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Getting to Know Stingless Bees

Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation

Perhaps not many of us are aware that besides the bees of the Apis genus, we have another group of bees that are potential producers of bee products (honey, bee pollen, propolis). These bees are generally easier to keep and produce very good honey. They don’t even sting. Stingless bees are known by various local names. Some of these names include kelulut (Malay), klanceng (Javanese), teuweul (Sundanese), galo-galo (Sulawesi), etc. According to the Indomalayan Stingless Bee Rasmussen catalog (2008), there are 35 species of stingless bees in Indonesia.

Stingless bees live in colonies with clear division of labor (eusocial). A colony consists of one or more queens, hundreds of male bees, and thousands of sterile female bees. The queen’s task is to lay eggs to produce new offspring. The male bees’ task is solely to mate. Meanwhile, the sterile female bees have various tasks such as collecting food, guarding the nest, and caring for the queen, male bees, and young bees.

The type of stingless bees

All types of stingless bees nest in holes, with a single entrance that is sometimes equipped with a trumpet-shaped funnel. Stingless bees build their nests with a unique security system to protect the nest from intruders and diseases. The nest selection of stingless bees tends to show variations in the choice of nest types. For example, the main species of Heterotrigona tends to choose holes in trees as their nesting sites. Heterotrigona thoracica tends to choose holes in rocks or trees with large trunk diameters. Meanwhile, the species Tetragonula laeviceps, as a cosmopolitan species, tends to be more pragmatic in choosing nesting media. They can inhabit bamboo segments, holes in damaged buildings, pipes, and others.


Sidiq Harjanto

“The earth provides enough to meet everyone’s needs but not everyone’s greed.”


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