Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bees addicted to junk food

Beekeepers at the town Ribeauville in the Region of Alsace of France found their honey in blue and green color.

Out of curiosity, they tried to trace their bees’ source of honey. They found that instead of obtaining nectar from the local field, their bees have gone to a nearby biogas plant for sugary snack.

The plant processed waste for Mars which made M&M’s chocolates in blue and green sugar based shells.

This means the honey produced is not merchantible and not fit for use. The beekeepers suffered loss as a result.

The plant has  since cleared their containers and will keep future waste in covered halls to prevent patronizing of the bees.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fine on Bird Nest Industrialist?

According to a source from Beijing, foreigners who bring in bird nest to China without former documentation will be fined RMB5,000. This new regulation has been officially stipulated in a custom procedure and took effect from 1 November 2012.

The regulation has been in place for quite some time but without official document. Thus , it deterred the custom to implement the regulation effectively. Now with the formal custom procedure, the custom can conduct its duty more effectively.

Does this new development affect the bird nest industrialists in Malaysia?

It is reported that it affects only  those bird nest industrialists who export the bird nest to Hong Kong. The reason being the source of “illegal” bird nest is Hong Kong.

While Malaysian Government is formalizing the procedure on the export of cleaned bird nest to China, the bird nest industrialists are confident that one day when the export procedures are established, they should be able to export bird nests by formal way to China. They still hope that that moment is in the near future, hopefully before the Chinese New Year.

In the meantime, the bird nest industrialists keep stock of the bird nests.

The future of bird nests is definitely bright bearing in mind that this rare nature product is in demand in China but cannot be found in China.

Hopefully, the Malaysian Government and bird nest industrialists could work together hand in hand to overcome any obstacle in the export of bird nests to China.

Posted by Chai Yong of


Monday, October 8, 2012

China-Malaysia Bird Nest Export Agreement

On 22 September 2012, China and Malaysia have set their respective hands on the Bird Nest Export Agreement in Nanning, Guangxi Province, People’s Republic of China.

Following the ceremony, there are still works to be done before processed bird nests can be practically exported to China.

The Bird Nest Export Agreement only involves processed bird nest. It does not include unprocessed bird nest which accounts for 95% of the bird nest products of Malaysia.

There are many importers from China waiting for China and Malaysia to formalize the export agreement. They intend to import bird nest from Malaysia once the agreement was signed.

The mid-autumn festival is over now. We can only hope to export the bird nests to China before the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Considering bird nest made from the swiftlet saliva, it is such a rare product that people from China are looking for.

There is no question on the demand on bird nest. We must strive to clear whatever obstacle like RFID system which will definitely bog down the export of bird nest to China particularly.

Posted by Chai Yong from

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Asystasia - Another Source of Honey in Malaysia

Asystasia gangetia has a common name : creeping foxglove. It belongs to a plant family called Acanthaceae. It thrives lavishly in tropical Asia including Malaysia.

This plant is a fast growing, invasive and attractive ground cover with small beautiful flower. The flower is white in color with purple strip on the lower petal. It attracts honey bees to come to obtain nectar.

Besides attracting honey bee, its flower also lures butterflies. The flower also serves as food to beetle.

Asystasia is quite invasive that it could smother the surrounding vegetation with its herbaceous layer.

It can be used as mass planting under large trees. It can be propagated from cuttings taken after flowering. It thrives in semi-shade areas and under full sun.
Posted by Chai Yong of

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Scandal?

The recent news on the bird’s nest export  agreement between China and Indonesia reveals that there are big differences between the agreement between Malaysia and China and that between Indonesia and china.

Let’s review some details of the agreement between Indonesia and China.

Pursuant to the agreement, the bird’s nest must be selected, cleaned and heated at a temperature more than 70 degree Celcius for 3.5 second. It must be packed and labeled showing the product name, weight,  farmer’s details, production registration number, production date, storage instruction, veterinary department registration number etc.

The qualified bird’s nest exporter must submit export application to the Agriculture and Forestry Product Export director. He must attach his trading licence for the purpose.

There is no mention on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which currently becomes a big issue in Malaysia. Surprisingly, there is no requirement on the minimum nitrite content which is imposed on Malaysian bird’s nest.

The types of bird’s nest products that can be exported to China from Indonesia include cleaned and uncleaned bird’s nest. In Malaysia only cleaned bird’s nest is allowed.

Malaysia and Indonesia are two ASEAN countries. Why there are two different kind of treatment in the bird’s nest export agreement?

The bird’s nest association now starts to suspect that the Agriculture Department officer and the RFID provider willfully imposed the requirement in the midst of chaos in respect of blood bird’s nest and finally ban from China.

The bird’s nest association vowed to find out more evidence before taking further action.

Posted by Chai Yong of

Friday, July 20, 2012

RFID Technology - A Controversy in Malaysian Bird's Nest Industry

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a technology boosted by the Malaysian Government.
RFID allows a product to be easily tracked from the source to the consumer.
RFID has been suggested by Malaysian Government to be used in the bird’s nest industry which has been thwarted by a ban of the China Government since June 2011.
Bird’s nests may be sealed in a box with an RFID tag that contains a microchip embedded with data about the harvest. In fact, every step from harvesting to packaging can be tagged. The data is stored centrally with the government. It serves as a Certificate of Authenticity. This is a great measure to overcome counterfeit bird’s nest.
However, the main reason China Government bans Malaysia bird’s nests is its high nitrite content. Using RFID means higher cost to those involved in the bird’s nests industry.
Some supporters of RFID say that they can mark up the bird’s nest prices because RFID gives confidence to the consumers. This group of people has forgotten that Malaysia is only the second largest bird’s nest exporter (about 15%) after Indonesia (80%).
Indonesia government is now negotiating with the China Government to export directly bird’s nest to China.
The key thing to this issue is that the China Government never requested the Malaysian Government to use RFID.
If Malaysian Government insisted to use RFID, Malaysian bird’s nest will not be cheap. It means its bird’s nest will not be competitive in the China market compared to that from Indonesia who never suggests the use of RFID.
In such situation, RFID is a white elephant, not realistic at all in the face of global competition. So long as Malaysian bird’s nest can comply with China Government requirement namely nitrite content below 30 ppm, there is no necessity to have RFID which only serve as a certificate of authenticity. China as a consumer of bird’s nest, if they are health conscious will definitely test our bird’s nest on its nitrite content. Exporters who do not comply will be banned.
RFID will only be useful if our competitor also uses it. Only then, we have a fair platform to compete. For the moment, it is simply impractical.
Posted by Chai Yong of

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why vegans do not eat honey?

Veganism is defined as a way of life of life which excludes all forms of exploitation of and torture to the animal kingdom. The vegans do not eat flesh, fish, fowl, egg, honey, animal milk and its derivatives. They only rely on the plant kingdom for food.
There are a few reasons why the vegans exclude honey from their menu.
The vegans feel that the honey bees are enslaved. The beekeepers use smoke to calm the bees. Smoke neutralizes the alarm pheromone which the guard bees release and prevents the entire colony from becoming agitated.
The beekeepers use to move around the beehives in search for honey. During the migration, the beehives are carried from a place to another usually at night. Like human, bees suffer in the journey. That’s why bees are agitated and used to sting people when the beehives are unloaded from the lorry when the beekeepers arrive at a new place.
A queen can live up to 5 years. However, a queen may be killed by human after 2 years when its reproduction capacity is dwindling and replaced by a successor queen.
Honey is the result of hard work of the bees. Honey bees travel 88,000 km and visit 2 million flowers in order to gather nectar and produce 0.5 kg of honey. The honey is the food of the bees. They may have extra honey which the human may take. But, how often human only takes the extra honey?
As such, the vegans feel that taking away honey from the bees is an exploitation of the bees which is not acceptable to them at all.
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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sources of Honey in Malaysia

Source of Honey in Malaysia

The main source of honey in China is rapeseed whereas in the United States of America clover. What about Malaysia?

The main source of honey in Malaysia is Acacia tree. The main specie of Acacia in Malaysia is Acacia mangium.

Acacia has sap which is the source of honey dew that is collected by the honey bees. The honey bees know where to tap the sap at the root of the leaves of Acacia tree.

Currently, there are about 80,000 hectares of Acacia mangium plantation in Peninsula Malaysia, 100,000 hectares in Sabah and 8,000 hectares in Sarawak.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Practical Tests to Differentiate Pure Honey from Impure One

Impure and synthesized honey is rampant in the market. There are practical ways other than laboratory tests to check the honey you buy.

First and foremost, you have to check the label on the container. The label states the ingredients of the honey. Pure honey may mean honey plus other ingredients. For pure honey, it would state honey only.

Hexagon shape test is a very useful test. To perform this test, put a drop of honey on a flat plate. Drip water on top of the honey just enough to cover it. Shake the plate with the honey in it in circular horizontal direction. After a while you will see hexagon shape like that of honeycomb if the honey is a pure one.

Water dissolving test is another useful test. Put a drop of honey into water in a glass. If the honey goes all the way to the bottom of the glass, it is pure honey. Impure honey will dissolve on its way to the bottom of the glass.

To learn more about some practical tests, please navigate