Honey bees are natural pollinators of plants. They help in disseminating pollens from flower to flower while collecting nectar. As a result, seeds are produced which enable the propagation of the plants.
There are many sources of nectar in Malaysia.
Acacia tree is one of the main sources of honey in Malaysia.
Acacia belongs to the family of Fabaceae. There are over 1300 species in the world. In Malaysia, the main specie of Acacia is Acacia mangium.
In general Acacia has sap which is the source of honey dew that is collected by the honey bees. Acacia is an invasion plant meaning it propagates easily and has high resilience against adverse environmental conditions. It is used as an erosion control plant.
In Malaysia, all Acacia mangium plantations before 1992 were developed by the Federal Government. The plantations were established for supply of pulpwood to the paper industry.
Pineapple flower is another major source of nectar for the honey bees.
The state of Johor tops the list of major pineapple producers with some 50,000 acres of pineapple plantations.
The farmers normally will ensure that the flowering of pineapple falls within a certain time frame to facilitate the harvesting process. Therefore, the beekeepers having beehives in the pineapple plantations must move the beehives to elsewhere (it is called "migration") when there are no pineapples flowers around.
Gelam (Melaleuca cajuputi)
Melaleuca cajuputi tree belongs to the family of Myrtaceae. It is a tall tree about 15 - 20 meter high with leaves resemble those of Acacia. It has tiny creamy yellow flowers emerging on a long spike in the shape of bottle brush. The honey bees will come to pick up the nectar from these tiny flowers.
The tree trunk usually is twisted. A special feature of gelam is that its bark is spongy like that of a banana tree. The color of the bark is whitish beige and may peel off like a large sheet of paper. Hence, it is also called paper balk tree.
In Malaysia it is found in swampy forests on old raised sea beaches. It is abundant in coastal alluvial flats behind the sandy beaches and the mangroves in the states of Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu.
Star fruit (Carambola)
The star fruit is a tropical and subtropical fruit. Malaysia is a global leader in star fruit production by volume. In Malay star fruit is known as belimbing.
The star fruit tree can grow very rapidly and may produce fruits when it is 4-5 years old.
The star fruit tree flowers are a source of nectar. Star fruit flowers the whole year round. In Malaysia its peak fruiting seasons are from April to June and October to December. Beekeepers can expect a surge in honey collection during those peak seasons.
Durian tree is native to Malaysia. Durian is a controversial fruit. Some people prefer its fragrance whereas others hate it because of its strong smell.
Durian flowers are big and full of nectar. Durian is normally pollinated by bats, spiders and giant bees. It is a source of honey for beekeepers. As durian flowering is seasonal, the beekeepers must observe its flowering season for preparation of their migration programme.
Coconut trees can be found mostly at the coastal areas in Malaysia especially in the states of Penang, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu.
Coconut flowering is not seasonal. It flowers the whole year round. Its flowers are yellowish in color.