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Let's give a toast for tropical honey

Greetings from Asia! My name is Cleo Cervancia, a Professor from the University of the Philippines Los Banos and currently the President of Apimondia Regional Commission for Asia. In 2014, our topic was on stingless bees and how to produce and collect honey, pollen and propolis from stingless bees. Now, we are inviting you once again to join the discussion on tropical honey, especially the honey produced in Asia.  Our aim is to establish honey standard including for wild honey from giant bees and stingless bees. Quality standards for honey are needed to produce better quality of honey, safeguard consumer’s health and gain consumer’s trust that they are purchasing quality and safe products, and ensure that honey and the way it is produced meets the legislative policy, and ethical requirements of importing countries for food safety, consumer protection, environmental protection, and worker’s welfare (Partap et al 2012).

Do you believe that not all honey is equal? The plant sources, type of bees and environment are major factors that explain why not all honeys are not the same.  It is for this reason that we need to harmonize tropical honey standards set by each country to further improve its quality. Moreover, standards are used for marketing purposes. The consumers have the right to know the quality of the product they are getting.

As you might know, there are existing standards for honey based on Codex Alimentarius and EU honey directive.  However, the criteria set by EU directives are based on honey produced by western species of honey bees, Apis mellifera. So this means that according to EU honey directive, all honey produced by bees that are not Apis mellifera (or the European honey bee) cannot be sold as honey.   Considering the diverse bee species and vegetation in the tropics, it is about time to establish separate standard for the tropical honey.  In the Hindu Kush Himalayan countries, only China, India and Nepal have developed quality assurance systems for honey. The Philippines has also crafted standard for honey. The aim of harmonization is to find commonalities, identify the critical requirements  that need to be retained, and provide a common standard for the Asian region. 

The following topics will be covered in this discussion:

I.                  Introduction : Definition of honey and How honey is produced

II.                 Species of honey producing bees

III.                Physico-chemical characteristics of tropical honey

IV.                Proposed standard for tropical honey

V.                 Synthesis

We invite you to join the discussion which will run from 7 October to 7 November 2016 to ask questions and most importantly to share your knowledge !




I support the issue of having strict  standards. Without standards many people will bring to the market products that are not safe for consume. Honey can easily be adulterated by many people starting from the beekeepers, traders and retailers. This has been done to increase volume of sales and get more from poor products. The strict standards will discourage adulteration of honey and this will improve the safety and quality of honey on the market. 

At times we take honey without knowing what quality specs to consider before taking. This is known by just a few people. Many people are not even concerned about knowing the quality and composition of honey but this is very important to any consumer. The strict controls will enable many people in beekeeping, honey traders and retailers to know more about honey and also try to pass on the knowledge to other people. I believe quality, standards and systems of honey production are key. 

We cannot limit ourselves to single definition because several types of bees make honey which the composition are different.  

Are we going to give definition based on it ingredients content or solidity?


Dear Fayinkeh,


I agree with you that we cannot limit ourselves to a single definition of honey. For example, in European standard, honey refers only to the nectar gathered by Apis mellifera. It is because they don't have other species of bees. In the tropics, we have many species of nectar-gathering bees, including stingless bees. To accommodate the non-mellifera bees, we proposed to use "bees".

  We consider the unifying features of all types of honey in crafting a definition. It is a given that  all honeys are gathered by bees from nectar and extra-floral nectar. Anyway, definition is just for reference purposes.

The ingredients may not be included in the definition.


Thanks and best regards,




Dear Fellows

May I know how many methods are used in Royal jelly production as it needs lots of resources where beekeepers mainly relies on wild flora. In Pakistan, there are two bee species which are kept in bee hives which include Apis mellifera (most commonly kept species) and Apis cerana (mostly wild bit kep in some parts of Northern Pakistan where temperatures are mild and wild flora is abundant with least pesticide use).

Please do share as in our one of the preliminary trials, queenless colonies were efficient to follow the production better than queen right colonies of Apis mellifera. This differed from the experinece of others who suggested to go for queen right colonies for this process

need comments, suggestions and possible methods to experiment and share




You are right, royal jelly production requires enormous resources. The species used is usually the Apis mellifera. Although in some Asian countries, Apis cerana is also used. 


may I refer you the the link below for more details about royal jelly.



Thank you.

cleo cervancia