In my earlier posts titled “Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee….” and “……….a ray of hope for revival of Apis dorsata and Apis cerana indica” I have mentioned the position of these two distinguishable honey bee species now, lets see the position of locally known KUSUMOL, the stingless bee.
This tiny insect used to be found hovering the flowers for nectar etc along with other insects during the blooming time of different flowers in Tripura but became a rare insect now-a-days.
An encounter with Stingless Bee:
I have a special relation with this tiny honey producing insect for the fact I had tried to domesticate this insect during my early childhood days with lots of extra activities. In those days, this insect was very prominent like other honey producing insect viz; Apis dorsata and Apis cerana indica.
Well, I could not or not tried to venture with other major honey producing insect due to the fact that all these had given swelling sting that I hardly forget so, I started with this small and tiny hymenoptera insect “Stingless Bee”, I had hived this insect along with its brood in a small earthen pot with a hole and placed it in a pomello fruit tree.
Incidentally or co-incidentally, that time it was the blooming period of pomello and other fruit plants in my area. However, I could not resist my self to see the actual development that has been taking place inside that earthen pot so, I opened that earthen pot after 20(twenty) days of hiving. What I could see was really astonishing rather it was a moment of self achievement that I could do something even in my childish deed also.
After opening the cover of the earthen pot, I could see that there was lot of activity that has been taking place; there were activities of new brood rearing, developing of new sac like comb and honey sac that has been developed on the wall of the earthen pot.
I had tasted after checking the honey sac longing on the wall of the earthen pot. One thing I observed was; their combing pattern; from my observation, it seems to be mixed that means there is no definitive parts for rearing of young brood and honey sacs . They were distributed here and there in the whole structure of hive.
As far as danger in dealing with this insect is that, they do not pose any danger to the intruder. Their mode of attack to the intruder is by way of sticking with gum like substance which I encountered at the time of my intrusion into their hive. My hairs were in fact glued with the gummy substances by these insects.
This insect used to make hive in the crack and crevices of big trees and also in the hollowed stone in the jungle or any other place where there is abundance resources for nectar, pollen and resins. This insect; their buzzing activities used to be seen at the blooming time of different fruit plants like litchi, Mango, Pomello, Ber and many other forest trees in the natural ecosystem. But, during this time that is early blooming period of mango, I could hardly notice this stingless bee hovering mango flower in Agartala area.
Stingless Bee, in the eyes of people:
One of the characteristic of Stingless Bee is; they used to make funneling structuring at the entrance of the hive, this protruding material are made up of wax like substance collected from different plants and same is also used for comb making.
People were less concerned for their honey or their usefulness in pollination of different flowers but they feel their usefulness for wax or otherwise gummy substances for smearing the thin cotton thread for enhancing the strength of that thin cotton thread. This smoothen thread is used as required accessories for making home clothes and, also this strengthened thread is also used for making fishing thread.
Present Scenario of Stingless Bee in Tripura
Stingless bee like many other major honey producing species is in the state of declining condition and it is for the fact that this insect has never ever been considered by the people (at least by the researcher of the state) as one of the beneficial insect to be considered for further exploration.
Why it should draw attention by the researcher of the state is of course another question that may come to the mind and it may be genuine in one sense because, there are many major beneficial or intrusive insects that require serious attention. But fact also that we hardly realize the other usefulness of this tiny stingless bee; it is less for honey more for production of different fruits or other cultivated crops.
There is report that this stingless bee used to be a source for honey in many countries(south American) but now, in other countries too the trend for depending on this insect is declining due to introduction of more productive honey producing species like Apis mellifera.
Now as far as position of this species in Tripura perspective is concerned, as already mentioned, very few know (mostly urban people) the insect let alone the usefulness of this insect.
The insect which used to be found in the cracks and crevices of trees and visiting different flowers are no more exist in the way that used to be in earlier days.
People of the state are yet to realize the usefulness of this insect that this insect does to the betterment of the farmers in particular and people in general.
This stingless bee may be minor producers of honey but their pollination potential is undoubtedly one of the major advantages that we hardly realize. However, time has come to feel the need of various useful insect as far as production of different cultivated crops and their dependence on various insects for effective pollination and optimum production of different cross pollinated crops and also the self pollinated crops too.
Time has come for all of us make serious efforts to preserve this stingless bee for greater cause if not for honey.
Agritangkol dated 25.01.2012 at 2.50 P.M