Actual situation of stingless beekeeping

Since pre-Hispanic times the Mayan and Nahua ethnic groups of Central America bred stingless bees for their honey and wax. This type of beekeeping, which is called "meliponiculture", was a well-developed enterprise at the time of the Spanish conquest.

Bee stands with hundreds of colonies of Melipona beecheii supplied honey and wax for exportation to Europe. To this day, peasant farmers continue to keep stingless bees in forest areas. Melipona beecheii is still the preferred species for husbandry, while some eight more species are being kept in the home gardens. The honey, wax and pollen of almost all the other stingless bee species are collected in the forest. 

"White honey" from the flower commonly known as "Xukinay"

"White honey" from the flower commonly known as "Xukinay"

The honey of certain species is considered highly medicinal and one bottle is sold for prices that equal three daily wages paid for agricultural labor. Research confirms that the honey of Melipona beecheii has a high antibiotic activity. 
However, despite the popularity of stingless bees among rural beekeepers, the practice is declining swiftly due to massive deforestation, altered agricultural practices and rustic beekeeping practices. Although these practices were once adaptive to maintain a flourishing enterprise, they are no longer sufficient to cope with the changed ecological environment of the bees. Particularly those bee species that depend on cavities in trees for their nest-sites have declined. Melipona beecheii is now in danger of extinction.

 

Top Last update: 26-Mar-2009
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