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Trees bees use - Melaleuca leucadendron

by Nguyen Quang Tan, University of Agriculture and Forestry, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Apicultural value

Melaleuca leucadendron is the most important source of nectar and pollen for Apis dorsata and Apis florea in the swampy forests of southern Vietnam. It is also a good source for Apis cerana in Malaysia and for Apis mellifera in Florida, USA.

Synonym

Melaleuca cajuputi Powell

Family

Myrtaceae

Distribution

Tropical Asia, Australia, Central America and Florida.

Description

An evergreen tree or shrub, very common in coastal areas. The woody tree, with a narrow crown, can reach 25 min height and 40 cm in diameter. The shrub straggles along the ground, 

Bark: thick, soft, shaggy, white, like paper.

Leaves: 4-8 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, oil-containing

Flowers: White, fragrant with a fluff of long stamens, copious nectar flow.

Flowering: two periods a year, from January to April and from July to August.

Honey: amber coloured with a tendency for further darkening, with a strong and distinctive smell

Wood: Hard and fairly heavy 

Uses

Melaleuca shrub: oil extract from the leaves is used in medicine, as an insect repellent, and in soap manufacturing

Melaleuca tree trunks: used in construction and for fuelwood.

Melaleuca bark. used as smoker fuel Also used as packing material 

Melaleuca honey. in Vietnam tens of tonnes of honey are harvested from Apis dorsata colonies by the rafter beekeeping technique Up to 100 tonnes are harvested by professional Apis mellifera beekeepers each year

Read more about Rafter beekeeping in Vietnam in B&D36 page 8 

Rafter beekeeping in Vietnam the Apimondia Gold Medal winning video is available from Bees for Development price £25 See ordering information on page 15

References

KIEW,R, MUID,M (1991) Beekeeping in Malaysia: pollen atlas Umted Selangor Press Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

MULDER,V (1995) Honey and wax production from Apis dorsata and Apis florea in submerged Melaleuca forests in Vietnam Bees and Forest in the Tropics (} Beetsma, editor), NECTAR, Netherlands pp 27-41

ROBINSON, (1980) Relationship of Melaleuca to beekeeping Proceedings of Melaleuca Symposium, September 1980 Flonda Division of Forestry, Florida, USA pp 79-80

TAN,NGUYEN QUANG, CHINH,P H; THAILP H, MULDER,V (1997) Rafter beekeeping with Apis dorsata; some factors affecting the occupation of rafters by bees Journal of Apicultural Research 36(1): 49-54

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