Harvesting honey from Australian Native Stingless Bee Hive

Being able to harvest your very own honey from your Australian Native Stingless Bee Hive is one of the many rewards associated with keeping stingless bees. Stingless bees produce small amounts of the most delicious, tangy, citrusy honey. It's so good you'll just want to eat it by the spoonful!

Native stingless bee honey

Historically prized by Australian Aborigines and referred to as sugarbag honey, stingless bee honey is a rare delicacy that is packed full of nutrients and known for various healing properties. Native bees store their pollen and honey in honey pots created from propolis. Propolis is created from a mixture of native bee wax and plant resins and it is these properties which is believed to infuse the delicate and aromatic flavours into their honey.

A strong boxed colony of native bees can produce anywhere between half a kilogram to two kilograms of honey per year. Much of this depends on the strength of the colony, location and environmental conditions.

Harvesting or robbing honey from your honey is a simple process but there are a few key things we do (and don't do) to ensure we don't put our colony at risk of pests and we minimise the loss of our precious bees.

What you will need: 

Two plastic containers,

A metal sieve or strainer

A couple of forks or other clean, sharp implements for bursting honey pots

Small spray bottle filled with water (or a hose close by)

Wet tea towel and paper towel (for cleaning up)

Masking tape

Clean, sterile jars to store your honey


Where to rob honey from:

We only ever rob honey from a honey super, honey box or honey jar which is separated from the brood (baby bees) by a separator. We never, ever take honey from near the brood or from anywhere in the brood chamber as this is the vital food stores of our colony.

All of our boxed colonies are housed in OATH designed hives with a honey super, making it easy to harvest honey.

Remove bees: 

When you remove your honey super or honey box from your hive there is likely to still be lots of bees working in and around the honey pots. Gently tap or vibrate the outside of the honey box with a hammer or hive tool to remove as many bees as possible.

Full honey super ready for harvesting

Burst the honey pots: 

Using a fork or something similar, gently burst the honey pots in your honey super. You will note that there will be pollen pots on one or both sides of your honey super. We recommend trying to avoid bursting pollen pots during this process otherwise your honey will be bitter.

Invert the honey super over one of your plastic containers and walk away while it drains. It will take quite a while for your honey super to completely drain. Ensure all drips have stopped before you return your honey super back to the hive box.

Strain your honey

Strain your honey through a metal sieve or something similar into your second plastic container then pour into your jars and seal.

Look after your bees

Any stray bees covered in honey on your work surface can be sprayed with a fine mist of water to remove the honey from them. They will recover quicker if they aren't covered in honey.

Return honey super to hive

You may choose to remove all of the propolis from your honey super for other uses or alternatively, leave the broken pots in your honey super. Your bees will refill your honey super quicker as they will reuse all of this material.

Ensure there is no excess honey dripping before returning the super to the top of the hive box. Native bees can drown in spilt honey not to mention the scent is a massive invitation for pests.

Once your hive is back together, clean the outside really well with the wet towel and dry it with the paper towel. Following this, tape all the seams to prevent pests from laying eggs in the cracks.

Native bee honey has a high water content and will also contain a range of pollens. We recommend storing your honey in the fridge to prevent fermentation.

Check our our You Tube clip of one of our honey harvests below:

8 thoughts on “Harvesting honey from Australian Native Stingless Bee Hive”

  1. Hi Guys
    I am interested in keeping these bees but where do you start? We have a great area for them to pollinate and I would like to get started
    Kind regards

    1. G’day David, sorry for the slow response, we’ve been on holidays and your comment has been sitting in our spam :-(. Identify a good location in your garden which allows you to place your hive in a NE facing direction, gets the morning sun until around 10-10.30am in the summer and somewhere where you can sit/stand and enjoy watching them regularly. Consider whether you want to place your hive on a stand or a paver or even a bracket.
      When you’re ready, you can purchase a hive box with a live colony inside, take them home and release them once you have them in position.
      You are welcome to give us a call whenever you’re ready and we can run you through any other questions you may have (0433 278 223 or 0407 905 469).

      Warm regards,

  2. What I need to do to build a honey pod do I need to leave another hole on top of my two layers do I need to keep the queen out?

    1. G’day Hank, depends on the style of hive you have, however we separate the brood chamber from the honey super with a piece of ply with three small holes drilled up one end. The bees will seal the holes leading to the honey super until they are ready to store extra food up there.

  3. Hello honeywood hives,
    My husband and I have discussed at length putting in a hive, but are worried introducing a hive will harm the native bee population. I finally found you and see this may offer us a solution. Will native bees also assist in pollination of our fruit, vegetables and flowers, or do they require a specific (native) diet? I would greatly appreciate some information regarding being native bee keepers to allow us to make a decision becoming native apiarists 🐝 😊 kind regards, Sam Murphy

    1. G’day Sam, apologies for the slow response. Your message was caught in our spam folder :(.
      Native bees are what’s referred to as ‘generalised pollinators’ so they tend to pollinate a large variety of flowers (including flowering fruits and veggies and native plants).
      Maintaining a native stingless bee hive can be as complex or simple as you like. If you’re just looking at pollination for your garden, you are able to ‘set and forget’. As long as they’re placed in a good position in your yard receiving the morning sun until around 10am and protected from the western sun in summer, they’ll should continue to thrive year in year out.
      If you want to do more with your hive, you are able to either split/duplicate it around every 1-2 years and/or harvest a small about of sugarbag honey from it annually. A nice bonus to keeping them in your yard. You are welcome to contact us anytime if you have more questions. Warm wishes, Jacqui

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