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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 !





Just want to share my collection of honey from different bees species

I also want to thank Dra Cervancia and the whole UPLB BEE team for a very effective Bee Training Course.

This training gave me a lot of knowledge and makes me more interested in beekeeping.

Right now I am planning to put some stingless bee in my friends lansones farm to help them to increase their harvest, also to promote the stingless bee and of course “makikilagay na rin“ J

I just learned that stingless bee is a good pollinator of coconut and mangoes, is it also good for lansones?


Dear Jhing,


thank you for sharing images of your honey collection. It is interesting to note the differences in color. The more we should appreciate the floral diversity in the tropics. 


Your friend will be pleased with your stingless bees under their lansones tree!

Greetings! i always loved (and always will) honey. In our place in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines we have some private and government owned honey production. There are also sellers from nearby provinces which the honey came from the wild (example, from Abra, Philippines). I have appreciated those that came from the wild because of the taste. They also sell honey from stingless bees, but would dictate a higher price.

I am interested to know if the quality of honey from stingless bees is more superior from the common bees? so i will know if it is worth buying a more expensive stingless honey (the price though may vary from other areas, but this case is particularly for our locality) as compared to the common products.

Lastly, may you suggest how to successfully promote honey from stingless bees in the market?

Thanks and more power!

From a standpoint of a chemistry student, the existence of standards for complex products such as honey is very important to assess their quality. However, since honey has multiple sources, multiples standards must be established to account for differences caused by the location of the source of the product and the species of the source, amont others.


Greetings to all.

Finally made my way in into this group discussion. I agree with Prof Cervacia. There is a need to come out with a new standard for Meliponine honey. First let me introduce myself. My name is Azfa, currently hold a position as a research scientist in Malaysia Genome Institute. We had started developing a database of metabolite profile of our local Meliponine honey since September 2015. The initiative was supported by a small funding from the government and to be completed in a fast track mode (within 6 months). The profiling was performed by using the NMR platform that we had in our institute. From this pre-liminary data, we found a high diversity of honey profile between Meliponine species as well as localities within four states in Peninsular Malaysia alone. However, regardless f the high spcies variation, data distribution between the raw and fake honey (we construct this ourselves) can still be discriminated by using the non-targeted metabolite profiling. Based on our previous finding, now we're expanding our metabolite database to further characterize and determine the distribution pattern between species and localities. Due to the honey varieties, it will be a 'sticky' business if we're to come out with one standard. But I would like to suggest to start develop a standard using honey from the domestic species and further expand to other species. I bet Mr Abu Hassan had mentioned about the dipterocarp dependent and non-dependent, and guess what, our pre-liminary data revealed a specific distribution pattern between species in these two groups. The more we dig into it, the more complicated it become. That's why I think maybe we can start developing a standard based on the domesticated Meliponine honey first.

Other than that, our local Meliponine honey obviously contain a high amount of disaccharide and glucose/fructose ratio may not be valid as a parameter. While doing the experiment, we also 'accidentally' developed a prototype reagent for raw honey detection which may be developed into a screening method for pure honey detection. Currently we're performing a field test of this reagent. Hopefully it will be useful one day..maybe.



imagem de eraldwin dimailig

Good day! I hope that the results from your study can be share to the grass root level, specially the small farmers that is engaging on bee keeping! in this way thay will appreciate more the benefits and environmental contribution of our native bees.  Congrats and more power on your project!

Thank you Eraldwin. The findings should be shared with the public. What we're working for is not just a big data storage, but it will be a working database to facilitate the farmers, users, traders and regulatory bodies. 

Dear Azfa,

Your work will contribute significantly in  the standardization of meliponine honey. Your findings are very interesting. You are correct , we should start to develop from one species, and expand later. With data from various samples, it will be easier to harmonize.  We are looking forward to your results, and kindly publish as soon as done. 

Thank you.


Dear Prof Cervancia,

Thank you for your support. We will definitely share the findings. 

As I suspected... green honey is not so rare anymore. First pic below shows green honey in a meliponine nests' honey pot in Lawas, Northern Sarawak bordering Brunei and Sabah. The other in Peninsula Malysia.

Initially we thought it was some form of contamination appearing like liquid flourescent toxic waste.... upon further testing (by M'sian Genome Inst.), found it to have chlorophyll constituents.

The last pic shows green liquid smears on Geniotirigona incisa propolis in Sulawesi.

Green is in!