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Mayan stingless bee keeping: Going, going, gone?

re. Africanized honey bees produce more honey, and therefore are an economically attractive option for bee keepers. In the Mayan tradition, a priest harvested stingless bee honey as part of a religious ceremony twice a year. Over harvesting kills the colony. Native bees may simply starve as deforestation, forest fragmentation and hurricanes reduce the availability of the floral resources they need.

Finally, most of the bee keepers on the Yucatan are old men living in rural areas where no one inherits their knowledge of the fine points of meliponiculture, specifically, how to propagate bees by dividing nests. Earlier this year, Rogel Villanueva-Gutierrez, first author of the paper, with Stephen Buchmann, Arthur James Donovan and Roubik published an amply illustrated handbook, in Spanish and Mayan, with step by step instructions for basic stingless beekeeping.

The authors of this paper originally submitted their manuscript to a number of conservation journals who, in Roubik's words: "told us that there are so many extinctions, that they are not even reporting them anymore." The article, presenting a very cogent conservation strategy for saving the Mayan 'royal lady', will appear in the June, 2005, "Bee World," published by the International Bee Research Association.


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Source:Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


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