Group in KL for stingless bee tour

National 2 minutes, 45 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

TWENTY-EIGHT beekeepers from Brunei left for Kuala Lumpur yesterday to participate in the 2016 Stingless Bee Tour.

Organised by the Malaysia Stingless Bee Academy, the event is being held from March 19-24 in conjunction with ASEAN Stingless Bee Carnival 2016 in Putrajaya.

The local beekeepers will be taking part in the tour for the first time.

Speaking at Brunei International Airport, the head of the group, Mitasby Hj Mamit, said the beekeepers will be attending a series of activities including the carnival at the Botanical Garden in Putrajaya, a course on producing other products from stingless bee honey and visiting stingless bee centres and agro-farms.

“We want to learn from our counterparts during the programmes so we can improve and develop good beekeeping practices in Brunei,” said Mitasby, who owns the Tasbee Meliponiculture Farm in Kg Sg Kelugos, Tutong District.

Mitasby developed a traditional practice of producing honey from stingless bees in 2009 followed by creating stingless bee honey-based soap in 2013.

In January this year, he started producing handmade aromatherapy candles using honey from stingless bees.

“At the moment, I only sell the candles to relatives and friends,” he said.

Another beekeeper in the group, Hjh Marinah Hj Abd Hadi, a former bank employee, said she began beekeeping in November 2014.

She was very keen to develop her beekeeping practice after visiting the Tasbee Meliponiculture Farm, which is also one of the tourism sites under the Tutong Destination Programme to attract locals and foreigners to visit Mukim Keriam.

“I want to help people who want to cure their illnesses by consuming natural honey.”

Stingless bees, which can be found in most tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Africa and Southeast Asia, produce honey like honey bees do. Stingless bee honey is said to possess high nutritional value.

Hjh Marinah said the honey has health benefits for people with diabetes and gout.

Helped by her husband, they spent around $200 purchasing stingless bees and wooden man-made nests. She then started breeding the stingless bees on a small-scale farm on her property in Kg Tungku, Gadong.

The product, she said, is currently priced at $15 for an 80ML bottle and $20 for a 100ML bottle.

“The buyers are mostly friends and relatives,” she said, adding that the products were introduced by word of mouth and social media.

She earns around $500 to $700 a month on average from selling the honey. She also sells empty bottles for storing the honey and pumps to extract it. She has yet to achieve her revenue target, however, as she only began operations a year and a half ago.

She said to gain more knowledge and develop better skills in stingless bee farming, she will be joining the 27 other beekeepers from Brunei to take part in the 2016 Stingless Bee Tour.

Hjh Marinah said she hopes the event will provide an avenue for the beekeepers to strengthen their relationships with their Malaysian counterparts, share best practices in developing stingless bee farming and learn about the various species of stingless bees in the region as well as how to grow flowers, as their pollen is the main source of food for stingless bees.

At the 12th Legislative Council (LegCo) session, a LegCo member urged local entrepreneurs to enter niche markets such as stingless bee honey as a way to generate income.The Brunei Times