Ian and I had a chance to visit Trigona Bar at Four Seasons KL, where we tried the mixed drinks with Trigona honey in it. That was the first time I heard for Trigona honey, and honestly, I couldn’t believe that the table decorations are their hives. So, now I would like to share with you some amazing facts about stingless bees and their unusual honey. In Malaysia, we visited Dino Kelulut stingless bee farm, where we met the Trigona stingless bees in person.
- What is Trigona Honey?
- Health Benefits of Stingless Bee Honey
- Can Diabetics Eat Trigona Honey?
- Where Can I Buy Stingless Bee Honey?
- Know This Before You Buy Trigona Honey
- Dino Kelulut Trigona Honey
- Facts About Stingless Bees
- Is Trigona Bee Dangerous?
- Final Thought
What is Trigona Honey?
Trigona honey is also known as stingless bee honey or as they say in Malaysia, “Madu Kelulut.” The bee species collecting the Trigona stingless bee honey is small (smaller than the fly) and they can reach so-called “hard to get” corners. All the goodies bring back to the hive, they seal in strange-looking storage pots. Really, they are like a landscape of a mystery planet!
Stingless bee honeycomb is special also because of high propolis presence in the “walls”. Once the honey is sealed inside the storage pots, it is exposed to that healing building material. Through the waxy cell wall, the Trigona honey gets infused with propolis in its natural environment. That gives Trigona honey numerous healing properties and pleasingly sharp taste. Additionally, Trigona honey has more nutrients and is extraordinarily antibacterial. Well, at least that is true for the honey known to us so far.
Tasting Stingless Bee Honey
I must admit, stingless bee honey surprised me in every possible way. At first, it looks like very runny honey, but there is more to it than that. Once I got the rich aroma into my nose, its amber-like liquid became irresistible. The heavenly scent got everything; from fruity notes like red grapes, fresh citruses to even florals with resinous sweetness and of course, pollen.
After sniffing the stingless bee honey, I was ready for the tasting. First came, the obvious lack of sweetness. There is this distinctive sour taste, which makes everything pleasantly refreshing. To be more specific about the taste of Trigona honey, I can say it has a luscious tangy taste. Although when diluted in water, honey became completely different and more berry-like. Funny fact – you will never get the same taste of this honey. We were trying it from about 10 hives in the same area and not even two of them tasted the same. Every colony has its favorite pollen out there.
Health Benefits of Stingless Bee Honey
We all know that honey is healthy, but do you know that Trigona honey is a real superfood? Real Trigona honey is twice as nutritious as real honeybee’s (Apis) honey and it contains only about 20% of sugar. Compare that low sugar to ordinary honey, which has up to 80% sugar level. That is why Trigona honey is beneficial even to diabetics.
Every type of real honey has proven to be beneficial for skin disorders. Worth knowing is the fact that stingless bee honey kills up to 83% of bacteria! In addition to that Trigona honey also contains metabolites that help with digestion. By now we know how important digestion is when it comes to health. Many studies proved that the long-term consumption of various types of real honey is most beneficial to the body.
List of Trigona Stingless Bee Honey Benefits
- Strong antioxidant; fights free radicals and reduces inflammation and infections
- Boosts the immune system
- Heals burns and wounds by stimulating tissue regeneration
- Antimicrobial; proven to kill 83% of bacteria
- Anti-inflammatory; heals inflammations and infections
- Prevents and treats colds, cough, respiratory illnesses
- Improves the body’s metabolism
- Improves cognitive deﬁcits and brain damage
- Treats eye inflammations
- Clears acne and moisturizes the skin
List of Nutrients in Stingless Bee Honey
Before getting into the stingless honey composition keep in mind that honey structure differs with collected pollen and origins.
Vitamins in Trigona Honey:
- Vitamin A; promotes good eyesight, keeps bones and teeth healthy and supports the immune system.
- Vitamin B; is important in maintaining good health in many ways. It affects the energy level, brain function, and cell metabolism.
- Vitamin C; boosts the immune system and protects cells from free radicals. Vitamin C is also necessary for the body’s natural collagen synthesis.
- Vitamin D; helps absorb calcium, regulates cell growth, and takes part in communication between cells.
- Vitamin E; protects the heart and blood vessels, prevents inflammation, and supports healthy skin.
Minerals in Trigona Honey:
- Potassium; helps to reduce blood pressure, sends nerve signals and regulates muscle contractions, functioning as an electrolyte.
- Zinc; is necessary for cell’s growth and division, which affects growth and development. Besides that, zinc is also fundamental to skin health and accelerates wound healing.
- Phosphorus; helps calcium to build the bones and takes part in the body’s energy production.
- Calcium; is essential for strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction and is co-factor for many enzymes. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.
- Magnesium; every cell in the body needs it for normal functioning and DNA and RNA repair. Magnesium helps fight depression since it takes part in brain function and mood.
- Sulfur; the body needs it for insulin production and cell’s detoxing process. It helps to treat acne and helps in collagen and keratin production.
- Copper and iron; both form red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
- Manganese; we need it for normal brain functioning and is a cofactor for many enzymes.
- 17 different amino acids; part of the tissue growth, energy production, and nutrient absorption.
- Flavonoids and phenolic acids; they protect the body from oxidative stress.
Can Diabetics Eat Trigona Honey?
Yes, people with diabetes can eat Trigona honey because of the low sugar content. Even so, keep in mind that a little goes a long way as long the honey is real! As already stated above, Trigona honey has about 20% of sugar, with fructose and glucose being the most abundant. In case if your sugar levels drop it is worth knowing that glucose is easily and quickly converted into energy.
Where Can I Buy Stingless Bee Honey?
Stingless bee honey can be found in South America and Southeast Asia. Because of its volatility, it is hard to send it around the world. Some can’t be shipped across the world without thermal treatment, which ruins many health properties. However, on Amazon.com you might find a few products.
Luckily we found fresh raw Trigona honey in Malaysia. Here, you can find Trigona honey in pharmacy, well-stocked stores and e-stores. Please remember that not all producers are trustworthy! Look for the certificate and trusted producers if you want to get your money worth. Ian and I highly recommend the organic Trigona honey by Dino Kelulut. We witnessed how they treat their stingless bees and Trigona honey. Due to its high quality, Dino Kelulut’s Trigona honey is also used at Four Seasons KL Trigona bar.
Know This Before You Buy Trigona Honey
The high-water content in Trigona honey causes the honey to ferment quickly. This is an excellent opportunity to explore liquid gold by incorporating it into different drinks and gravies. The quick fermentation is problematic when you are buying Trigona Honey because some producers heat the honey to preserve it. Pasteurized honey loses most of the healing properties! Go for raw, certified honey!
Trigona honey business is profitable and as always, some people work only for the money. Those have already come up with many ideas about tricking the consumers. Questions that come to mind are; is this a real thing? Has this bottle of certified Trigona honey been thermally treated before packaging? We heard for a fraud, where people simply mixed ordinary honey with apple cider and sell it as Trigona. Be careful!
Dino Kelulut Trigona Honey
Ian and I were at Dino Kelulut’s beautiful stingless bee farm in Kuala Pilah, where we met Dino and his colleague. Both of them are passionate bee lovers and want to spread knowledge about stingless beekeeping. Afterall bees are incredibly important in the life cycle and contribute to the world much more than honey. That is why we salute all of Dino’s efforts towards saving Malaysian stingless bees.
Not only is the Dino Kelulut business focused on sustainable beekeeping, but he is also organizing different courses on stingless bee topics. Dino is also collaborating with scientists and doctors to find out more about health treatments using stingless bee honey.
Escape Kuala Lumpur for a Day
Dino’s organic stingless bee farm is about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, making it a lovely day trip. If you don’t have time, don’t worry, you can still get some of his precious Trigona honey. Dino has an online business based in Kuala Lumpur from where you can buy high-quality raw Trigona honey from his two bee farms.
Facts About Stingless Bees
Among 25,000 species of bees in the world, only about 500 species are stingless bees or Meliponini. The largest genus of Meliponinies is Trigona species and they make the Trigona honey. All stingless bees live in the tropics and vary in size. Some reach only up to two millimeters, while others can grow bigger than a regular honeybee. Different sizes aren’t the only differences; some stingless bees are known to eat dead meat. Well, they gather it and bring it back to the hive, where worker bees transform it into the honey. This honey is very rare because the bees produce just enough of it to keep the colony going.
Oldest Bees in the World
Stingless bees’ roots reach all the way back to the Pangea times. You know, from millions of years ago, when Earth used to have one single mass-continent.
Serious Threats Facing Stingless Bees
Despite their long history, stingless bees are quite fragile. It is known for some Trigona bees to have structural troubles in the hive’s walls. If the temperatures drop below 25°C, their eggs don’t hatch but when the hive is exposed to the sun and the temperature gets above 31°C a real catastrophe strikes. That is when their hive starts to melt and drop by drop their food is gone.
The second real threat is the loss of their natural habitat due to the growing human population and expanding urban areas ending in deforestation. Then is another manmade problem; the introduction of European Honey Bees into the wild. As if growing cities weren’t enough, the profit chasing people started to take care only for the imported honeybees. They are bigger bees, which produce up to 30kg of honey per-hive-a-year, while honey production of Trigona bee is 500g per-hive-a-year. As you already know by now, each bee species produces different honey with different benefits. I believe that more is better only when it comes to diversity.
How do Stingless Bees Defend Their Honey?
In the wild, stingless bees keep their honey safe in hollow tree trunks. The thick layer of wood all around the hive is not only protecting the colony from predators but also offers some insulation as well. Another bee defending system of stingless bees is at their hive’s entrance. Let’s call it “the bridge.”
Most obvious is the size of the tube, which grows with the colony’s new generations. This lengthy advantage keeps the stingless bee hive safe from lizards and other predators. The second layer of defense is the group of warrior bees who guard the gate and fight with all their strength. Basically, they sacrifice their lives in order to protect their colony. Also interesting is the poisonous way for the walking attackers which came that far.
Is Trigona Bee Dangerous?
S Some species are more aggressive than others. Some bite while others cut with their wings through the hair like a tiny free-style hairdresser. Bees are smart and will attack the soft spots like eyes and lips, so don’t get all cute on them. Please save the stingless bees when they start to tickle you. That happens when a stingless bee gets tangled into your body hair and starts shaking its tiny body to divert your attention. If you freak out, all you need to do is stay calm and they will leave you alone soon enough. Or after you are done stealing their honey.
By now you know that there are many different kinds of mouth-watering types of honey out there, even more than the number of bee species. Stingless bee honey is relatively new in the modern world, where pharmaceuticals “rule” the health issues. Funny enough, people’s health has never been worse, but the same goes for wildlife. When will we realize that humans can’t function without pristine nature? I also can’t go past the question; “why should we?” Mother Nature’s gifts are beyond amazing and some spices can do more than just keep the machine going.
Stingless bee honey is poorly researched even though it was often used by the old civilizations and is still used by the indigenous people. Up to this day, we don’t know so many things and despite that, we are willing to light the Amazon rainforest on fire and let it burn freely. It’s fine, as long as it’s not Notre Dame!
Zulkhairi Amin, Fatin & Sabri, Suriana & Mohammad, Salma Malihah & Ismail, Maznah & Chan, Kim Wei & Ismail, Norsharina & ME, Norhaizan & Zawawi, Norhasnida. (2018). Therapeutic Properties of Stingless Bee Honey in Comparison with European Bee Honey. Advances in Pharmacological Sciences. 2018. 12. 10.1155/2018/6179596.