May 20, 2023 - Events

Madhu Duniya 2023 – schedule, activities and information

Get ready for an incredible journey into the world of honey as it makes its grand return, heading to Vietnam in 2023!

Mark your calendars for November 5-11 as we get ready for an immersive experience in the vibrant world of Asian forest honey and bees. This highly anticipated event will unite honey hunters, producers, advocates, conservationists, researchers, and enthusiasts from around the world, all coming together to delve into the fascinating and diverse world of Asian forest honey and native Asian bees.

Discover what awaits you at this year’s conference by in the following brief.

Background and Objectives 

Madhu Duniya is a quadrennial gathering of Asian forest honey producers, scientists, private sector players, government partners, supporters and enthusiasts. It is the largest and only regional gathering focused specifically on forest honey of South and Southeast Asia. The term “Madhu Duniya” means “honey world” and was formed by combining the Sanskrit word “madhu” (honey) and the Urdu/Persian word “duniya” (world).  

Since its establishment in 2007, Madhu Duniya has served as a platform for various stakeholders to discuss growing trends, challenges and opportunities around the subject of forest honey and native Asian bees. Madhu Duniya highlights the knowledge and wisdom of community harvesters and supports the participation of community experts from a broad base of indigenous and local honey groups. Madhu Duniya recognizes forest honey as crucial to rural incomes, a contributor to forest conservation, and an important natural product for human health in Asia and around the world.

Long term objectives

  • To increase the knowledge, capacity and connectivity of forest honey gatherers and beekeepers of native bees in Asia towards improving community livelihoods and forest conservation benefits 
  • To provide a venue for exchange among Asian Native bee stakeholders towards improving value chains, stimulating research and supporting networking, solidarity and collaboration 


  • Ho Chih Minh City, Vietnam for the Science Panel and Conference (Hotel venue to be announced)
  • U Minh Ha National Park for the Field Visit 

Indicative schedule 

November 5, Sunday  Day 0 Travel to Ho Chih Minh City 
November 6, Monday Day 1   Morning: Internal Program with Country Partners  Afternoon: Madhu Duniya 5 opening Science Panel in Ho Chih Minh City Film Showing 
November 7, Tuesday Whole day: Conference Day 1 – Thematic Discussions 
November 8, Wednesday Whole day: Conference Day 2 – Parallel Sessions 
November 9, Thursday Morning: Visit to the office and laboratory of the Southern Institute of Ecology and honey market or commercial Apis cerana beekeeping   Afternoon: Travel to middle province stop towards the Mekong Delta via bus (around 5 hours) 
November 10, Friday Whole day: Bus from middle province stop to Ca Mau – U Minh Ha National Park – to visit the rafter beekeeper community and see the Mekong Delta Recommendations and Planning Closing 
November 11, Saturday Whole day: Travel back to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi en route to home country/residence  

Call for paper and poster presentations 

We are pleased to announce that we invite paper and poster presentations for the upcoming Madhu Duniya 2023 event, which will focus on the diverse and critical topics surrounding Asian honey bees. The conference themes will cover a wide range of issues including the impact of climate change on native bees and honey flow, quality parameters for honey, labeling schemes such as Forest Harvest Collective Mark (FHCM) and other Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), protocols for A. cerana and A. dorsata, monitoring and evaluation of bee population and status of A. dorsata in different Asian countries, pollen analysis and pollen atlas, market analysis and marketing strategies in the Asian region, and conservation and tourism.  

We welcome submissions of original research, case studies, and innovative ideas related to these themes from researchers, practitioners, and scholars from all over the world. We look forward to your contributions and participation in what promises to be an exciting and informative event. 

More details on paper and poster submissions will be up on the website soon. 

With a range of engaging activities including talks, workshops, tastings, and tours, you’ll have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge and appreciation of Asian forest honey and bees and the important role it plays in our environment, health, and culture. Don’t miss out on this sweet and unique experience – mark your calendars for Madhu Duniya 2023 and bookmark this page to view announcements and updates on this upcoming event. 


More details about the event, including registration, price, travel details, speakers, and topics will be announced at a later date. For inquiries, please contact


Madhu Duniya 2023 shall feature, among others, the following themes and topics: 

  1. Climate change effect on native bees and honey flow, including discussions on monitoring and evaluation of bee population and status of A. dorsata in different Asian countries 
  1. Forest Harvest Collective Mark (FHCM), Quality Parameters, and other Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) labelling schemes  
  1. Protocols and Standards for A. cerana and A. dorsata 
  1. Pollen analysis and pollen atlas 
  1. Market analysis and marketing strategies in the Asian region, including discussions on conservation and tourism 

Climate change effect on bees, honey flow 

Through cross-pollination, bees allow 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of the world’s wild plants to thrive. Without bees, many plants would die off, jeopardizing many sources of food. Colony collapse disorder brought global attention to the importance and the fragility of bee populations. 

Now, the vulnerability of bees has been exposed due to the observed impacts of climate change. A new study in Europe and North America shows that since the 1970s, 190 miles have been clipped from the southern travel range of bumblebee species, meaning they are not going as far south2. This means bees (that enjoy cooler temperatures) are staying in Northern areas (cooler climates) across Europe and North America, which reduces their ability to cross-pollinate. This could lead to large bands of land failing to receive adequate cross-pollination. 

In Northern America, studies have shown that climate change, particularly extreme heat, can alter the scents and colors of plants making it more difficult bees to find pollen and nectar. Habitat loss has shrunk resulting in decreasing hive areas. Climate change causes also the loss in synchronicity bee hatching times with flowering seasons and have dire effects on pollination functions affecting agricultural production resulting in food shortages. Increase in climate temperatures has mean bees and other insects may be more at risk to disease and parasites which thrive in warmer temperatures.

In Asia, especially in South and Southeast Asia, there has not been enough research across the years to make conclusions about the impact of climate change on honey bees. But interviews with Asian Bee Researcher, Eric Guerin provides insights. Through his research over the years, forest fires, high unseasonal temperatures, early rains, and severe droughts have grave impacts on native honey bee populations and on honey production. Forest Fires increasing in frequency and intensity due to extended droughts and high temperatures  are likely to impact honey bee populations through colony destruction, bee forage depletion and the subsequent decline in swarms (IPBES. 2018). 

Interviews with honey hunters in Mondulkiri, Cambodia in show low honey yields despite an abundance of Apis dorsata colonies. Honey hunters associate this with early rainy season. “Early rains may have leached nectar from the leaves, depriving bee colonies from a usually abundant resource during the seasons” (personal interview Eric Guerin January 25, 2023). This has also affected honey production. In Indonesia, wetter climates have been reported leading to food resources decline of Apis dorsata populations, largely as a failure to produce new queens ( Kahono, S. 2011). Decline in honey production was also witnessed. 

Water source is crucial to the survival of bee colonies and severe droughts can thus trigger early bee migration. Both in Mondulkiri  (personal interview Eric Guerin Jan 25, 2023) and in the Himalayas (CaraDonna, P.J., A.M. Iler, and D.W. Inouye. 2014) , Apis dorsata and Apis cerana  respectively migrated or swarmed earlier.  

Climate change is also affecting the quality of the floral environment (Kahono S., Chantawannakul P., and Engel M.S. (2018). Forest fires are resulting in the death of bee plants or lower nectar flow. Finally, similar to North American and European studies, Asian honey bees may also be affected by increasing temperatures which enhances the spread of disease and pathogens (Le Conte Y. and Navajas M. 2008 and Reddy P.V.R., Varghese, A. and Rajan V.V. 2012) 

FHCM and other PGS labelling schemes  

The Forest Harvest Collective Mark (FHCM) aims to guarantee the forest and community source, sustainability and the good product quality of a variety of products harvested by communities from the forest. It covers all NTFPs from the forest whether domesticated or wild. The mark guarantees three parameters: (1) Traceability; (2) Sustainability and (3) Good Quality.  

The FHCM is an initiative of the Non-timber Forest Products – Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) and its partners. It was an initiative launched in 2015. Collective Marks are signs used to distinguish certain valued characteristics common to the members of an association or cooperative. It is hoped that FHCM will be useful in assisting envisioned members to differentiate their products from others and will assist in making efficient marketing activities which will then be done collectively. Though FHCM envisions to cover a range of product categories, the first product standards that were developed were on forest honey (Apis dorsata). The first small business to be audited and certified using the FHCM A dorsata standards was Hutan Lestari honey producer group in Sumbawa island in Indonesia. They sell honey with the brand “3 lebah” or 3 bees. Since 2021, Vietnamese producer groups (Lam Dong and Gia Lai provinces ) have also started to evaluate themselves against the FHCM standards. In Sept 2022 the Dung’kno community in Lam Dong province upgraded their honey processing facilities and conducted a pre-FHCM audit processes with the aim of meeting the FHCM standards and being to use the FHCM label for marketing purposes. 

It is important to share the results of this community forestry labelling model and to discuss the challenges and opportunities it provides to forest honey gatherer groups. FHCM is one labelling initiative, others have been developed for forest honey communities and these can also be shared during MD 5. 

Protocols for honey – A. dorsata, A. cerana 

In 2020, the ASEAN Guidelines on Sustainable Harvest and Management Protocols for select NTFPs was approved by the ASEAN Ministers in Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF). These guidelines serve as a primary reference for NTFP management protocols in the region to further guarantee sustainable management of NTFP resources for markets and relevant stakeholders.  

The guidelines included protocols for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as bamboo, rattan, forest honey (Apis dorsata), resins, and fruits. These guidelines were made with the support of NTFP-EP. They seek to ensure the sustainable utilization and conservation of important NTFPs in the region. The conservation of bee species is thus crucial and ASEAN did best to include forest honey as one of the first NTFPs to develop sustainable management guidelines for.

It has been the interest of NTFP-EP and ASEAN Member States (AMS) to expand the list to include protocols on sustainable harvest management of other important NTFPs. In 2021, NTFP-EP received funding support from the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) for a project on “Promoting values of Biodiversity-based Products (BBPs) through sustainable protocols and community forestry labelling processes.” This made it possible for virtual consultations to be held exploring the topic of expanding FHCM standards and the NTFP protocols to include A. cerana bee species. 

A preliminary document was borne out of the sharing and consultation session by experts who pooled together their expertise and experiences towards the development of sustainable harvest protocols for Apis cerana honey. The inputs from the session is also meant to feed into the standards for the Forest Harvest Collective Mark (FHCM). In Madhu Duniya 2023, we hope to continue to build on these inputs to further support the conservation initiatives of community-based honey harvesters who deal with A. cerana and initiate a process on A. cerana protocols to be endorsed by the ASEAN. 

Pollen analysis, pollen atlas  

In Madhu Duniya 2019, a pollen analysis session was held to explore the characterization of honey from the various participating Asian countries. The idea of a South-Southeast Asian-wide characterization study of honey through pollen analysis and the compilation of a pollen atlas3 of native Asian bees was discussed during the session. Since then, analyses has been made on sample honeys from different parts of Asia.

Although the vision of a pollen atlas for Asian forest honey has yet to materialize, steps have been taken to partner with experts and laboratories to further understand the characterization of Asian forest honeys.

Results of tests from analyses done by QSI Germany and tropical bee consultant Evert Jan Robberts will be presented during Madhu Duniya 2023. It is hoped that this will be a jump-off point for further discussions on how pollen analysis can be done in a participatory way at the local level and eventually consolidating these into a regional pollen atlas focused on Asian forest honey.  

Market Analysis and Market Strategies 

Asian Forest Honey has various values associated with it including medicinal values, sustainable forest management values and cultural values to name a few. But considering that forest honey is not well known nor even recognized in certain regions, marketing then poses a challenge. Though marketing attempts of Forest Honey in several countries had quite good results initially, such institutional partnerships borne more than a decade ago, are much less in recent times. 

That being said, though the pandemic has raised the awareness for improved immunity that can be provided through forest honey, the marketing landscape has changed in the past few years. Digital technology has taken over the scene and recent players are now not so visible. A review of the current forest honey market structure is then important. This will assist in designing marketing strategies that will support small beekeepers and forest honey gatherers. These themes will be discussed in Madhu Duniya 5.  

The pandemic has changed the behavior of consumers all over the world and accelerated the transition of markets to digital and online platforms. This has brought about new challenges as well as opportunities to community-based NTFP enterprises (CBNE), including honey groups.  In order to remain competitive in the market, CBNE need to be up to speed with current market trends and tools.  The Marketing Track of Madhu Duniya 5 will provide participants an opportunity to be updated and to and exchange information and strategies with colleagues and experts from the regions. The track will include topics that responds to the current marketing needs of participating groups, as well as developing initiatives such as the community-led product guarantee, the Forest Harvest Collective Mark, Marketing Tools for Social Forestry Products, including Digital Marketing, that will be published by the ASEAN Social Forestry Group.  

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