An Innovation For A More Sustainable Kelulut Honey Industry

– extracted and adapted from RAKAN Sarawak October-December 2021 –

Kelulut honey, or so-called stingless bee honey of Heterotrigona itama has been reported to contain phenolic compounds and high antioxidant activity which brings various significant health benefits.

Despite being a ‘superfood’, fresh harvested stingless bee honey always has storage problem as it easily undergoes rapid fermentation due to its high moisture content of above 30 per cent. This high moisture condition resulted in alcoholic fermentation which can affect the beneficial active compounds and lead to shelf-life deterioration of the stingless bee honey.

Thus, stingless bee honey needs dehydration process to reduce the moisture content to its stable condition of below 20 per cent.

A portable stingless bee honey dehydrator namely DEHYDOMETM has been developed by Team Trigona Tech of Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI Sarawak).

Stingless honey bee farm

Title of project: The process of removing water content in fresh stingless bee honey is less practical

Name of innovation: DEHYDOMETM

Team members:

  • Mr. Nicholas Daniel (Senior Research Officer, Food Science & Technology Research)
  • Dr. Chua Hun Pin (Senior Principal Research Officer, Food Science & Technology Research)
  • Mdm.Teresa Anie Meng (Assistant Research Officer, Food Science & Technology Research)
  • Mr. Johairy Abdullah (Assistant Research Officer)
  • Ir. Ts. Mohd Fazly Bin Mail (Senior Research Officer, Engineering Research)
  • Ts. Mohd Shukry Bin Hassan Basri (Assistant Research Officer, Engineering Research)
  • Mr. Mohd Nur Hafiz Bin Mat Azmin (Senior Research Officer, Commercialization and Business)

Innovation competition and awards:

  • 4 Star Award – Annual Productivity and Innovation Showcase & Exposition (ARISE
  • Gold Award – RISTEX MPC Wilayah Sabah Sarawak 2021
  • Gold Award – International Stingless Bees Conference & Workshop, Kota Kinabalu, 2019.
  • Champion – Konvensyen KIK Peringkat MARDI, 2019
  • Champion – Konvensyen Akar Umbi MARDI (AUM), 2018
  • DEHYDOMETM innovation has been granted Trademark(No: TM2018/01/032)
One of the team members showing stingless bee honey operators on how to use the DEHYDOMETM

The idea behind the innovation

Based on a survey, some stingless bee honey producers were not aware of the Malaysia Standard for Stingless Bee Honey MS2683:2017 which requires the water content to be below 22 per cent.

This high moisture condition of stingless bee honey will cause alcoholic fermentation which can affect the beneficial active compounds and lead to shelf-life deterioration of the stingless bee honey.

The DEHYDOMETM has the capacity to accomodate 1-5 kilogram of stingless bee honey for one cycle of dehydration process

Currently in Malaysia, the existing dehydration methods used by most of the stingless bee producers to reduce the moisture content of honey are different from one to another.

All these methods involved thermal process such as double boiling, open drying and cabinet drying. The application of high heat in these methods was found to degrade the quality of the honey, such as causing the loss of aromatic substances and increase its hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content.

Besides, those available commercially honey dehydrators are mostly for big scale production (minimum 20kg per batch) and costly, which is not suitable for small and medium entrepreneurs.

The DEHYDOMETM was the winner for the Konvensyen KIK Peringkat MARDI in 2019

Background of DEHYDOMETM

DEHYDOMETM is developed by MARDI as an alternative to replace the current methods for reducing moisture of stingless bee honey with dehydration temperature below 40°C (temperature that not affect the quality of honey).

Based on the performance test on the prototype, it has been found that DEHYDOMETM can reduce the moisture of stingless bee honey to below 22 per cent  in just 6 to 10 hours compared to most existing methods which take more than 24 hours.

This easy handling dehydrator DEHYDOMETM can give a big impact to the local stingless bee entrepreneurs especially to reduce the operational costs in honey processing. This innovation can help towards sustainability of stingless beeindustry in Malaysia.

Characteristic of DEHYDOMETM:

  • Small and portable for small and medium operators
  • Affordable (DEHYDOMETM estimated price RM700)
  • Easy to handle and convenient
  • Reduce operational costs  
  • Sustainable stingless bee honeyindustry in Malaysia
User manual of the DEHYDOMETM

Benefits of the innovation

  • Produce a good quality of local stingless bee honey that meets the Malaysian Stingless Bee Honey Standard MS2683:2017
  • Longer shelf-life for larger and export market
  • Increase the income of stingless bee honey operators
  • A stable market price for stingless bee honey
  • Can be used for the dehydration of any type of honey
Team Trigona Tech of the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Sarawak

Future planning and development

At the time of writing, Team Trigona Tech is in the process of incorporating an element of Circular Economy Practice into DEHYDOMETM for its sustainability and to encourage more entrepreneurs to process honey using an affordable, simpler and smarter method which can reduce cost, increase income, better quality and market price of stingless bee honey.

This can be done by installing IoT device (Internet of Things) into DEHYDOMETM so that it can be controlled and monitored by using smartphone apps from any location.

According to MARDI, to date, a total of 357 orders have been received for DEHYDOMETM.

A total of four companies are interested and is currently in the process of discussion to become MARDI’s stakeholder for the commercialization of DEHYDOMETM.

Logo of the DEHYDOMETM

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