05 February 2010

Beesy in Singapore!

According to hymenopterist, John Lee, there are three common species of honeybees in Singapore. One is the common Asian honeybee, Apis cerana, a species that deserve more attention and study as it is more resistant to diseases than the European honeybee, Apis mellifera.

The inch-long giant honeybee, Apis dorsata (pictured above), builds combs that can exceed a metre. This aggressive species nests high in trees, and so is rarely encountered by humans. Its honey, however, is highly sought after and collected by local communities in many parts of Asia, who use smoke or fire to deflect the hive’s defenders.

Common even in residential areas, the dwarf honeybee (Apis andreniformis, pictured on the right) is relatively less aggressive than other bees and is not well studied.

Wild they may be, these bees may offer hope for people who love honey. For European honeybees are currently suffering from a severe disease called Colony Collapse Disorder, which threatens the welfare of beekeepers as well as the producers of many crops that rely on the bees to pollinate their flowers. The genetic diversity that exists in wild honeybees and allows them to resist infections fatal to domestic counterparts could prove vital in helping to ensure the survival of honeybees and their prized combs.

Xylocopa latipes, one of the world's largest bees.

Big but not bad: Carpenter bees of Singapore

Looking like oversized bumblebees, carpenter bees are solitary insects often seen hovering by flowering shrubs such as the Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum).

Gentle giants that rarely sting, and with much less pain than a honeybee, these robust insects use their jaws to construct nesting burrows in wood, hence the name, carpenter bees. Three species occur in Singapore: the humongous Xylocopa latipes (possibly the world’s largest bee), Xylocopa confusa, which has black females and hairy, gold males, and Xylocopa caerulea with its brilliant blue thorax.


Anonymous said...

Happy Beesy in Singapore.
I would like to suggest that we study another Trigona species, the Trigona biroi which is "Asian" in character.
It is a stingless bee; its products comprise not only honey but bee pollen and propolis as well.
Let's share knowledge. Thank you.
Mr. Sim

ria said...

Thanks for dropping by Mr Sim, and for sharing your idea!

John has a page about stingless bees on his website: http://vespa-bicolor.net/main/social-bees/stingless.htm.

They are indeed fascinating animals!

kairin said...


are there any known bee keepers in singapore?

i was watching the last beekeeper the other day and its kind of depressing that these creatures are dying in large number in the US...

Lesster Leow said...

Hi John,
I like your contribution with regards to bees in Singapore. I am a Singaporean living in Uganda. I am a beekeeper and am keeping the African species, apis meliferra scutellatas. Glad I came to your site.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across your site. Very informative. I have just moved to Singapore and I am interested in starting to keep bees. As I am new to the bee keeping world I was hoping you could let me know if there are currently any associations or keepers based here in Singapore?

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