The munduri bee (Melipona asilvai) is found in the semi-arid region of the State of Bahia and is endemic to this fragile ecosystem. The bees are kept in a rudimentary manner, making them difficult to manage and use rationally, resulting in the loss of colonies. In the State of Bahia, munduri distribution covers the lower Caatinga area, and in coastal regions with high humidity, the development of colonies is normally jeopardized. The local population considers the bee to be cunning and timid.
The munduri bee displays a range of defensive behaviors, from a certain "timidity" that has been observed, with bees hiding when bothered, giving the impression that the colony has been abandoned, to extreme defensiveness using their jaws as a defense tool and wrapping themselves up in the observer’s hair. The entrance to the munduri colony follows the pattern of other species of the genus Melipona, consisting only of mud, distributed in semi-circles inside, allowing only one bee to pass at a time. On specific occasions, the entrance to the hive is sealed by the bees using mud and/or animal feces.
Munduri honey is produced sporadically in some local communities, as an additional source of income to their farming activities. This activity is carried out by women in particular in the areas of Juazeiro and Capim Grosso in the region of Piemonte da Chapada. Analyses of the relationship between population and production show that this species can, when kept in its region of origin and in rational hives, produce up to 1.5 liters per hive per year, on the basis of an average population of 1200 individuals. Munduri honey is currently produced for consumption at home and/or sold to order, both for its use as a food and for preparing medicines.
In the munduri’s natural environment, the semi-arid region of Bahia, the umburana or imburana tree (Amburana cearensis) is the preferred plant species for constructing the bees’ colonies. This species is also used by other bees, such as the mandaçaia and jandaíra. Other trees used by the munduri for nesting are: aroeira (Myracrodruon urundeuva), Brazil plum (Spondias tuberosa) and quixabeira (Sideroxylon obtusifolium). In recent years, there has been a decline in the Caatinga biome, with one reason being deforestation and forest burning. Another reason the species is facing extinction is the destruction of hives to consume the honey by meleiros. This is the name given to people who are only interested in the product and who do not use sustainable practices and techniques to harvest the honey.