MAYAN MELIPONA STINGLESS BEE HONEY
Mayan Melipona Stingless Bee Honey. Melipona is a genus of stingless bees, widespread in warm areas of the Neotropics, from Sinaloa and Tamaulipas to Tucumán and Misiones.
Biological and therapeutic effects of stingless bees.
Honey is a natural product produced by both honey bees and stingless bees. Both types of honey contain unique and distinct types of phenolic and flavonoid compounds of variable biological and clinical importance. Honey is one of the most effective natural products used for wound healing.
In this review, the traditional uses and clinical applications of both honey bee and stingless bee honey – such as :
- cardioprotective properties
- the treatment of eye disorders
- gastrointestinal tract diseases
- neurological disorders
- and fertility disorders and wound healing activity are described.
Modern Maya Beekeeping
Indigenous Yucatec and Chol in the Yucatan peninsula today still practice beekeeping on communal lands, using modified traditional techniques. Bees are kept in hollow tree sections called jobón, with the two ends closed by a stone or ceramic plug and a central hole through which bees can enter. The jobón are stored in a horizontal position and the honey and wax are retrieved a couple times a year by removing the end plugs, called panuchos.
Typically the average length of the modern Maya jobon is between 50-60 centimeters (20-24 inches) long, with a diameter of about 30 cm (12 in) and walls more than 4 cm (1.5 in thick). The hole for the bee entryway is typically less than 1.5 cm (.6 in) in diameter. At the Maya site of Nakum, and in a context firmly dated to the late pre-classic period between 300 B.C.E.–C.E. 200, was found a ceramic jobon (or quite possibly an effigy).
Archaeology of Maya Beekeeping
The jobon from the Nakum site is smaller than modern ones, measuring only 30.7 cm long (12 in), with a maximum diameter of 18 cm (7 in) and an entry hole only 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter. The external walls are covered with striated designs. It has removable ceramic panuchos at each end, with diameters of 16.7 and 17 cm (about 6.5 in).
The difference is size may be a result of the different bee species being taken care of and protected.
The labor associated with beekeeping is mostly protection and custodial duties; keeping the hives away from animals (mostly armadillos and raccoons) and the weather. That is achieved by stacking the hives in an A-shaped frame and building a thatch-roofed palapa or lean-to over the whole: beehives are typically found in small groups near residences.
Maya Bee Symbolism
Because most of the materials used to make beehives—wood, wax, and honey—are organic, archaeologists have identified the presence of beekeeping at pre-Columbian sites by the recovery of paired panuchos. Artifacts such as incense burners in the shapes of beehives, and images of the so-called Diving God, likely a representation of the bee god Ah Mucen Cab, have been found on the walls of temples at Sayil and other Maya sites.
The Madrid Codex (known to scholars as the Troano or Tro-Cortesianus Codex) is one of the few surviving books of the ancient Maya. Among its illustrated pages are male and female deities harvesting and collecting honey, and conducting various rituals associated with beekeeping.
The Aztec Mendoza Codex shows images of towns giving jars of honey to the Aztecs for tribute.
Current Status of American Bees
While beekeeping is still a practice by Maya farmers, because of the introduction of the more productive European honeybee, the loss of forest habitat, the Africanization of honey bees in the 1990s, and even climate change bringing destructive storms into the Yucatan, stingless beekeeping has been severely reduced. Most of the bees farmed today are European honey bees.
Those European honey bees (Apis mellifera) were introduced in the Yucatan in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Modern apiculture with bees and using moveable frames began to be practiced after the 1920s and making Apis honey became a principal economic activity for the rural Maya area by the 1960s and 1970s. In 1992, Mexico was the fourth largest honey producer in the world, with an average annual production of 60,000 metric tons of honey and 4,200 metric tons of beeswax. A total of 80% of the beehives in Mexico are kept by small farmers as a subsidiary or hobby crop.
Although stingless bee farming was not actively pursued for decades, today there is a regrowth in interest and a sustained effort by enthusiasts and indigenous farmers who are beginning to restore the practice of stingless bee farming to the Yucatan.
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- #stinglessbeehoney #honey bee
The melipona bee is in danger of extinction, and to consume this honey promotes conservation and the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula where their hives inhabit.