We all love having our honey but farming it and having to go near beehives, hmm maybe not… but did you know, there are stingless bees out there?
These harmless bees are called Kelulut in Malaysia and Tantadan in Sabah. To the untrained eyes, the stingless bee could resemble a housefly due the stripes on its body and it’s smaller in size (3mm to 10mm) compared to honey bees (12mm to 25mm).
Kelulut can only be found in tropical or subtropical regions, Southeast Asia being one of them. There are over 500 species globally and 78 species can be found in Malaysia but only four species are commercially cultivated. Stingless bees are actually very common here in Sabah. You can find the hives in hollow trunks, underground cavities, and wall cavities, unlike honeybees which prefer tree limbs and walls.
These bees have highly reduced stingers that can’t be used for defence. Thus, they’re generally harmless to humans. Although they don’t sting, they do bite when threatened but it won’t itch or result to a lump so don’t worry.
Taste-wise, the honey produced is different from honey bees. It has a very distinctive flavour – tangy, sweet, and sour. This is because each of these bees covers a flight zone of a maximum of 1km radius and harvest specific flowers making them more exclusive.