Stingless bees, or simply meliponines, are a large group of bees, comprising the tribe Meliponini (sometimes called stingless honey bees) in the family Apidae, and closely-related to the common honey bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees and bumblebees. The common name is slightly misleading, as a great many bee species, especially in the family Andrenidae, are also incapable of stinging, as are all male bees. It is further true that meliponines do not lack stings morphologically; they are simply highly reduced and cannot be used for defense.
Stingless bees can be found in most tropical or subtropical regions of the world, such as Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of Mexico and Brazil. The majority of nativeeusocial bees of Central and South America are stingless bees, although only a few of them produce honey on a scale such that they are farmed by humans. They are also quite diverse in Africa and are farmed there also; meliponine honey is prized as a medicine in many African communities.
Being tropical, stingless bees are active all year round, although they are less active in cooler weather. Unlike other eusocial bees, they do not sting but will defend by biting if their nest is disturbed.
Spiral honeycomb made by the stingless honeybee Trigonia carbonaria