Melipona Bee Honey

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

Melipona bee honey is a thick, sweet-sour liquid obtained from stingless bees of the genus Melipona. This honey is known for being less dense than that obtained from honeybees in the genus Apis, as its humidity levels are higher. Its color varies depending on the native flowers visited by these bees, ranging from nearly transparent to dark amber, and it features more nutritional and curative properties than honey from the common honeybee. Melipona bees feed on native plants whose flowers, rich in alkaloids and flavonoids, give the honey its highly medicinal properties. The extraction of honey differs from the one generally used in beekeeping, which consists of comb centrifugation. Melipona bees stock honey in sack-like wax structures that must be broken or crushed to extract the product. They are highly social bees that can form perennial colonies of thousands of individuals. Their nesting habits are unique and vary: They can build their hives in hollow trees and shrubs, or even in termite mounds within or under the ground.These bees produce small amounts of honey, but of excellent quality. It should also be noted that stingless bees are considered essential in the pollination of many native tropical ecosystems, therefore representing an important element in the conservation of forests. Melipona bee honey is mainly used as a sweetener, but it can also be consumed as a jam for breakfast, snacks or dessert and for medicinal purposes, especially for eye treatment. Melipona bees are native to the Americas where scientists have identified more than 350 species. These bees live in tropical and subtropical regions and before the arrival of settlers, who introduced the European honeybee (Apis mellifera), stingless bees were the only ones storing honey in colonies. They were reared by many indigenous cultures of South and Central America, who used their honey, wax, and pollen. Beekeeping was particularly important in Mayan culture, which developed interesting management processes. Nowadays, Melipona bees are disappearing as a result of human actions such as the destruction of native forests associated with the expansion of cultivated fields, the use of pesticides and the introduction of non-native species. They also suffer damages from people who have no knowledge of rearing stingless bees and destroy entire colonies while trying to extract the honey. Stingless beekeping is still surviving in the region formerly occupied by the Maya, although this activity has been severely hit by the massive disappearance of forests. In Argentina, stingless bees can be found from the northern provinces through the center of the republic, being more abundant in forested areas, such as the Atlantic forest, the Chaco, and the Yungas forest. Argentina has therefore a great potential for raising Melipona bees, since it is home to about 25 species, all with excellent production qualities. However, the limiting factor for the development of beekeeping is the absence of producers trained in the management and domestication of stingless bees. Currently, there are only a few farmers who practice farming bees and it is a reality that, in most urban areas, traditional knowledge about the uses and benefits of Melipona bee honey has been lost. These bees are in danger of extinction as well, due to the reduction of human contact with the natural environment.In Argentina there are currently some melipona bekeepers generally practicing bee farming on a small scale and low tech, keeping them in the original logs, which are removed from their original place (often leading to the death of the tree) and taken to their homes . Honey is periodically extracted from such corks, then the hive is covered with mud and a metal sheet to allow the colony to survive. Melipona bee honey can be found in small quantities in regional markets, especially in tourist resorts, as a craft product.

Back to the archive >




Other info