Stingless bee centre out to woo ecotourists

Nature’s wonder: Prof Shamsul Bahri checking a bee nest at the Kelulut Repository. — Bernama

MARANG: Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) Indo-Malayan Kelulut Repository, which houses over 20 unique and rare species of the stingless bee, is expected to become a new ecotourism attraction in Terengganu.

UMT Bee and Stingless Bee Researcher Group (SIG) head Prof Dr Shamsul Bahri Abd Razak said the repository, located at a 0.4ha site at UMT’s second campus in Bukit Kor here, was developed in April last year at the cost of RM100,000.

He said it was set up mainly to serve as a genetic bank or collection centre for various species of bees for use as reference by researchers nationwide.

“Among the species found here are Heterotrigona erythrogastra, Tetrigona apicalis, Homotrigona aliceae, Tetrogona Bingham, Sundatrigona moorei, and Tetrogona peninsular, which are not found elsewhere,” he told Bernama.

Prof Shamsul Bahri said the repository was also developed to replace the original repository at the Sekayu State Agricultural Park, Hulu Terengganu, which was destroyed during the major floods in 2021.

According to him, the floods caused considerable losses to the university, researchers and the state’s ecotourism sector.

“The original repository in Sekayu was the first in Malaysia and the world’s largest collection centre for stingless bees.

“SIG took decades to gather the collection through travels around the world, so it was very sad when all was lost overnight,” he added.

He said SIG is now trying to get funds to develop the repository in Bukit Kor as a state ecotourism destination with plans to set up an information centre and use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology for monitoring and disseminating information to visitors.

In a related development, Prof Shamsul Bahri said SIG is hoping to get the repository in Bukit Koh into the Malaysia Book of Records as the first repository to have the largest number of Indo-Malayan species of stingless bees.

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