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Beekeeping and Honey In Malaysia

ByArshad Mahmud
on

The Problem With Commercial Honey

There are millions of honey products. But almost all of them are fake. 

With fake honey, the only thing you’ll experience is a spike in blood sugar. It’s a major problem for fans of honey.

Fake Honey

Fake honey(a.k.a commercial honey) is a mix of glucose syrups, inverted sugar solutions, corn, cane or beet syrup.

Fake honey can also come from farmers who feed their bees with sugar water. The farmers will still harvest the honey from the hive, but it’s still sugar water. 

Benefits of Farmed Honey

A great choice for real honey is harvested from a farm. Not a factory. 

Farm honey has all the natural benefits you know of honey, plus, the assurance that it is made from pure nectar from wildflowers. 

  • Antioxidant powerhouse: Honey is rich in antioxidants, which help protect your body from cell damage.
  • Wound healing: Honey has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. When applied to your skin, it helps heal wounds and reduce risk of infection.
  • Cough suppressant:  Studies suggest that honey can be as effective as some cough suppressants for relieving coughs.
  • Potential digestive benefits:  Honey’s prebiotic properties support a healthy gut by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
  • Blood sugar management: While still sugar, some studies suggest that honey may have a slightly lower glycemic index than table sugar, causing a slower rise in blood sugar levels.

Challenges of Farmed Honey in Malaysia

Bee farmers go through a lot to produce natural honey. 

A bee farmer is always on the lookout for the health of the bee colony. Bees can get infected with lice and other diseases. 

Next is preparing the flowers for the bees to harvest. Farming bees means farming the flowers too. And some flowers are much tougher to farm than others. 

Weather and climate is another challenge. Also parasites, insect predators, or human interference. All of these can damage the health of flowers. 

And when that happens, bees won’t have much nectar to eat or harvest.

What you may not know about honey and bees

Bees play a key role in maintaining the balance of our ecosystem. When they harvest nectar, the bees help pollinate the flowers which helps secure a healthy environment.

In Malaysia, there are two main types of beekeeping, traditional and modern beekeeping.

Traditional beekeeping involves harvesting honey from naturally occurring hives of wild bees. Modern beekeeping, means raising domesticated bees, in hives managed by beekeepers.

Other than honey, bees also produce other valuable byproducts with medicinal uses. These include propolis, bee venom, and bee bread. 

Propolis has antibacterial and antifungal properties. 

Bee venom, also known as apitoxin, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including arthritis, and pain. 

Bee bread is a mixture of pollen, honey, and bee enzymes. It is a rich source of nutrients and is believed to have health benefits.

The Process of Farming Honey

Honey farming (a.k.a beekeeping) involves providing a home for honeybees and managing the hive to collect honey.

Research and Education

Beekeeping requires knowledge and respect for these fascinating creatures. Enroll in a beekeeping course or connect with a local beekeeping association to learn about proper beekeeping practices, safety measures, and local regulations.

Location Selection

Choose a location that receives ample sunlight, is sheltered from strong winds, and has a water source nearby. Ideally, there should be a variety of flowering plants within a 2-mile radius to provide nectar and pollen for the bees.

Hive Selection

There are different types of beehives, with the Langstroth hive being the most common for beginners. Research and choose a hive design that suits your needs and comfort level.

Equipment

You’ll need essential beekeeping gear to protect yourself and properly manage the hives This includes a bee veil, gloves, smoker, hive tool, and a honey extractor (for larger operations).

Acquiring Package Bees or Nucleus Colony

For beginners, purchasing a package of bees (worker bees and a queen) or a nucleus colony (a small, established hive) is recommended. Local beekeepers can be a good resource.

Installing the Bees

Following recommended protocols, carefully transfer the bees into your prepared hive with frames containing wax foundation (where they will build comb).

Inspections

Regular hive inspections (once a week initially) are crucial to monitor the bee colony’s health, the queen bee’s presence, and honey production.

Hive Maintenance

As the colony grows, you may need to add additional hive boxes to provide space for honey production.  Regular cleaning and being on the lookout for parasites or pests are other responsibilities to make sure your bees have a happy harvesting experience.

Ripening Honey

Honey is considered ripe when the wax cappings on the honeycomb cells are sealed. An experienced beekeeper can assess if the honey is ready for harvest.

Old Bee, A Malaysian Bee Keeper on TikTok

Few times a week, a dedicated beekeeper educates his followers about farming bees, natural honey, government certifications for honey, and lab test measurements to detect fake from real honey. 

Old Bee (@oldbeehq) has 146,100 followers on TikTok. He actively goes live to show his followers the process of farming bees. He engages with his audience, and sometimes, rude comments. 

Rarely does it happen, but when it does, rude comments come from consumers who have been lied to quite a bit. It’s a prevailing frustration for honey consumers in Malaysia. 

Old Bee positions his brand as an educator in the market. He patiently teaches his followers, he promotes the honey he processes live. 

In one live session, he shared that he continuously studies beekeeping and aims to be the best beekeeper in Malaysia. After trying his signature honey longan, I’m confident he’ll get there. 

Old Bee packages their honey securely and includes a lab test of the honey before sending it off to customers. It’s a thoughtful gesture and helps consumers feel confident with Old Bee.

Conclusion

There is no end to greedy businesses taking advantage of honey consumers with fake honey. And there are many challenges to farming real honey in Malaysia. 

By supporting beekeepers like Old Bee, we can give homegrown local businesses a fighting chance against big greedy corporations. 

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