Honey from Stingless Bees: Medicinal Gold

Stingless bees are social; they form a colony that persists for several years. In good and bad times, bees work together for the sake of their colony. To prepare for bad times, like when floral resources are limited, they store food in pots small as a peanut or big as a macadamia nut, depending on the species. Honey is stored inside these well-sealed pots. And this is where the magic happens: fermentation. Stingless bee honey has a relatively high-water content of around 25%. This leads to natural fermentation and adds some acidity to the sweetness.

Thanks to the sustainable management of stingless bees, we can benefit from the bees’ liquid gold. In East Africa, stingless beekeeping, the so-called meliponiculture, is performed predominantly in Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Local communities appreciate stingless bee honey and keep colonies as first aid boxes next to their houses.

Compared to honeybees, stingless bees produce way less honey. Only about one litre can be harvested per colony in a year. And yet, stingless beekeeping is becoming popular as more people appreciate the medicinal properties of the honey. It has a low glycaemic index with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibiotic properties. Therefore, stingless bee honey is an immune booster rather than a simple sweetener. One may say: a teaspoon a day keeps the doctor away.