Stingless Bees & Spiral Hives

by Katy - Bee Missionary October 09, 2020

Stingless Bees & Spiral Hives

This weekend we talk about stingless bees, spiral hives and native bees. There have been some interesting bits of news on these subjects, so take your time and enjoy learning about the little bees whose honey is mostly collected for medicinal purposes and is considered liquid gold. 

Stingless Bees and Spiral Hives

Stingless bees are master architects and builders, and the hives they create are very exotic compared to other beehives.

Unique Spiral Hives of the Australian Stingless Bees is a 1:13-minute National Geographic video by Tom Heard that shows the beauty and integrity of the amazing stingless bee beehive.

 

 

The Tetragonula Carbonaria is the only species that builds upwards in a spiral pattern format. These highly social insects are called “sugarbag bees.” One queen oversees the efforts of thousands of her worker bees. Batches of 80 cells are built and provisioned at the same time. When construction ends, the queen bee lays eggs in each cell. It is unclear why stingless bees build their hives in this pattern, although there is speculation that it is easier for the queen bee to navigate her hive.

Meliponini Stingless Bees There are over 500 species and they are found in Australia, Central America, Brazil, Thailand, India, Africa and most tropical and sub-tropical places. Their stingers have been greatly reduced, so they do not use them for defense. They defend themselves in other ways such as biting or trying to enter human ears and noses.

The video Meliponini – Stingless Bees is 3:35-minutes long by SUPAHshark88:

 

 

Thousands of years ago in the Mayan culture, beekeeping was important and these bees were regarded as sacred and were revered for their honey. The Maya people had a Bee god, Ah-Muzen-Cab. Honey was harvested from the native bees Melipona beecheii during these religious ceremonies. Stingless bees were very important pollinators of the vanilla orchid, they knew exactly how to get inside the blossom to pollinate it. 

Brazil has 300+ species of stingless bees, but only 20-30 are viable for honey. Most species are from the genus Melipona. There are several hive designs and structures for where the honey is kept. They are separated into honey supers and brood chambers. There are traditional hives like ceramic pots and hollow logs, hive boxes that are similar to honeybee hives but smaller and do not need frames, and hanging hives like PVC container hives or hollow gourds.

A single hive of Melipona bees can produce 2 pints or so of honey per year, compared to Apis bees that produce up to 42 pints per year. To extract the honey, the honey storage vessels must be removed and crushed, so the honey runs out. Many stingless bee beekeepers in Brazil only keep the bees for producing medicinal honey. Due to its rarity and properties, Melipona bee honey can sell for more than 25 times higher prices than honeybee honey.

An advantage the meliponini bees have over the European Honey Bee is that they are smaller and can fit into smaller areas. In Australia, it is becoming more popular to keep these small bees as pets or in greenhouses to pollinate crops in an enclosed area. These bees help to pollinate Australia’s watermelons, mangoes and macadamia nuts which are big export crops.

Scientists Sequence Genome of Brazilian Stingless Bee

A Brazilian research team has sequenced the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes of Frieseomelitta varia, a stingless bee that has, as a peculiarity, a completely sterile worker caste.

Frieseomelitta varia, a species of bee in the tribe Meliponini (stingless bees), was chosen for this genome project because of its peculiar reproductive biology.

Different from most other stingless bee species, Frieseomelitta varia workers are completely sterile and, thus represent an extreme end in the queen-worker and worker-worker conflict of interest over male production in a bee colony. Read the full story here.

Innovative New Native Bee Hive Design in Australia

Ann and Geoff Ross have pioneered an award-winning hexagonal hive assembly that produces a range of native bee products like native bee honey, propolis and also facilitates pollination. 

Stories from the Red Couch has created this 22:17-minute video interview by Robyn Cook with Ann Ross from Hive Haven about their better insulated new hexagonal native beehives that she and her husband are making. 

 

 

This is the V9 Native Bee Box, which is quite versatile and maintenance free. It has a 70mm hollow insulation cavity that can be filled with liquid or a soft liquid insulator. This groundbreaking smart technology records temperatures in the native bee arena regarding insulation.

This hive is a huge success in northern Australia, where they appreciate the design and insulation. Climate change in the future will make these hives ever more popular.

A hive was recently installed at Australian parliament in Canberra.

Native bees live in balance and only tend to make enough honey for themselves. People can’t take more than a kilo of honey, so it is treated like liquid gold. The propolis and honey have a medicinal future.

Happy weekend to you, our valued reader... we thank you for faithfully reading our blog posts and for helping us uplift bees and raise consciousness about their needs. If you know anybody who might enjoy our blog, please share it with them. That's just another way you can help to save the bees.

 

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Katy - Bee Missionary
Katy - Bee Missionary

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