Caatinga Mandaçaia Bee Honey

Brazil

Bahia State

Breeds and animal husbandry

Honey

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Caatinga Mandaçaia Bee Honey

The Piemonte da Diamantina area, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, is dominated by the caatinga, literally “gray forest” in the indigenous Tupi-Guaraní language, an ecosystem found only in the country’s semi-arid region.
This ecosystem is home to the Melipona quadrifasciata anthidioides bee which is much larger than other bees from the same family, and can survive very hot temperatures.
Around 10 to 11 millimeters long, the stingless Mandaçaia bee (also known as Amanaçaí, Amanaçaia, Manaçaia and Mandaçaia-Grande) has a black head and thorax, rust-colored wings and an abdomen with yellow stripes that are wider than those on other species. The bees build their hives in hollow tree trunks, using a mix of mud and resin extracted from plants to build an entrance. The name Mandaçaia means “wonderful guard” in the indigenous language, and indeed if you look carefully at the entrance to their hives, you will always see one bee keeping guard.
The bees’ honey is liquid, with a multifloral, persistent fragrance, typical of the caatinga. It should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent fermentation.
Women and youth are mostly responsible for beekeeping, which is used to supplement the family income. In a good flowering season, each family can produce between 1 and 1.5 liters. Whether consumed at home or sold locally, the honey is used as a medicine as well as food, to treat flu, colds and respiratory problems.
Due to a long drought that has been affecting the ecosystem for the last 10 years, the local biodiversity and traditional food and agriculture have been seriously damaged. As a result, honey production has declined significantly and the Mandaçaia bee is at risk of extinction. Long periods of drought and desertification caused by poor use of the soil, as well as other social and ecological problems, have pushed this bee to the brink of extinction.

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The Presidium is the result of a collaboration between Slow Food and the Coopes cooperative to promote a sustainable food system by valuing community knowledge and local biodiversity. The project involves beekeepers, stingless beekeepers and licuri harvesters who belong to local associations and organizations.
The Presidium’s objective is to safeguard the Melipona quadrisciata from the risk of extinction and to protect the caatinga ecosystem. The Mandaçaia bee plays an essential role in pollinating native flora, particularly licuri palms. The Presidium has also been established to strengthen the existing Presidium for licuri, promoting the exchange of knowledge about pollinating the palm and sustainable practices for reproducing the bees. The plan is also to promote the use of the honey in local gastronomy, with the support of chefs in the network, so that the beekeepers have further incentives to diversify their activities.
The Piemonte da Diamantina Mandaçaia Bee Honey Presidium is a first step towards the strengthening of the network of stingless beekeepers in Brazil’s semi-arid region.

Production area
Piemonte da Diamantina and Bacia do Jacuípe areas, Bahia state

Presidium supported by
IFAD - International Fund for Agricultural Development
30 beekeepers belonging to Coopes and the Escola da Família Agrícola de Jabuticaba (EFA), quebradeiras from the Licuri Presidium and membersof the Movimento dos Pequenos Agriculturoes (MPA)

Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Valdivino Araújo Silva
dinoagro.mpa@gmail.com
tel. +55 74 98142 4610

Presidium Producers’ Coordinator
Cooperativa de Produção da Região do Piemonte da Diamantina (Coopes)
coopesvendas@hotmail.com
The Presidium is the result of a collaboration between Slow Food and the Coopes cooperative to promote a sustainable food system by valuing community knowledge and local biodiversity. The project involves beekeepers, stingless beekeepers and licuri harvesters who belong to local associations and organizations.
The Presidium’s objective is to safeguard the Melipona quadrisciata from the risk of extinction and to protect the caatinga ecosystem. The Mandaçaia bee plays an essential role in pollinating native flora, particularly licuri palms. The Presidium has also been established to strengthen the existing Presidium for licuri, promoting the exchange of knowledge about pollinating the palm and sustainable practices for reproducing the bees. The plan is also to promote the use of the honey in local gastronomy, with the support of chefs in the network, so that the beekeepers have further incentives to diversify their activities.
The Piemonte da Diamantina Mandaçaia Bee Honey Presidium is a first step towards the strengthening of the network of stingless beekeepers in Brazil’s semi-arid region.

Production area
Piemonte da Diamantina and Bacia do Jacuípe areas, Bahia state

Presidium supported by
IFAD - International Fund for Agricultural Development
30 beekeepers belonging to Coopes and the Escola da Família Agrícola de Jabuticaba (EFA), quebradeiras from the Licuri Presidium and membersof the Movimento dos Pequenos Agriculturoes (MPA)

Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Valdivino Araújo Silva
dinoagro.mpa@gmail.com
tel. +55 74 98142 4610

Presidium Producers’ Coordinator
Cooperativa de Produção da Região do Piemonte da Diamantina (Coopes)
coopesvendas@hotmail.com