IN ITS aim to promote potential livelihoods that likewise banner good nutrition and health, the Cordillera Regional Apiculture Center-Benguet State University (CRAC-BSU) now ventures on the management of stingless bees, the native bee species abundant in the region.

Locally known as “lukutan”, the stingless bee species present in the region is Tetragonula laeviceps and Tetragonula biroi. The CRAC is currently keeping 25 colonies of stingless bees in its apiary and in BSU Forest nursery located at Barangay Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet.

The management of stingless bees, otherwise called as meliponiculture, is rarely practiced in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and even the province of Benguet where the most number of beekeepers are found. Therefore, the center plans to produce honey from the said species to jumpstart its introduction.

According to Leo Kimbungan, CRAC staff, utilizing the stingless bees that are native in CAR and different parts of the country would help raise community awareness on the vital role of bees in the environment while promising livelihoods that is viable in the locality. However, he pointed out that the efficiency of stingless bees in the production of honey and propolis are yet to be disseminated. “This species of bee is not common to beekeepers, thus, only a few keep this bee. Sometimes, you can only find a colony or two of this species that is just added to apiaries,” he said. Kimbungan has been operating the center’s apiary for three years now. Honey from stingless bees is different from that of the popular honey produced by the honeybee species such that of Apis Mellifera, the European bee commonly utilized by the beekeeper.

Incorporating meliponiculture to apiculture would give additional livelihood to the communities that would likewise boost up the production of honey products and by-products. Kimbungan recalled what Paquito Untalan, former director of CRAC, has stated, “if meliponiculture is complimented to apiculture, both would create a wave that would engage communities into potential livelihoods.”

While stingless bee honey has no market in Cordillera at present, its “demand would soon rise” Untalan envisioned last year. “Stingless bee honey could have its market demand in the coming years if beekeepers incorporate this species to their practice,” Kimbungan also hoped. He cited that places like Bicol, Batangas, Quezon Province and other regions that keep commercial meliponiculture established the market of their honey products which is twice the price of honey bee honey.

Kimbungan added that the management of native species such as stingless bees could further raise public awareness on the importance of these insects in biodiversity and crop production as it plays a crucial role in pollination of many flower-bearing plants. While, it is not yet explored in the region, he noted that dissemination of stingless bee management is being initiated by the center in every possible means such as during university exhibits to soon cater beekeepers, individuals and organizations interested to engage in the practice. CRAC conducts its beekeeping training and apiary technical assistance as its extension program where stingless bees are likewise introduced.