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  1. #1
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    Default Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Was interested to know if anyone ever tried this north of the border? Back in the early 70's my uncle in Texas was a professional beekeeper. He took me to see an elderly Mexican gentleman near Brownsville that had a couple hives of stingless bees. Apparently he brought them with him from Mexico back in the 60's. As I recalled the hives seem to be thriving. I don't think they'd do well up north but perhaps in southern Texas or Florida. Just curious.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    What are stingless bees?

    Kingfisher

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Fat bee man in Ga raises about as close as you can get to stingless bees, they still sting if queenless or in really bad weather, but even on overcast days they are really calm.

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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    That's fascinating- I had no idea of these bees' existence.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    i believe they are not to be imported into the US but i could be wrong - some might have them for study use in a University use or something

    would be cool to have - but most times normal honeybees might as well be stingless

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Making a stingless GMO bee is theoretically possible.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by hipbee View Post
    Fat bee man in Ga raises about as close as you can get to stingless bees, they still sting if queenless or in really bad weather, but even on overcast days they are really calm.
    Indeed FatBeeman's bees are very gentle- I have two hives of his bees installed just a few days ago here in NY. During installation they were just so sweet. However, I did go in to check the queen cages and syrup without smoke yesterday and I guess i fussed around a bit too long and one of the girls zapped me one right on the knee! I deserved it though. I figure I'll never get arthritis in that knee now. I'll have to do the other knee to even it up.

    Quote Originally Posted by concrete-bees View Post
    i believe they are not to be imported into the US but i could be wrong...
    I would certainly agree it would likely be against the law to import a new species of bee into the U.S....and rightly so!
    But the whole concept of them is fascinating and wonderful, I love the traditional/folklore aspect of it.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Sorry. I just assumed that everyone here would know about the family of Stingless bees collectively know as Melipona. They are commercially raised by Beekeepers in many parts of the world, from Asia, Africa, Australia and much of South and Central America. They occur naturally as far North as Central Mexico. Their lifecycle and habits are very similar to European Honeybees and they produce usable Honey, Wax and pollen. I assume they are also good pollinators and because they can occur in very large colonies like Honeybees, I wonder why you never hear mention of them as a possible alternative to replace honeybees in crop pollination? They are tropical species but I did see them doing well in south Texas all those years ago. Below are some YouTube videos and websites talking about these little bees. Fascinating, check them out on the web. Hadn't thought about trying to import them. I'm sure that would be a Red-Tape nightmare. I was wondering if any members on the Beesource forum had experience with them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEh6n...os=KyhMfYL88Mo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eg8Z...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KNY1...os=az9T-UPaoZc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJMEj...eature=related

    http://eco.ib.usp.br/beelab/pdfs/COR...oniculture.pdf

    http://www.sugarbag.net/hives/

    http://www.imkerei.com/articles/us/fert/nicaragua.htm

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by ehallspqr View Post
    Sorry. I just assumed that everyone here would know about the family of Stingless bees collectively know as Melipona. They are commercially raised by Beekeepers in many parts of the world, from Asia, Africa, Australia and much of South and Central America. They occur naturally as far North as Central Mexico. Their lifecycle and habits are very similar to European Honeybees and they produce usable Honey, Wax and pollen. I assume they are also good pollinators and because they can occur in very large colonies like Honeybees, I wonder why you never hear mention of them as a possible alternative to replace honeybees in crop pollination? They are tropical species but I did see them doing well in south Texas all those years ago. Below are some YouTube videos and websites talking about these little bees. Fascinating, check them out on the web. Hadn't thought about trying to import them. I'm sure that would be a Red-Tape nightmare. I was wondering if any members on the Beesource forum had experience with them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEh6n...os=KyhMfYL88Mo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eg8Z...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KNY1...os=az9T-UPaoZc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJMEj...eature=related

    http://eco.ib.usp.br/beelab/pdfs/COR...oniculture.pdf

    http://www.sugarbag.net/hives/

    http://www.imkerei.com/articles/us/fert/nicaragua.htm
    I am also looking for the stingless bees in USA, I saw a website listed they are native in Virginia, but i think they mixed them up with Solitary bees.
    I have five hives here in Thailand of the Trigona Pagdeni species and hope to spilt them into ten by next year. They are amazing and friendly, not for honey as much as pollination and a fun pet. They are in Mexico, so i think we must have some along the southern border states. Japan allows their import for pollination in Greenhouses and since it's also a cold climate maybe we could get the USA to let them come in for the same purpose. The pollinate less then the honey bee but like many more types of flowers and also many of the smaller types of flowers which the imported European bees dont like. I wonder how many bees species we have lost over they are in the USA and how the European bee importation changed the plant species in the States, from what was a native to now be considered non native. Hmm! Please more info on the subjects. I found a tiny amount of info about stingless bees in California and Kansas, Can anyone find more info. My bees live on my porch in Thailand and are more protected, when they swarm then its time to move in a new hive, they swarm when the hive is full so bigger hive and slower to grow. smaller hive and faster to move, I have seen all sizes of hives from tubes of Bamboo, which fill up fast to large 30cmx30cm x 25 of about 1 ft x 1ft by 10in, which takes a year or more. I collected one pint from one hive which was growing naturally in a speaker, and i left a lot of the honey as i dint want to disturb them too much, i moved half the eggs and some pollen and honey into a new hive and now i have two hives, that's how they are spilt. Send you questions and i am happy to help and please send me more info as i hope to locate some in the state to try and use inside a green house in the usa.
    Because of their small size ad smaller range they are perfectly happy inside greenhouses as long as they have flowers to pollinate.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    You guys won't find them in the US & its illegal to import them. That's how disease & parasites get moved around.
    The ones in south America are slowly being moved out by the african bees. I hear the ones in Asia produce very small honey crops.
    Dan

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by KQ6AR View Post
    You guys won't find them in the US & its illegal to import them. That's how disease & parasites get moved around.
    The ones in south America are slowly being moved out by the african bees. I hear the ones in Asia produce very small honey crops.
    Hi Dan, Thanks for the response, I thought it might be illiegal, do they have any reasons you can import them, IE research... I have heard of them naturally livinig in Texas, the nest in the ground varieties, so wanted to find some one who dug one out and sucessfully box them and has been keeping them. Maybe this was years ago though. I want them for more research in a greenhouse environment, Keeping honey bees in a green house has many prblem with failure but these type do very well since they are only 5-8,000 bees per hive. Yes honey is only about 1 liter max a year so it is not honey i am wanting them for but the pollination indoors and their health and strength (most sicknesses dont effect them) and the bonus lack of stinging, they have bit me before and doesnt hurt so that's not a fear either.. They are imported under special permission into temperate climate of Japan, for indoor polination only. They do not collect any honey from them as they need it to survive the cold months and then they are only imported into greenhouses in Japan and dont survive outside, as to prevent any disease or contamination. so i wondered if we have any laws about indoor use only or something, Any clauses like for reasearch or lopeholes, like our tax laws. LOL!! I saw some college and universities had them for research. I guess the only one way to find some then is to locate someone who has them in the US already and go from there since its a problem to import them. Have you heard of anyone with them in the south western states?

    So my goal is to find some of them which are native and already living in the USA, dont want solitary or mason bees but i may try some, also going with the Italian honey bees but not now, this will be a future endevour so i have time to try and find someone who has them. Sine i still live in Thailand with my stingless bees here. Just created another hive from a natural one and hope they take it tomorrow, Will see in the morning if its a success. It's like we have European and African bees already in the USA but we wont let the Asian and Mexicans in.. Punny! LOL
    Last edited by ThaiRockShop; 03-31-2013 at 11:51 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    I didn't know about the bees in Texas that's interesting. In the United States bumble bees are often used in greenhouses.
    Dan

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    ThaiRockShop. This is a old Thread but I thought I would mention that I have found no Stingless bees for sale in The USA. That's not to say they aren't here. There are several universities that are studying them as possible greenhouse pollinators, much like the research that is going on in Japan. It is interesting to read about the Japanese research with these species of social bees. So far the breeding and use as greenhouse pollinators has been very successful in that country. It has moved from the laboratory to commercial applications in only 5 short years. I believe they obtained their seed colonies from Australian stingless bee-keepers who call their species "SugarBag" bees". These are the smaller variety, Trigona carbonaria. Australia has a large network of Stingless bee Apiaries that sell hives, just like Honeybee apiaries in the USA. You can find all sorts of information about Sugarbag bees as well as the Japanese study online.

    The larger variety of stingless bees, (Melipona) are used commercially in Mexico as a source of Honey, wax and pollination. There are 46 species in Mexico of which 19 are used commercially. These bees are kept in large apiaries throughout southern Mexico however their natural range extends northwards to southern Baja. Brownsville Texas where I saw stingless bee colonies is actually quite far south, about the same latitude as southern Baja. Besides the Stingless bees I also saw all sorts of other weird species of bees and wasps that I have never seen anywhere else in the USA, even bug infested Florida. Being that the stingless bees are a semi-tropical species and cannot survive in the wild at more northern latitudes there is little risk of ecological imbalance with native species of bees. Unlike the African bee disaster. I wouldn't be surprised in the not to distant future, to see them available to USA greenhouse growers, much like Bumblebee colonies are now.

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/...ype=blogs&_r=0

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by ehallspqr View Post
    The larger variety of stingless bees, (Melipona) are used commercially in Mexico as a source of Honey, wax and pollination. There are 46 species in Mexico of which 19 are used commercially.
    Hi,

    You should be interested to know that here in Brazil we have plenty of species of stingless bees, both Trigonini and Melipona. There are about 300 species already identified, and from 25 to 30 are already used for honey production, pollination or just for fun. Some of them live in the south of the contry, and thus are adapted to moderately low temperatures, as low as -5 or -6°C for short periods (see following images). Probably theses species could be adapted to a wider range in US the territory.

    NEVASCA+23+JULHO+2013+072.jpg

    NEVASCA+23+JULHO+2013+037.jpg

    There are an active market of these bees, with authorized breeders selling swarms by mail. Depending on the species the cost can vary from about 25 to 200 US$. I just received my first swarm of Melipona Quadrifasciata and installed it in the balcony of my third floor apartment in a decorated box (see image below). They seem to be doing quite well.

    Foto-0210_zpsb9e8c372.jpg

    In the stingless bees topic of Wikipedia you can get more information about the brazilian stingless bees:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingless_bee

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leandrogcard View Post
    Hi,

    You should be interested to know that here in Brazil we have plenty of species of stingless bees, both Trigonini and Melipona. There are about 300 species already identified, and from 25 to 30 are already used for honey production, pollination or just for fun. Some of them live in the south of the contry, and thus are adapted to moderately low temperatures, as low as -5 or -6°C for short periods (see following images). Probably theses species could be adapted to a wider range in US the territory.
    Very interesting reading & photos. Thank you very much for posting them. I did not know that it got the cold in Brazil. I assume that higher elevations where it may get chilly, the bees would be adapted to living in those more moderate climates. If I ever get down to Brazil I will be sure to set aside some time to visit some Brazilian beekeepers.

    I would love to someday be able to buy a stingless bee colony, regardless of species. Unfortunately they are not allowed to be imported into the USA. That may change someday as our honeybee & native bee populations continue their decline.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by ehallspqr View Post
    I would love to someday be able to buy a stingless bee colony, regardless of species. Unfortunately they are not allowed to be imported into the USA. That may change someday as our honeybee & native bee populations continue their decline.
    I believe there would be no trouble if stingless bees themselves were imported to the USA, as they have lived along with honey bees in Latin America for centuries without causing any known problem to them (just by the opposite, they displaced the native stingless bees in many areas). Neither have heard of any disease or parasite that infects both groups of bees, though I can not be totally sure. And even if they form new colonies in the wild, they would not survive the winter in most of the US territory without human assistance.

    And the honey bee is neither an species native of North America after all.

    But I agree some research should be done before imports are liberated, to make sure no problem can really happen. Maybe if the bee researchers in the US knew a little more about the many brazilian stingless bees species they would get motivated to investigate the adaptation of some to the north american environment.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    It is likely the entomology group within the USDA would have to research these. And not sure how you get on their research list. This is the same branch that pulled in the Russian bees and the salvinia weevils. They study biological controls as well (the weevil).

    If they could be researched and studied they might be allowed into the states.
    Started 9/13, building slowly, now @ 7 Lang hives + 5 nucs, and treatment style not decided yet

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by marshmasterpat View Post
    If they could be researched and studied they might be allowed into the states.
    I really think this could be a very interesting research topic for US specialists. I read many people is now installing hives for bumblebees and carpenter bees in order to keep pollination running or just for the pleasure of having some bees around, and the stingless bees could really be a much more interesting choice given their variety and the good honey production of some species.

    There is a lot of research about those bees being done in some Brazilian scientific institutes like USP (São Paulo University) and EMBRAPA (state owned Brazilian agriculture and ranching company). But obviously no one here is evaluating techniques to keep them in cold climates, or the adaptation and risks to US natural environment. Nevertheless, some breeders are successfully keeping species from warm regions like Tiúba (Melipona Compressipes) and True Uruçu (Melipona Scutellaris) in the south of Brazil, where temperatures can get below 0 degrees Celsius for short periods, using electric heaters. The same could be done in the US, maybe allowing to keep the more cold-resistant species even where temperatures can get a lot colder than there.

    With more than 300 species already identified the research of Brazilian stingless bees is a vast field. But American researches could focus on the few species that are found in the more temperate regions of the country, or that have specific features that can help them to adapt to colder environments. I’m not really an specialist, but from my research in the net and contact with some breeders I could suggest the list of species below:

    - Jataí (Tetragonisca Angustula): Small and slender bee, with length about 5mm. Very adaptable, using all flowers available to collect pollen and nectar. Being so small it cannot resist to very low temperatures, and usually will only leave the hive if temperature is above 12 to 15 degrees (always Celsius), but colonies can survive to temperatures below 0°C in a dormant state for a period of a few weeks. The adult individuals can survive to temperatures about 0 degrees, but the larvae will die if temperature inside the nest gets lower than 15 degrees, so the hive must be provided with a heating system, similar to those used in tropical fish tanks. Colonies can have over 3.000 bees, and will produce from 0,5 to 0,75 liters of honey a year (1,5 in exceptional cases, if nest conditions are suitable, weather is adequate and flowers are available). In cold regions they can be artificially fed during the winter, with pots of food placed inside the hive. Their honey has 10 times the amount of antibiotic substances than the Apis genus honey, and is thus considered to have medicinal properties. The species is defensive, and can nip with their jaws if the hive is molested, but they are not strong enough to cause any pain and in practice are harmless.
    bbf6ac29314b5fc4a67b377447253d47.jpg


    -Manduri (Melipona Marginata): Small bee measuring about 7mm in length. Their colonies are quite small, with only about 300 bees, which makes it indicated to be kept inside small glasshouses as pollinators. It is not very exigent about the flowers to visit either. Despite the small size of their colonies, each one can produce from 1,5 to 2 liters of honey a year (and up to 3 liters in special conditions), so it is probably the most productive bee in the world considering the individual productivity. As the Jataí, the Manduri can survive to moderate low temperatures, provided the nest has a heating system. But will only leave the hive in environment temperatures above 12 to 15 degrees. If honey is not harvested probably the colonies can survive the winter, otherwise artificial food must be provided. Although not aggressive, will react if the nest is molested, nipping strongly and not releasing their jaws until death. They can cause a little pain but no important injuries to humans. Anyway, it is recommended some protection to manipulate the nest for honey harvesting or other purposes.
    manduri.jpg


    -Mandaçaia (Melipona Quadrifasciata): Probably the tamest of all stingless bees, this medium sized bee which reaches about 11 mm in length is reasonably well adapted to low temperatures, starting to harvest pollen and nectar as soon as environment temperature rises above 5 to 6 degrees. Hives made of thick wood (4 to 5 centimeters) do not need heating if lowest environment temperature don’t go below -10 degrees for too long (not more than a few weeks). Colony size varies from 500 to 600 individuals, and can produce 2 to 3 liters of honey a year (4 liters in exceptional conditions). They are so peaceful the nest can be manipulated without protection even by small kids. On the other hand, the species is somewhat picky with respect to the flowers it will visit, preferring the flora of its original environment in Brazilian east coast, and there’s not much data about its adaptation to other plant species. Probably will do well with flowers from trees like apple and peach, but this must be tested for confirmation.
    manda%u0025C3%u0025A7aia.jpg


    - Guaraipo (Melipona Bicolor): Also a very tame species, the Guaraipo can reach about 10mm in length and its nest can be manipulated without any protection. It is not as exigent as the Mandaçaia regarding the flowers to visit, and can also collect pollen and nectar in temperatures as low as 5 degrees. Their hives won’t need heating if well isolated from cold and the ambient temperature does not go below -10 degrees for too long. If it happens, heating must be provided to keep nest inner temperature above 12 - 15 degrees or all larvae will die. Their colonies are also small, with 600 bees or so, and will produce from 1,5 to 2 liters of honey a year (3 liters in exceptional conditions). During winter probably some artificial feeding will be needed even if no honey is harvested. The Guaraipo is quite sensitive to low humidity levels, and will not survive in regions with dry weather. In such situations keeping water reservoirs inside the hive have proven to be effective. This species is interesting for usually having more than one queen per colony at a time (up to 5 have been seen), with makes the survival more likely as the death of a queen will not affect too much the colony.
    guaraipo1.jpg


    -Uruçu amarela (Melipona Rufiventris): This is a very productive species, that can reach about the same size as the Guaraipo, but form much larger colonies, containing from 3.500 to 5.000 bees which can produce about 6 liters of honey a year (up to 10 in exceptional conditions). It is not very selective about the flowers to visit either. Can survive quite well in moderately cold regions, working to collect pollen and nectar when temperature is as low as 5 degrees.When installed in thick wood hives, with good heat insulation, strong colonies can probably survive winter without heating, even if temperature goes slightly below zero for a few weeks. If honey is not harvested they probably won't need to be fed either. Despite been stingless and not agressive, this species can be reasonably defensive if the hive is molested, and will nip with their jaws causing moderate pain. It is recommended the use of protection to manipulate their nests.
    DSC02799.jpg


    -Iraí (Nannotrigona Testaceicornis): This is a small size species, reaching less than 5mm in length. It is very tame and completely harmless, so can be easily manipulated with no protection at all. These very small bees would not survive in the open in cold regions, but adapts quite well in densely populated areas, even in big cities. The worker bees close the entrance of the nest when the night falls, so they are not attracted by light sources as lamps, and this way can be kept inside houses, protected from the cold. The bees can go out thru the windows in warm seasons and be artificially fed in cold seasons. The colonies can have from 2.000 to 3000 individuals, but being so tiny they produce only a very small amount of a very tasteful honey (less than 0,5 liters a year) and are not of interest for commercial production. But they can make perfect pets for those who like exotic animals, or pollinate glasshouses. The colony needs very few space, and can be kept inside small ornamented hives resembling model houses, Farbergé eggs or other decorative objects.
    Nannotrigona_testaceicornis_AMNH_BEE-,I_HHG1839.jpg



    All those species are already successfully kept by Brazilian meliponicultors, and are easily found in the market. Inside the country they can be ordered by e-mail or phone. I believe they could be a good start for American researchers.

    Best regars.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Leandrogcard; 04-16-2014 at 07:41 PM. Reason: Adding some illustration

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Anyone raise Stingless Bees in USA?

    Mason bees have finally found the nesting block I bought for them, so yes, yes, yes...
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

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