Gwen of the Bug Girl’s Blog has written a neat little story in Wired Science about the native Mexican stingless bee, Melipona beecheii.
“Women Work to Save Native Bees of Mexico” is about a group of women intent upon resurrecting the ancient art of stingless beekeeping in Central America. Their work is helping to save the bees and, at the same time, is supplementing the family income.
Once upon a time, stingless bees were common in Central America and average families kept them for their honey.
But stingless bees produce only a fraction of the honey that European honey bees produce. So with the introduction of Apis mellifera, stingless bees were abandoned in favor of greater honey returns.
Since that time, the stingless natives have encountered trouble. Pesticides, loss of their favorite forest habitats, and competition for pollen and nectar with European and Africanized honey bees have hurt the native bee population.
But now they are getting a boost. I urge you to read the article. It includes great photos and a short video of the women tending their bees.
I’ve heard many times that the honey of stingless bees tastes like nothing else on Earth. Whenever I read about them, I want to pack my bags and head south in search of just one little taste.