SIPITANG: Farm trials involving the European honey bee Apis mellifera of the subspecies agustica, also known as the Italian bee, began in October and have proceeded smoothly, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin.
In the trials, 40 boxes of the bees imported from Perth, Australia were kept at the Sabah Forest Industry (SFI) Plantation Sdn Bhd nursery at Kampung Mandulong about 30km from here.
“The bees breed fast and adapt easily to the local weather and conditions, and the project is the first in the state to revive the honey bee industry which went into decline after 2009,” Yahya, who is also state Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, told reporters after visiting the project site yesterday.
The state’s honey production declined to 1.2 metric tonnes last year from 11 metric tonnes in 2009, he said.
The bees can produce 20-35 kg of honey compared to three to nine kg by the Apis cerana bees reared previously, and are bigger, more docile and less likely to leave the nest, he said.
They can also fly further, a distance of five to nine km, to search for nectar, while a colony can have 30,000 to 50,000 individuals compared to just 20,000 to 35,000 for Apis cerana, he added.
Yahya said the project site was chosen for its vicinity to nectar-producing Acacia mangium and eucalyptus trees, and the trials, if successful, would be extended to other areas.-Bernama
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