How to Harvest Honey, Pollen and Propolis from Stingless Bees

Summary

On top of the role of stingless bees in crop pollination, additional income could be derived from the valuable hive products they produce: honey, pollen and propolis. This technology discusses the simple procedure for gathering honey, pollen and propolis from stingless bees in coconut shells hives and wooden boxes.

Description

In the technology "Propagation of Stingless Bees using Cocount Shells"   (see: http://teca.fao.org/technology/propagation-stingless-bees-using-coconut-shells) we explained how stingless bees can be easily propagated using coconut shells.  Here we will explain how the beekeeper can generate additional income by collecting honey, pollen and propolis from the stingless bees.

Harvesting pollen and honey from coconut shell hives is fairly easy.  When the honey pots are sealed, the honey is already ripe and ready to harvest.

Check the content of the coconut shell chamber with a clean bamboo stick. Lift the chamber containing the honey and pollen stores and replace the removed shell with new ones. 

 

Harvesting honey

 

Coconut Shell

Scrape the honey and pollen off the shell. Separate the honey from the pollen pots. Honey can be dripped or pressed from the pots. Pass the honey through a fine mesh sieve into a settling tank. Settle the honey for at least a week, bottle and seal. Honey may be contaminated with airborne yeast and bacterial spores during harvest. Yeast spores germinate in high moisture conditions and ferment the honey. The honey should be pasteurized  especially when moisture content is more than 23%.

Pasteurization will kill the yeast that causes fermentation. To pasteurize, place the honey bottles in saucepan filled with water and heat to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 62 degrees Celcius) for about 30 min. The moisture content of honey is measured with the use of refractometer.

 

Wooden Hive

In wooden hives, supers are managed to contain honey or pollen only.  When full, honey supers are removed. The honey pots are cut and removed, and the super returned to the colony. The pots are sliced into smaller sized cubes and placed in a press or allowed to drip. Similarly, the honey is strained and allowed to settle before bottling. Pasteurize the honey using the procedure described above. 

 

Harvesting pollen

Pollen is manually separated from its pots with clean bamboo or stainless steel spoons. The clean pollen is spread out on screened trays and air dried under shade to protect from sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight wilI darken the pollen. It will take around three days to air-dry the pollen if the weather is fair and when ambient temperature is 30⁰C- 33⁰C. For commercial purposes, a moisture meter is used to measure the moisture content of pollen. The standard value for pollen moisture is not more than 6%. Dried pollen crumbles when pressed.  The cerumen and pots are cut into small chips and spread evenly on screened trays and air dried as well. Dried pollen and cerumen are placed in food grade plastic bags and vacuum sealed (if equipment is available).

 

 

Harvesting propolis

Propolis is gathered by cutting 1x1cm propolis sheath around the nest, with a distance of around 6cm in between to minimize the damage in the nest. The procedure may be repeated after two weeks when the open spaces have been fully mended.  Wearing rubber or vinyl gloves, clean the propolis should be cleaned by removing debris such as mud, dried leaves and saw dust that the bees mix them with resin. After cleaning, air dry the propolis for around three days. Dry propolis is less pliable and relatively hard compared to freshly harvested ones. Pack in clean plastic bags. The propolis is now used as raw material for making cosmetics, ointments and component of drugs.

Dried pollen and wax should be stored in a clean cool and dry room to prevent growth of molds. You can store the honey in a glass or food grade container. Store the honey away from the sunlight. Make sure that the lids are tightly sealed. 

 

 

 

Further reading

CERVANCIA,C.R. A.C. FAJARDO, A.C. MANILA-FAJARDO and R.M. LUCERO. 2012. Management of Philippine Bees: Stingless Bees and Honey Bees. With Bibliography of Philippine Bees. University of the Philippines Los Baños. ISBN 978-971-547-272-2. 71pp.

FAJARDO, A.C. JR., & CERVANCIA, C.R. 2003. Simple ways to manage stingless bees. Bees for Development. 67:3-5.

Region

Countries

Philippines

Created date

Fri, 27/02/2015 - 14:56

Source(s)

The University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)

The University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) is one of the seven autonomous campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP) System. It has its beginnings in the UP College of Agriculture that was established in 1908 and went on to become a leader in higher education and in research and development in agriculture and forestry in the Southeast Asia-Pacific region. In 1972, it was named the first constituent university of the UP System.

 

The Bee Program

The UPLB Bee Program is a multi-disciplinary, integrated research and extension program established on the 27tFebruary 1989. Its initial overall objective is to promote, formalize and make more effective the integration and coordination of all bee related projects and research and extension activities of UP Los Ban os and some national bee program of the Department of Agriculture.

It is committed to promote beekeeping to various sectors of our society and make it a viable industry. It is working with different organizations through research and extension towards the sustained production of quality bee products and conservation of bee species.

 

Contacts: 
Contact person: 
Cleofas Cervancia
Country: 
Philippines