Lombok Honey I Lombok’s Liquid Gold
MADU RAJA TRIGONA
When you hear the word “bee” what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Is it maybe the delicious honey? The buzzing sound of bees? Or is it maybe the thought that bees can sting you? If you associate bees with stinging and that makes you a bit scared of them, then we have a piece of good news for you. Delve into the world of bees and discover the enchanting sweetness of Lombok honey.
THE LOMBOK LODGE LIQUID GOLD – STINGLESS BEE HONEY
Did you know that there are stingless bees?
Not all bees are the same! There are around 20,000 known species of bees, each with its own characteristics. One of which is the ability to sting. Even though they have the word ‘stingless’ in their name, they are not stingless. Meliponines have a stinger, but it’s reduced and cannot be used for defense. Stingless bees, also known as stingless honey bees or meliponines, are a large group of bees that includes about 500 bee species. They are closely related to common honeybees since they belong to the same family.
Stingless bee honey is a precious bee product of the stingless bee. Stingless bee honey is different from that produced by the classic honey bee in terms of its color, taste, and viscosity. This valuable bee product has traditionally been consumed directly and used in numerous medical practices: both traditional methods, in which honey is harvested directly from the forest.
The total antioxidant activity in the Stingless Bee honey was proven to be higher than that of the floral honey. Stingless bee honey has a distinctive “bush” taste—a mix of sweet and sour with a hint of fruit. The taste comes from plant resins—which the bees use to build their hives and honey pots. It varies at different times of the year depending on the flowers and trees visited.
Trigona is one of the largest genera of stingless bees.
Kingdom: Hymenoptera – Class: Apidae – Scientific Name: Meliponini – Species in Lombok: Trigona Clypearis Friese.
Today’s stingless bees are in great demand by beekeepers in Lombok. Besides producing honey, it also produces propolis which has more value. Propolis or bee glue is a substance produced by honey bees collected from the top young leaves mixed with saliva, patch, and hive sterilization. This substance could be used for antibacterial, antivirus, antifungal, and anti-protozoa.
In Lombok, apiculture for stingless bees has spread in almost every district. Northern Lombok, West Lombok, and East Lombok were the first three locations that developed stingless bees. This study aimed to identify the species of stingless bees and their propolis productivity and characteristics produced by each species. There were two species of stingless bees cultivated by the people of Lombok, Trigona clypearis and Trigona sapiens. With the development of science, the genus Trigona changed its nomenclature into Tetragonula. The yield of propolis through extraction using water or Aqueous Extraction Propolis (AEP) produced by T. clypearis was 34-55% and T. sapiens was in the range of 3-24%. The flavonoid content equivalent to quercetin in propolis produced by T. sapiens as vary as T. clypearis. The results of this study could be used as a baseline for other propolis extraction activities to produce propolis more marketable.
Over 150,000 living species of Hymenoptera have been described, in addition to over 2,000 extinct ones. Many of the species are parasitic. Females typically have a special ovipositor for inserting eggs into hosts or places that are otherwise inaccessible. This ovipositor is often modified into a stinger. The young develop through holometabolism (complete metamorphosis)— that is, they have a wormlike larval stage and an inactive pupal stage before they mature. Bees are in the insect order Hymenoptera, along with the many species of wasps and ants. Those species with social colonies are structured in a caste system.
Apidae is the largest family within the superfamily Apoidea, containing at least 5700 species of bees. The family includes some of the most commonly seen bees, including bumblebees and honey bees, but also includes stingless bees (also used for honey production), carpenter bees, orchid bees, cuckoo bees, and several other less widely known groups. Many are valuable pollinators in natural habitats and for agricultural crops.
Stingless bees – Meliponini – are by far the largest group of eusocial bees on Earth. Due to the diversity of evolutionary responses to specific ecological challenges, the Meliponini are well suited for comparative studies of the various adaptations to the environment.
DIVISION OF LABORS AT THE BEE HIVES
There is a division of labor among members of the colony to make sure all the critical colony needs are met. One Bee Hive consists of about 7000 bees and can produce 200 to 300 ml of honey in 4 months.
THE QUEEN BEE / RATU
The queen bee is the female reproductive “leader” of the colony among the social bee species. There is a division of labor among members of the colony to make sure all the critical colony needs are met. queen honey bee lives two to three years, on average, with a few living up to five years
The queen honey bee is responsible for laying all of the eggs needed to produce new bees and develop the colony. She is the only egg-laying member of the colony. The queen honey bee also directs the behavior, the work assignments, and the balance of the colony population to make sure it is structurally sound. She communicates her directives with various pheromones, which are chemicals that dictate the behavior of specific bees, and cause some colony members to become workers, some to become drones, and others, into potential queens.
Worker bees are all female, but they are not sexually mature, and most never will be. They collect and produce food or serve as nurse bees, tending to the eggs, larvae, and pupae stage bees as they develop. Some of the worker bees serve the queen, providing her with royal jelly, which is a nutrient required for her effective reign. Female Bees / Workers Bees can live for 10 weeks or, more and less 70 days. Working all the time taking resin, bee pollen, and nectar.
A drone is a male honey bee. Unlike the female worker bees, drones do not have stingers. They gather neither nectar nor pollen and are unable to feed without assistance from worker bees. A drone’s only role is to mate with an unfertilized queen and their only function is to provide sperm for fertilization of the eggs.
A drone can live 6 to 8 weeks. It may sound like they are the lazy members of the colony that are of little benefit, but the colony could not survive without them. The life of a drone is not quite the “good life” that it may seem to be. Drones die immediately after mating with the queen. Those that do not mate are no longer needed by the colony, so they are dragged from the nest by the workers, where they quickly starve to death.
STINGLESS BEE HONEY – THE MOTHER MEDICINE & ENEMY OF DISEASES
For centuries honey has been known to be the enemy of diseases. Stingless bee honey is called Mother Medicine and there are an increasing number of traditional practitioners and researchers suggesting its use. Many known health benefits of eating stingless bee honey regularly include anti-aging, enhanced libido and immune system, fighting bacteria, and treating bronchial catarrh, sore throat, coughs, and colds.
Honey is also restorative after an illness and is said to soothe pain, act as an antiseptic, hasten healing, relieve cough, and be effective in curing burns, carbuncles, boils, and diabetic wounds.
An extensive study on honey reported that among the various honey varietals, dark color honey produced by Trigona from starfruit or carambola trees contains exceptionally high levels of potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Stingless bee honey certainly has a lot of nutrients because meliponine is smaller than the normal bee and can suck nectar from flowers to the deepest space. As a result, the honey collected contains many vitamins and minerals, among which is propolis, produced from the bee’s saliva mixed with its food such as pollen, bark, tree shoots, and flowers.
Propolis is considered beneficial to health because it contains all 16 amino acids, glucose, vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, bioflavonoids, and minerals. Bioflavanid repairs and improves the systems of the human body and livestock.
MIRACLE LIQUID / LIQUID GOLD
There is a long and rich history of using honey as medicine, especially in ancient times. Some records show that people have used honey as a balm, an inebriant, a psychoactive substance, or as a poison. Multiple contemporary studies suggest that honey from stingless bees has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties.
Stingless bees make honey with chemicals that ward off microbial and fungal growth, an adaptation to keep the substance from spoiling in the tropics. Given the wide variety of plant biodiversity in Indonesia and the incredible range of botanical chemicals, the bees mix into their honey and wax, it’s also no surprise it has medicinal value. Indeed, some call such honey a ‘Miracle Liquid’ / ‘Liquid Gold’.
People in Lombok use several types of stingless bee honey and wax from their hives to treat upper respiratory infections, skin conditions, gastrointestinal problems, and even to treat diabetes and cancer. Though research has begun providing a hint of support for some of these uses, much of it is still preliminary.
Honey from stingless bees can be used externally in treating infections. It can be applied to skin wounds to prevent infections. An untreated wound oozes liquid and excessive moisture can act as a catalyst in causing infections. Honey absorbs this excess moisture and fights off infection-causing agents in these wounds.
TREATMENT OF BURNS
Honey can be an effective medicine for burns. The soothing and antiseptic properties of honey from stingless bees can be useful in the treatment of burns.
TREATS THROAT IRRITATION AND COUGHS
Stingless bee honey can be used as an effective medicine for cough and throat irritation. A warm drink of honey and lemon is advised for the treatment of coughs and sore throat.
PROVIDES RELIEF AGAINST ULCERS AND BACTERIAL GASTROENTERITIS
Honey from Stingless honey bees are advised for the treatment of ulcers and bacterial gut infections. Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria found in the stomach is known to be the cause of peptic ulcer. The antimicrobial properties of honey are useful in eradicating these microorganisms and provide relief for ulcer patients.
FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT MAKES STINGLESS BEE HONEY MORE VALUABLE THAN NORMAL HONEY?
Stingless bee honey is considered to be the most nutritious honey than other honey varieties. Stingless honey bees exist in most parts of the world. These bees are much smaller than the usual honey bees and each of them is not bigger than 5 mm. One of the unique features of these honey bees is that they are not stingers.
SINCE THEY ARE NOT STINGERS, HOW WOULD THEY DEFEND THEIR COLONY FROM ENEMIES LIKE ANTS AND OTHER PESTS?
They live in hollow trees and rocks and make use of resin to build tube-like entrances to their nests. As their colonies rely entirely on flower nectar and pollen for food, they are important pollinators of many forest plants. They make use of a plant resin called propolis to trap the ants and other pests. They even bite their enemies, as in the case of humans they make use of propolis on the human skin and bite on the eyelids. The bees even crawl inside the nose and ears. They are capable of biting and could become very aggressive when protecting their hives.
WHAT’S THE REASON BEHIND THE MEDICINAL QUALITIES OF STINGLESS BEE HONEY?
The medicinal qualities of stingless bee honey or ‘Cheruthen’ are mentioned in Ayurvedic tests and other medical journals. This honey variety can be administered to small children to treat mild fever. Since it has antibacterial properties, stingless bee honey can be used against various infections.
The flowers of many of those antibacterial and anti-fungal medicinal shrubs and herbs are very small. Normal honey bees are much bigger and are not cut out to take away the nectar and pollen from these flowers. Bigger bees are mostly circulated in fruit orchards, where all sorts of chemicals and hormones are used for production. However, the small size of stingless bees enables them to feed on these medicinal flowers, thereby increasing the medicinal value of their honey.
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