Tradition: As one enters Nimshong village of Korphu gewog in Trongsa, you come across a very unusual sight.

Almost every household has a cylindrical wooden container-like hanging by the walls of their houses with black winged creatures buzzing in and out of it.

The cylindrical containers also look like Palang with a polythene pipe-like object on one side.  But what it makes it interesting is that bees nest the polythene out of their wax. These are hives of the stingless bees, locally called Chulingmu.

Keeping Chulingmu at home is an age-old tradition in the village and people are still practicing it.

People in the village say these stingless bees are kept at homes for its medicinal values.

Karchung, 77, has two beehives hanging from either sides of the entrance of his house. He said keeping the bees was very crucial, especially when the village did not have modern health care facilities like today.

“We extracted honey from the hives and fed to people, suffering from cold and it helped,” he said. “The honey was also used for treating foot and mouth diseases of the cattle in the village.”

Karchung said people consumed honey while animals were fed the honey mixed with flour. “We also used to apply the honey over the infected foot of the cattle,” he said.

These bees would not sting and it was always an advantage to have them at home. They extracts honey from the hive as and when needed.

These bees usually nested their hives in the forest in hollow trees. Villagers who found it, cut the wood and brought the bees home.

Adola, 61, also has a beehive. He said many people do not harvest honey today because of religious sentiments. “They just keep these insects at homes as pets but some people harvest honey and store them in bottles for future use,” he said. “People give the honey to elderly and children when they are sick.”

Honey of the stingless bees fetch good prices in other places but the villagers in Nimshong do not sell them.

Korphu Gup Sangay Khandu said he remembers his father feeding him with the honey when he suffered from cold and infections in his mouth. “I don’t remember how my father brought them home,” he said.

Bees that nests at their homes on its own are considered auspicious for the house owner.

Internet sources reveal stingless bee honey is called the mother of all medicines and consuming stingless bee honey regularly helps in anti-ageing, enhanced libido and immune system, fighting bacteria and treating bronchial catarrh, sore throat, coughs and colds.

Bee honey certainly has a lot of nutrients because meliponine is smaller than the normal bee and can suck nectar from flowers to the deepest space. “As a result, the honey collected contains many vitamins and minerals, among which is propolis, produced from the bee’s saliva mixed with its food such as pollen, bark, tree shoots and flowers,” Internet sources states.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa