Long before Europeans brought honey bees to the Americas, Mayan beekeepers harvested honey from the log nests of stingless bees native to tropical forests. Mayans were experts of beekeeping and used honey as a sweetener, as an antibiotic, as an ingredient in the Mayan version of mead, and as a commercial currency. The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico has kept the ancient traditions and customs parts of its daily life.
Just like the milpa, meliponiculture – stingless beekeeping – is a heritage from the Mayan grandparents. Doña Nevy, who is part of the community of producers of the Xunankab bee honey Presidia (Melipona Beecheii), performs a ritual every year asking for flowering and food for her bees. Also, now with her Presidia partners, she has taken up an ancient Mayan celebration in which various offerings are made to thank for the harvest. Melipona honey is attributed a great number of benefits and is used to treat eye, skin, digestive and respiratory problems. This stingless bee has a special relationship with the jungle since many plant species depend on it for pollination and therefore its reproduction, in the same way, the bee could not survive without the jungle.
Currently, Slow Food advocates for the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers”, which aims to phase out synthetic pesticides in Europe by 2035, to restore biodiversity and help farmers in transition, and so to save bees from extinction in Europe.
You can support the initiative by signing it here.