingless bees don’t produce a lot of honey, they gather a lot of pollen which can be found piled in a portion of their colony inside the box. In the case of bee pollen gathered by the Italian bees, it is retrieved by putting a trap at the entrance of the colony.
 
Bee pollen is considered an energy food and is sold in natural wellness stores. Edilee says that one colony of stingless bees can produce about a kilo of bee pollen in one season. Usually, the Omoyons harvest their bee pollen each May. And they can get about 60 to 100 kilos from their 100 stingless bee colonies.
 
And how much is that worth? Edilee said that a pack of 60 grams is being retailed at P395. You divide 1,000 grams (one kilo) by 60 and you get 16.6. Multiply that by P395 and you get P6,583.33. That’s the retail value of one kilo of bee pollen.
 
Another very important product from stingless bees is propolis. This is the material that the bees gather from resins of trees and other plants which they use in building their honeycomb for rearing their young and other constructions they do in their colony.
 
The propolis is prized for its medicinal attributes. One product that the Milea Bath and Body Wellness is producing is propolis throat spray. This is claimed to heal mouth sores (singaw), sore throat and even bad breath.
 
The sore throat spray is now being sold locally at P25 per 10 ml spray. It is also being exported to Indonesia.
The propolis from the stingless bee is even more expensive than the bee pollen, according to Edilee. And each hive can give about a kilo of propolis in one season. The propolis can be processed into various wellness products, including propolis soap.
Now Comes The Stingless Bee
Edilee Omoyon and her natural food and wellness products.
Now Comes The Stingless Bee
Photo was taken at the Agri-Kapihan last July 27, 2013 where Rico Omoyon (second from right lectured on bee culture. Also in photo from left; Mario Rabang, Dr. Perla Rabang, Edilee Omoyon and Pol Rubia of AANI.
 
Another important benefit that can be derived from taking care of stingless bees is the pollination of fruit trees and other crops. One fellow who is benefiting from this is Ronald Costales who runs an organic farm in Majayjay, Laguna.
 
One of the crops that Ronald is growing inside greenhouses is Japanese cucumber. This is a favorite of high-end restaurants and hotels in Manila so that Ronald has to make sure that he has a steady supply throughout the year. And one way is to grow his cucumber inside the greenhouse.
 
The greenhouse, however, is enclosed and no insects from outside can get inside to pollinate his plants. Because of that he was reported to have poor fruit set, until he came to know Rico Omoyon of Milea Bee Farm which introduced to him the stingless bee.
 
Ronald was so happy that he came to know of the stingless bee from Rico. Now he is using stingless bees inside his greenhouses to pollinate his cucumbers.

You can reach Rico and Edilee Omoyon at: www.mileabeefarm.com.
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