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Stingless bee honey – a rare variety of honey

Stingless bee honey – a rare variety of honey

Stingless bee honey or Puttu honey, what is so special ?

Well, let me put it this way. Stingless bee honey is a very rare variety of honey and it is very difficult to get. The next question is, why is it rare? To know this we need to look at different aspects of the bees and which species of these collect this honey and then look at why this honey is so special. We will divide this into two segments. One is the bees themselves and their specialty, and the second is the quality of honey and where they build the honeycombs. These two are very significant. It’s nature’s phenomena at work and the intricacies of energy that is in play.

Stingless bees

About the special bees – Stingless Bees

As the name suggests, the Stingless bees, sometimes called stingless honey bees or simply meliponines, are a large group of bees (about 550 described species), comprising the tribe Meliponini. They belong to the family Apidae and are closely related to common honey bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees, and bumblebees. Meliponines have stingers, but they are highly reduced and cannot be used for their defense, though these bees exhibit other defensive behaviors and mechanisms. Meliponines are not the only type of “stingless” bee; all-male bees and many female bees of several other families, such as Andrenidae, also cannot sting.

Stingless bees can be found in most tropical or subtropical regions of the world, such as Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and tropical America.

In India, they are found abundantly in South India, especially in the Western Ghats region.

The stingless bees have enlarged areas on their back legs for carrying pollen to their respective hives. After a foraging expedition, these pollen baskets or corbiculae can be seen stuffed full of bright orange or yellow pollen. Stingless bees also collect nectar, which they store in an extension of their gut called a crop. Back at the hive, the bees ripen or dehydrate the nectar droplets by spinning them inside their mouthparts until honey is formed. Ripening concentrates the nectar and increases the sugar content, though it is not nearly as concentrated as the honey from true honey bees; it is much thinner in consistency, and more prone to spoiling.

Although the colony sizes of most of these bees are much smaller than those of the European honey bee, the per-bee productivity can be quite high, with colonies containing fewer than a thousand bees being able to produce up to 4 liters of honey every year.

Nesting Place

As the name “Puttu” (Mud hive in Tamizh) suggests, this honeycomb is found in the lower reaches of the ground. As these bees cannot sting, their best chances of survival are to build their combs deep inside crevices – inside a tree trunk, inside termite mud or deep burrows, etc. Their colony is relatively small in size as compared to an average honeycomb. 

Significance of the nest

Most of the Stingless bee honey that is harvested is found deeply rooted in the inside layers or crevices of termite mud. Before we talk about honey, we have to discuss the significance of termite mud (Puttu). It has enormous health significance. Right from aiding in digestion to improving the skin, the benefits are numerous. We will discuss the health benefits in detail in the next blog. But for now, we will discuss the significance of the mud. 

Termite Mound Stingless Bee Honey

Earth Element

According to Ayurveda, our body is made up of five essential elements-earth, water, air, fire, and ether. Mud, clay (or earth), can heal the body from the inside and correct any imbalance. It contains a lot of vital minerals which fight the bad toxins in the body. Since it has so many health benefits, it can also treat many chronic health problems and cure ailments as well. The earth element is related to the growth and development of tissues, muscles, bones, teeth, and fats. The earth makes up most of mamsa (muscle), meda (fat), and asthi (bone) of the seven dhatus. But also, each dhatu needs some amount of earth element for its form to hold.

So when the bees build their nest inside the crevices of these muddy layers, their honey imbibes the quality of the earth element. When the honey is consumed, the earth element directly gets absorbed into the blood. This is the reason, this Puttu honey or Stingless bee honey is highly potent. These bees which are relatively small compared to the traditional European bees, forage the nectar from very tiny flowers which are closer to the surface of the earth. Some of these flowers have very high anti-inflammation properties which aid in quick healing.

As we all know our body gets the earth element through the food we eat. But most of it is first digested and goes through several processes before the nutrients are absorbed by the blood. But in the case of Puttu honey, honey being closest to blood gets absorbed thereby transferring all the energy directly. This is the reason, this honey is highly potent and has innumerable medicinal properties. Due to the above reasons, Ayurveda and Siddha medicinal concoctions prefer using Puttu honey compared to any other honey as the vitality of these medicines is much stronger than otherwise and aid in healing faster.

Rare Commodity

As mentioned above, since the comb is built very close to the earth’s surface, it is highly vulnerable to predators like honey badgers and bears which feast on honey. Unlike regular honey bees, which build their comb very high in the mountain cliffs or tree branches, these are relatively easy to access once they find them out. These stingless honey bees are also very sensitive to temperatures and a slight dip in temperature or increase in moisture value can adversely affect the flying capacity and production of honey. 

How do I know whether this is a pure Stingless bee honey

It is a very valid question, as at the outset all honey looks and tastes somewhat the same. Although there are traditional methods to find the purity of honey, it still does not answer the question. There is only one answer and that is, knowing the source and trusting the brand is the only way to make sure you are getting the pure Puttu honey. This honey will be a bit sour compared to other forms of honey.

At Let’sLive we give you the source of our honey and the people involved in harvesting this particular honey. We go to great lengths to ascertain the purity of the product. One of our personnel is present for every batch that is harvested and filtered.

Nutritional value of Puttu honey

Name Amount  Unit
Energy 356 Kcal
Protein 8.89 g
Total lipid (fat) 3.33 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 75.56 g
Fiber, total dietary 2.2 g
Sugars 0 g
Calcium 0 g
Iron 2.4 mg
Sodium 0 mg
Fatty acids, total saturated 0 g
Fatty acids, total trans 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg

About Let’sLive

Let’sLive is a social empowerment enterprise committed to enhancing and improving the livelihoods of tribal and farming communities. We work directly with small-scale farmers so that our customers can get access to products that are natural, pristine, and picked from the lap of nature. We encourage and provide advice for practicing ethical farming and eco-friendly methods to all those who partner with us.

At Let’sLive we are passionate about bringing in 100% all-natural and healthy products directly from the farming and tribal communities to your doorstep like Pure Raw HoneyTraditional kinds of rice, etc. We want our consumers to enjoy and have direct access to the products that are pristine and picked directly from the lap of nature. The mandates by which we operate are:
* Value every life around us by encouraging ethical farming
* Leverage local knowledge and promote legacy harvesting practices with high hygienic standards
* No preservatives or artificial processing on any of our products
* Each product can be traced to its origins and the people involved in its making
* Educate consumers on the importance of consuming rich and natural local produce

References

  1. Wikipedia – Stingless_bee
  2. The smallest honeybee hive – Interview with Dr. Chama Inson
        YouTube – @skyfood – Edible Insects