Melipona beecheii, “The Sacred Maya Bee”

The Melipona bee is a native species of the Yucatan Peninsula and is renowned for the therapeutic effects of its honey. For centuries, Mayan communities have raised these stingless bees and referred to them as the “Mayan sacred bee” due to the healing properties of their honey. The Mayans held these bees in such high regard that, in the pre-Hispanic era, they conducted four to six ceremonies in their honor each year.

These bees inhabit various tropical regions around the world. In the Americas, they can be found from Sinaloa and Tamaulipas in Mexico to Tucumán and Misiones in Argentina.

Among the products produced by these bees are honey, pollen, wax, and propolis, in addition to their valuable service as pollinators. A Melipona hive produces approximately one and a half liters of honey per year, although their production process is slower compared to European bees, which can produce up to 30 liters of honey in a year.

Despite their lower honey production, the honey from Melipona bees is highly beneficial due to its medicinal properties that boost the immune system and are used to treat ailments, wounds, burns, and diseases. It is also highly valued in the cosmetic industry, where it is used to create products such as soaps, creams, and talcum powders.

The pollen from Melipona bees has a protein content 50% higher than that of other bees. Through their role as pollinators, these bees contribute to higher yields in the production of fruits, seeds, and vegetables such as annatto, avocado, coffee, pumpkin, chayote, habanero chili, mango, cucumber, watermelon, and tomato.

Moreover, they are very beautiful; if you look closely, they have incredible colors and striking shapes.

In their language, the farmers call honey “kaab,” and they refer to pollen as “uta’anil lool.” The honey and pollen harvest is carried out twice a year, the first time from February to May and the second from October to December.

Although the Melipona bee is not endangered, much research is needed on the subject as they face several threats, such as deforestation, spraying, agrochemicals, and herbicides that kill the plants, which are their food.

In the magical town of Cobá, in Quintana Roo, you will find a true treasure that you can’t miss. It’s the sanctuary of the Melipona bee and Mayan cacao, where you will undoubtedly have an unforgettable experience. You’ll be in contact with nature and learn all about the Melipona bee. Additionally, you’ll discover a variety of natural products derived from honey that local artisans create for visitors.

Did you know… Melipona bees and their honey were subject to tribute payments, both before and after the arrival of the Spanish.