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For many of us, consuming honey is one thing we’d welcome with open arms, however going close to beehives to farm it? Not fairly.
Whereas the honeybee solely stings as a final resort for self-defence, not everybody would have the arrogance to stroll into colonies of honeybees even with that data. Although maybe you’d be glad to know that in Malaysia, we’re in a position to farm stingless bees.
Domestically, they’re often called kelulut bees, and it’s really an business that’s reaped RM33.6 million within the nation as of 2020, however has the potential to develop to RM3.03 billion in annual gross sales if developed. Therefore, we interviewed 2 kelulut farms in West Malaysia (Bayu Kelulut, Kedah) and East Malaysia (R H Bee Farms, Sarawak) for extra on the present business.
A Native Fauna Wealth
“Kelulut bees have origins in Malaysia and have existed right here for hundreds of years, however had solely been commercialised in 2015,” Amira of Bayu Kelulut shared with Vulcan Publish.
Beehives in Bayu Kelulut’s farms / Picture Credit score: Bayu Kelulut
“In 2014, there was a giant buzz on scientific findings about kelulut honey. If the honey was consumed constantly, it may be extremely useful to 1’s well being,” she defined.
Whereas honeybees can be found all around the globe, kelulut bees can solely be present in nations with tropical and subtropical climates, Southeast Asia being one in every of them, shared Joe of R H Bee Farms.
Bee hives in R H Bee Farms / Picture Credit score: R H Bee Farms
To the untrained eye, kelulut bees might share a resemblance to a housefly due to the absence of a striped physique and its smaller measurement (3mm to 10mm) in comparison with honeybees (12mm to 25mm), in line with Joe.
Style-wise, the honey that they produce is completely different too. The honey reaped from kelulut bees have a tangy, candy, and bitter style coupled with an earthy scent.
It Doesn’t Sting However It Bites
Now, each residing factor can have defences of kinds, and the kelulut bee isn’t any completely different. When threatened, they’ll chew you but it surely gained’t lead to a lump or an itch, in line with Amira.
Although honeybees want making their hives on tree limbs and partitions, the kelulut bees a lot want hole trunks, underground cavities, and wall cavities.
A bonus they’ve over honeybees is that they’re extra illness and pest-resistant. They’re innocent to native species and are nice pollinators as effectively, in line with Joe.
The place a bee eats and lives its days out / Picture Credit score: R H Bee Farms
“Kelulut bees are extra informative than honeybees. In response to this analysis, kelulut bees may also [explore] however don’t totally exploit the present floral sources. Honeybees then again will exploit the floral sources until empty and [do] exploration for brand new floral sources,” Amira shared.
It’s because kelulut bees solely forage as much as 800m, whereas honeybees forage as much as 3km, Joe added.
A Profitable However Costly Bee-siness
A kelulut bee’s physique measurement compared to a honeybee’s isn’t the one factor that’s smaller, really. They’ll develop a colony of as much as 10,000, equal to the smallest colony measurement for honeybees.
Due to this, their yield is comparatively decrease than that of honeybees. And due to how low it’s, operational prices are increased in comparison with farming honeybees as effectively, ensuing of their increased retail value.
Regardless of it being a blessing that kelulut bees are in a position to thrive in a tropical local weather like ours, one of many downsides is that in wet seasons, they’re unable to gather nectar on account of their smaller physique and foraging distance, leading to even decrease manufacturing.
Harvesting honey from the bees (left) and inside their hives (proper) / Picture Credit score: Bayu Kelulut
Nonetheless, Joe shared that the rationale why they’d nonetheless pursue it’s because they discover the present honeybee market too aggressive. Kelulut bee honey then again seems to be a extra premium product on high of getting a extra distinctive style.
Amira chimed in, sharing that their incentive was additionally in its medicinal worth, as a result of kelulut bee honey is richer in antioxidants in comparison with their honeybee counterparts’ honey.
Extracting the honey / Picture Credit score: R H Bee Farms
Presently, R H Bee Farms has lower than 20 beekeepers with over 7,000 bee hives, whereas Bayu Kelulut has four,000 bee hives. Each these farms are supported by MARDI and MATRADE in R&D and abroad market penetration respectively.
As of now, each these farms export to Asian nations like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore.
Stingless However Tolerates Predators Higher
Honey isn’t the one factor that draws intruders to those bee farms, as kelulut bees themselves are prey to frogs, lizards, spiders, and many others. Therefore, beekeepers should take further care in making certain the protection of the bees’ hives from these bugs and spiderwebs.
Month-to-month auditing of the hives / Picture Credit score: R H Bee Farms
“To maintain off intruders like monkeys and bears who love honey, we put in an electrical fencing system in 2020 on our farms,” Joe shared. Nonetheless, kelulut bees are typically extra tolerant of pests and ailments.
On the enterprise aspect of issues, Amira shared that they have been initially challenged by the truth that kelulut honey didn’t adjust to the requirements of the Worldwide Honey Fee (IHC)/CODEX) and the Malaysia Meals Act 1983 as a result of the requirements they’ve are measured primarily based on regular conventional honey.
“Therefore, Bayu Kelulut together with Gabungan Persatuan Usahawan Kelulut Malaysia (GPUKM) pushed for the institution of recent guidelines and parameters from the federal government for kelulut honey. In 2017, the Malaysian Normal of Kelulut Honey (MS2683:2017) was established with the assistance of SIRIM, MARDI, and the Division of Normal Malaysia to beat this challenge,” she informed Vulcan Publish.
With all the knowledge shared by Amira and Joe on kelulut bees and the business, right here’s a desk shared by Joe that sums up a number of the greatest variations between honeybees and our kelulut bees.
Stingless BeesStinging BeesWidespread Title– Kelulut
– Trigona– Honey bee
– Italian BeeDistributionTropical and sub-tropical countriesAll over the globeHive– Hole trunk
– Underground cavities
– Wall cavities– Tree limb
– WallPhysique DimensionThree-10mm12-25mmColony Dimension1,000 – 10,00010,000 – 60,000Life SpanApprox. 60 days (drone/employee) and three years (queen)Approx. 120 days (drone/employee) and 5 years (queen)Foraging distanceAs much as 800mUp to 3kmHive AnatomyHorizontally constructedVertically constructedHoney Manufacturing300g to 1kg/month per colonyUp to 5kg/month per colonyDefence– Strikes with propolis
– Often bitesStingsProducesHoney, propolis, pollenHoney, pollen, honeycomb, royal jellyBenefitExcessive tolerance to pests and ailments– Excessive yield of honey manufacturing
– Longer life spanDownside– Low yield of honey manufacturing
– Shorter life spanVulnerable to ailmentsYou’ll be able to be taught extra about R H Bee Farms right here and Bayu Kelulut right here.You’ll be able to examine extra startups we’ve lined right here.
Featured Picture Credit score: R H Bee Farms
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