Native bees, for an exceptional honey
There are around 20 000 species of bees in the world and most of them are solitary and do not live with colonies, queens, and worker bees. The subfamily Apinae (hymenoptera) contains four tribes which produce honey: Apini (domestic bees), Euglossini (orchid bees), Bombini (bumble bees), Meliponini (stingless bees).
In other words, honey production is not unique to Apis and other domestic honey bees, as honey is also produced by meliponine bees. A total of 397 specimens has been identified belonging to 33 species. These stingless bees were existing during the separation of continents 200 million years ago and have spread across the tropics.
Meliponines play the same role in crop pollination and honey production; they are crucial in the reproduction of the majority of plants in tropical areas. In the Amazon region, bees pollinate 38% of tropical plants (Kerr. et al., 1999).
Although the honey crop of Meliponines is smaller than the honey crop of Apis mellifera, it offers many other advantages:
- This rare, exceptional honey is more expensive
- It is well known for its high nutritional value and unique flavour
- It is believed to have healing properties
- For these reasons, it is a high-value product
Last but not least, meliponiculture helps for the preservation and use of untapped local resources such as the nectar of flowers. It is an additional agricultural and human activity boosting crop yields.
In 2016 this activity was launched with a pilot project of a dozen of farmers near the reserve. The success of this first project shall lead to increasing the number of beehives and the participation of children. A perfect activity to raise awareness among both adults and children about economic diversification and environmental conservation.