Like the honeybee, stingless bees are social, and live in colonies, each having a queen and workers. They are also called ‘Sweat Bees’ as they are attracted to the salt in human sweat, and hover around the ears and eyes of people in hot areas.
Stingless bees are smaller than honeybees, and live in hollow trees, rocks, and even termite mounds. They often make vertical tubes from resin at the entrances to their nests. Inside their nests, they have special pots in which they store honey, and separate areas for storing pollen, and housing the larvae.
There are places in East Africa, with a tradition of keeping stingless bees, but the knowledge of how to do this sustainably is not widespread. Many people simply harvest stingless bee nests by breaking open the nest, which results in the entire colony being killed. This is very destructive, and has led to the disappearance of stingless bees from some areas.
Stingless bees are very important pollinators as they rely entirely on flowers for nectar and pollen to feed their larvae. They pollinate many forest and dryland plants, and are also valued pollinators of strawberries, mango, and avocado.