Other types of gaining bee products, including honey hunting and meliponiculture

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Besides the worldwide known beekeeping, there are also other ways of gaining bee products in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Ethiopia: The country provides a rich flora and suitable ecological conditions for not only hived, but also for feral bee colonies (e. g. A. mellifera, Meliponinii). Thus, "honey hunting" from feral A. mellifera or stingless bee colonies is a common practice in Ethiopia. Honey hunters trace and rob wild honey bee colonies to make profit out of their products. [1] [2] It has to be mentioned, that traditional honey hunting is no sustainable way to obtain honey bee products, which led to the decrease of feral stingless bee species not only in Ethiopia but also in Africa. [3] [4] Besides honey hunting and classical beekeeping, there is a third apicultural activity called "bee maintaining" which is defined as an intermediary stage of beekeeping, where humans guard wild living colonies and provide artificial nesting sites. [5] In Ethiopia, there exists "forest beekeeping" which is the utilization of feral honey bee colonies (A. mellifera) as a resource without manipulating it. Honey collectors provide traditional nesting sites made of local available materials and harvest honey and beeswax one to two times per year. The provided nesting sites are placed in trees and the beekeeper has no influence on the quantity of the yield nor the harvest time. To increase the honey product yield, the number of nesting sites have to be increased. Focusing on the absence of hive manipulation, forest beekeeping actually may belong to "bee maintaining" instead of classical beekeeping. [6]

Indonesia: Almost every species of honey bees and stingless bees is used for "honey hunting", but in Indonesia the practice is mainly focussed on A. dorsata colonies. [5] [7] A. dorsata is known to build single comb nests and so far, it was not possible to properly manage them. The honey yield of one A. dorsata colony is expected between 5 - 15 kg, while a whole "honey tree" (Sompuat), housing numerous colonies, provides 50 - 300 kg of honey. [8] In some regions of Indonesia, people practice "bee maintaining". There are efforts to attract wild living A. dorsata colonies by setting up tikung/tingku or also called sunggau (wooden planks or tree trunks) at which the migrating bee colonies build their nests. Another word for it is "rafter beekeeping", which is also used in an international perspective. The tikung is usually made from a strong wood to improve its durability and it is often erected in areas of good bee forage availability. To increase the possibility of colonies occupying the tikung, some honey collectors smear beeswax or honey underneath it. Enough open space in front of the structure is highly recommended to offer the colonies a wide entrance/exit range. [9] This method is suggested to be a less dangerous technique to obtain honey than traditional honey hunting. A. dorsata prefers certain tree species over others for their nesting site. Those "honey trees" are usually not owned, but people mark it to signify their ownership of the there nesting bee colonies. Harvesting takes place during the day and one to four people are involved. One person climbs the tree and uses a smoker made of bamboo to calm the bees. People harvest the bee products (mainly wax and honey) by cutting the whole nest off the tikung. [10] [9] To increase the attractiveness for feral honey bee colonies, some natural forests are managed and honey trees are preserved. [11] Honey from A. dorsata is an important product in parts of western Kalimantan. [12]. Another way to gain bee products is the meliponiculture with stingless bees from the genus Trigona. Due to their low honey production, they are mainly used to gain propolis and wax. Trigona are easy to manage, do not require special beekeeping skills, and they can be housed in hollow logs, mud pots, bamboo pits, coconut shells, wooden boxes and pottery vessels. [12] [13]


  1. Fichtl, R., & Adi, A. (1994). Honeybee Flora of Ethiopia. Margraf Verlag Germany.
  2. Gemechis, L. Y. (2016). Honey Production and Marketing in Ethiopia. Agriculture And Biology Journal Of North America, 7(5), 248-253.
  3. Anguilet, E. C. F., Nguyen, B. K., Ndong, T. B., Haubruge, E., & Francis, F. (2015). Meliponini and Apini in Africa (Apidae: Apinae): a review on the challenges and stakes bound to their diversity and their distribution. Biotechnol. Agronom. Soc. Environ., 19(4), 382-391.
  4. Dietemann, V., Pirk, C. W. W, & Crewe, R. (2009). Is there a need for conservation of honeybees in Africa? Apidologie, 40, 285–295.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bradbear, N., & Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). (2009). Bees and their role in forest livelihoods: a guide to the services provided by bees and the sustainable harvesting processing and marketing of their products. FAO, Rome, Non-Wood Forest Products, 19, 1-194.
  6. Lowore, J., Meaton, J., & Wood, A. (2018). African Forest Honey: an Overlooked NTFP with Potential to Support Livelihoods and Forests. Environmental Management, 62, 15–28.
  7. Kahono, S., Chantawannakul, P., & Engel, M. S. (2018). Social Bees and the Current Status of Beekeeping in Indonesia. In book: Asian Beekeeping in the 21st Century. Springer, Singapore. 287-306.
  8. Lahjie, A. M., & Seibert, B. (1990). Honey Gathering by People in the Interior of East Kalimantan. Bee World, 71(4), 153-157.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Hadisoesilo, S. (2002). Tingku - A traditional management technique. Bees for Development Journal, 64, 4-5.
  10. Crane, E., Luyen, V. V., Mulder, V., & Ta, T. C. (1993). Traditional Management System for Apis Dorsata in Submerged Forests in Southern Vietnam and Central Kalimantan. Bee World, 74(1), 27-40.
  11. De Jong, W. (2002). Forest products and local forest management in West Kalimantan, Indonesia: implications for conservation and development. Wageningen: Tropenbos International.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Lubis, M. S., Handayani, N., & Muazir, S. (2009). Eco and cultural tourism development in Danau Sentarum National Park. In 13th World Lake Conference, 1–6.
  13. Gupta, R. K., Reybroeck, W., van Veen, J. W., & Gupta, A. (2014). Beekeeping for Poverty Alleviation and Livelihood Security: Vol. 1: Technological Aspects of Beekeeping. Dordrecht, Springer Netherlands.