Stingless bees are a large group of bees of over 500 species, comprising the tribe Meliponini. They can be found in most tropical and subtropical areas, including Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and tropical America. But the most ancient relationship between stingless bees and humans is likely to be here, in the land of Yucatan, where the Mayan people for thousands of years have domesticated various native stingless bees, but Melipona Beecheii, or, in Mayan language, Xunan Cab (“royal lady bee”), was their favorite. In fact, bees were once the subject of religious ceremonies and were a symbol of the bee-god Ah Muzen Cab, known from the Madrid Codex. The honey extracted was sacredly used for ceremonies, food, and medicine. Meliponini honey has many medicinal properties, and has been used for centuries to prevent cataract, cure conjunctivitis, pterygion, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, wounds, fatigue and skin ulcers. Another common use of Melipona honey is that of delivery enhancer and post-birth recovery, which might be the reason this bee has been considered a goddess for so many generations. There are twenty thousands species of trees in Yucatan, a third of which have medicinal properties - each specie of bees likes different trees, which may be the reason why each type of honey has different taste and use.
The easiest way to help is not to harm
Native stingless bees, as most tropical animals, depend on the forest, not only as a food resource but also for shelter. In fact, Meliponini bees choose one hollow tree trunk and live there their entire lives. As deforestation keeps on growing, their colonies and homes have no chance of survival. The only tree-home they know is cut down and is either taken as construction or fire wood, or left exposed to natural enemies on the ground.
More than 90% of deforestation is sponsored by our consumption of animal products, especially beef and dairy. So, the easiest way to avoid bringing bees and other species to extinction, and to lower our carbon footprint, is just by transitioning to a more plant-based, sustainable and healthy diet.
Other factors to consider are the introduction of the European bee by the Spaniards, its Africanization in the 90’s in Brazil, and the large scale use of pesticides and fertilizers, which the bees collect and bring to their hives, which then are poisoned and die.
Cozumel, as part of Yucatan, was deeply rooted into the Mayan tradition. Therefore, Meliponicultura (or stingless beekeeping) was quite popular on the island, which used to produce big amounts of Meliponini honey. Until the conquest, modernization, and urban development have now put them at a high danger of extinction; on the island, and in the rest of the world.
Our mission consists of 4 parts:
Rescue as many bee hives as possible from areas that are in the process of deforestation
To respread stingless beekeeping on the island by creating a Meliponicultura course that will allow locals to have their own stingless bee hives
Research and experiment the function of Meliponini honey (and pollen) as a healing product for cataract, conjunctivitis, respiratory and gastronomic problems, and other diseases
Spread awareness about stingless bees through social media, events and sales.
To support our mission on the island, you can send us a donation through Paypal