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The honey and propolis production from Indonesian stingless bee: Tetragonula laeviceps

Agussalim, Nurliyani, Nafiatul Umami and Ali Agus

Faculty of Animal Science, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jl. Fauna 3, Bulaksumur, Yogyakarta - 55281, Indonesia
aliagus@ugm.ac.id

Abstract

In Indonesia, stingless bee species can be found nesting in bamboo, sugar palm stalks, tree trunk or wood, and in the ground. The objective of this study was to evaluate the production of honey, and propolis produced by the Indonesian stingless bee: Tetragonula laeviceps. Twenty colonies of stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps from bamboos were domesticated to the boxes and meliponiculture for four months in the Faculty of Animal Science, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta. The results showed that honey production by the stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps in the hives was required 3 to 4 days after domesticating to produce 2 to 3 pots that contain honey. The honey production from the stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps ranged from 60 to 263 ml (79.2 to 328 g) and the propolis was ranged from 15.4 to 77.2 g. It can be concluded that the Faculty of Animal Science UGM can be used for meliponiculture stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps.

Keywords: klanceng bee, bamboo nest, meliponiculture, nectar, resin


Introduction

In Indonesia, stingless bee species can be found nesting in bamboo, sugar palm stalks, tree trunk or wood, and in the ground (Agussalim 2015; Agussalim et al 2015). Furthermore, in Indonesia the stingless bee is called the Klanceng bee, especially in Java. Tetragonula laeviceps is one of the stingless bee species that can be found in Indonesia that nests in bamboo (Agussalim et al 2019; Agus et al 2019; Agussalim et al 2017). The stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps can produce honey, bee pollen, and propolis (Agussalim 2015; Agussalim et al 2015, 2017).

Honey is defined as the naturally sweet substance produced by honeybees or stingless bees from the nectar of plant flowers, extrafloral nectar, and honeydew (Codex Alimentarius 2001). Propolis is complex compounds and sticky dark-colored material that bees collect from living plants or wound plants like young buds, leaves, stalks that mix with waxes and fatty acids, essential oils, pollen, other organics, and minerals. Propolis used by bees in construction and adaptation of their nests, to protect the colony from the infectious agents like fungal and microbial (Cherbuliez 2013; Bankova et al 2003). The objective of this study was to evaluate the production of honey, and propolis produced by the Indonesian stingless bee: Tetragonula laeviceps.


Materials and methods

The stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps as much 20 colonies were domesticated from bamboos to boxes with size 30 x 15 x 13 cm. The domesticated colonies from bamboos hive were performed in the night to avoid stress in the bees. Briefly, the bamboo hive was split using a machete, then a queen bee, all of eggs or brood cells were transferred to the boxes hive by the cutting propolis in the base as the construction of eggs or brood cells. The foragers and drones were transferred using the brush from bamboo to box hives. The entrance of the box hive was smeared by propolis from the entrance bamboo hive in order easier for foragers to recognize their hive and box hives was closed by the board. Then, the colonies were meliponiculture for four months in the Faculty of Animal Science, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Temperature and Humidity Ambient

The temperature and humidity ambient were measured for two weeks by thermo-hygrometer and was started at 06:00 to 18:00.

Honey and Propolis Production

Honey production of stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was measured after meliponiculture four months. In brief, honey was harvested from boxes with cutting the propolis as the construction in the boxes wall, then the honey was placed in the plastic bottles. Furthermore, honey was squeezed using hand to separated honey from propolis, then honey was measured by graduated cylinders and digital scales. The propolis from pot honey was measured by digital scales after separated from honey.

Statistical analysis

The data of temperature and humidity ambient, honey and propolis production were analyzed by descriptive analysis.


Results and discussion

Temperature and Humidity Ambient

The results showed that the ambient temperature in the Faculty of Animal Science UGM ranged from 23.4 to 35.3oC and the humidity from 41.50 to 85.3% was shown in Figure 1. The temperature and humidity in the Faculty of Animal Science UGM include the normal category that required by honeybees or stingless bees to well developed to optimize the activities in the inside and outside the hive.

Figure 1. The temperature and humidity ambient in the Faculty of Animal Science UGM

The honeybees must be keeping the body temperature under lethal temperature about 45oC and when their flight the minimum thorax temperature is 27oC for stable flight. The environment temperature required by the bees to collect food is ranged from 5 to 45oC and if under or above it, decrease the activities of honeybees and even until its death (Abrol 2011). The honeybees can keep the temperature their nest that contains pupae about 35oC (Tautz 2008), 32 to 36oC (Becher et al 2009; Tautz et al 2003). The temperature and humidity in the study (Figure 1) were similar reported by Agussalim (2015) for meliponiculture stingless bee Trigona sp (Tetragonula sp) with temperature 26 to 35oC and humidity 46 to 60%.

Honey Production

Honey from the stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was stored in the honey pot, where the pot is made from propolis (Figure 2). The results showed that the honey production by stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps in the hives was characterized by the formation of 2 to 3 honey pots and filled with honey require 3 to 4 days after domesticated from bamboo to box. The pot was filled by honey was influenced by the forager’s number (workers), activity foragers to collect nectar from plant flowers (Figure 2) to produce honey. The nectar was secreted by nectaries glands from calliandra flowers were yellow colored. In the Figure 2a could be seen foragers from stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps when collect nectar from calliandra flowers.

Figure 2. The forager Tetragonula laeviceps when collecting nectar in calliandra flowers (a)
and the nest structure from Tetragonula laeviceps in the hive (b)

The results showed that the honey production from the stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was varied between the boxes. Production of honey ranged from 60 to 263 ml (79.2 to 328 g) with the mean 176 ml (223 g) for four months meliponiculture (Table 1). The difference of honey production in each box was influenced by the different number of workers, the productivity of the queen bee for laying. The production of honey from stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was supported by the plant types as the source of nectar were calliandra, bananas, mangoes, chicory, sunflowers, tamarind, catappa, indigofera, kapok, syzygium, alfalfa, kepel, start fruit, bilimbi, matoa, water apple, guava, lemon, gliricidia, chili, caimito, rambutan, and canarium. Production of honey in the study (Table 1) was differ from those previously reported (Agussalim et al 2017; Agussalim 2015) for stingless bee Trigona sp (Tetragonula sp). The difference of honey production is influenced by the different bees species that involved in honey production, geographical origins related temperature and humidity, plant types as the nectar source (da Silva et al 2016), and the activity rate to collect nectar from plant flowers by foragers.

Table 1. Honey and raw propolis production by stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps for four months meliponiculture

Boxes

Honey Production

Raw Propolis
Production (g)

Volume (ml)

Weight (g)

1

135

173

36.4

2

82

110

76.3

3

230

296

69.8

4

100

122

15.4

5

220

282

55.6

6

260

327

61.6

7

263

328

59.2

8

190

244

46.6

9

230

294

67.7

10

243

313

63.1

11

160

200

36.7

12

215

270

47.8

13

130

162

33.6

14

140

175

33.8

15

170

211

48.7

16

213

273

72.0

17

81

97.5

37.0

18

240

299

77.2

19

60

79.2

36.0

20

162

205

37.6

Total

3,524

4,461

1,012.1

Mean

176

223

50.6

Propolis Production

The results showed that the propolis in stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was produce on the first day after domesticated from bamboos to boxes. Propolis was made from resins/balsams 45 to 55%, waxes and fatty acids 25 to 35%, essential oils 10%, pollen 5%, other organics and minerals 5% (Cherbuliez 2013). In stingless bees, propolis was used to made pots for storage honey and pollen, to construct their nest and entrance, to balm and smoth the walls, and to make brood cell (Michener 2013; Cherbuliez 2013). In addition, propolis used by honeybees or stingless bees as an anti-infectious agent to inhibits fungal and microbial growth in the hive and to mummify killed invading animals in the hive (Cherbuliez 2013; Bankova et al 2003).

The results showed that the propolis production from the stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was varied between the boxes. Propolis from honey pot stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was dark colored (Figure 3b). Production of propolis from the honey pots was ranged from 15.4 to 77.2 g for four months meliponiculture. Production of propolis from honey pot was influenced by the foragers number (workers), the active rate of foragers to collect resin from living plants, and the availability of living plants as the source of resin. The banana fruits and mango stalks or branches as the source of resins in the Faculty of Animal Science UGM. In Figure 3a showed forager Tetragonula laeviceps when collecting resin from young banana fruits.

Figure 3. The foragers Tetragonula laeviceps when collecting resin from banana fruit (a)
and the raw propolis from Tetragonula laeviceps honey pot

Propolis production of stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was positive correlate with honey production where the regression equation: Y = 21.562 + 0.165 X (R2 = 0.368 and Sig. 005) which means that 36.8% propolis production was affected by honey production (in volume), while 63.2% was affected by the other factors. Furthermore, the regression equation Y = 20.765 + 0.134 X (R2 = 0.391 and Sig. 0.003) which means that 39.1% propolis production was affected by honey production (in weight), while 60.9% was affected by the other factors might be the availability of resin from plants, the foragers number and the activity level of foragers to collect resin.

Production of propolis in the study (Table 1) was differ from those previously reported (Agussalim et al 2015; Agussalim 2015) for stingless bee Trigona sp (Tetragonula sp). In the Faculty of Animal Science UGM, the stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps was roles as the pollinator agents for some plants as the animal fed were calliandra, chicory, various grass species, indigofera, alfalfa, and gliricidia so improve and increasing their productivity and biodiversity of the plants (production and seeds fertile). Thus, in the future is required the advanced research about the roles of stingless bee Tetragonula laeviceps on the plant’s pollination.


Conclusions


Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Directorate of Research and Community Service, Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia for financial support of the research through Penelitian Terapan Unggulan Perguruan Tinggi (PTUPT), Penelitian Disertasi Doktor (PDD).


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