Monday, September 26, 2022

The importance of Melipona bees to gastronomy, traditional medicine, and Mexican cultures

We can assure you that we have all healed ourselves with honey more than once, we love its taste, but few of us know that there are thousands of species of bees and each of them In nature, medicine and gastronomy have different purposes. Let’s take a tour of the characteristics of Mexican Melipona bees.

What is the difference between Melipona bees

melipona bee

A stingless bee visits a basil inflorescence / Photo: Lazaro Arroyo

According to Lázaro Arroyo, coordinator of projects at the Ecosur B team (College of the Southern Frontier), San Cristóbal de las Casas, Meliponiculture in Chiapas:

“There are about 20,000 species of bees known around the world, of which 550 Melipona or stingless species stand out.

We have about 2,000 species in Mexico, 46 ​​of which have no sting.

All these native bees are spread all over the country. For example, in Yucatan, melipona beecheiKnown as the sacred Maya bee Junan Kabi,

These stingless species have been cultivated for hundreds of years by native peoples, who held them sacred for the healing properties of their honey.

Bees were so valued that our pre-Hispanic ancestors held four to six ceremonies a year in their honor and used their honey to pay tribute.

And what makes Meliponas different?

melipona bee

melipona bee

melipona beecheivisit the inflorescence Vernonia Spa / Photo: Lazaro Arroyo

Melipona bees produce pollen, wax, propolis and pollinate, but only They make one and a half liters of honey a year, Compared to European bees, which produce up to 30 liters.

“This is due to the size of the population that can be found in a Melipona hive, for example, in the case of melipona beecheioscillates between 1000 and 3,000 individuals in the hive”.

“While an Apis mellifera hive may contain between 20,000 and 60,000 individuals,” explains Luis Martínez, Doctoral Student in Science, Specialization in Ecology, Ecology Institute, AC (INECOL) site Bajio Regional Centerand CEO wild bee project,

Although Melipona honey is low in production, which greatly increases its cost, its medicinal properties have been used since ancient times.

Variety of Melipona Bees in Mexico

melipona bee

melipona bee

Mexican scaptotriogon Visiting Coffee Inflorescences (coffee arabic) / Photo: Lazzaro Arroyo

There are a large number of species of Melipona bees found in Mexico. are among the most used tetragonisalso known as maiden, melipona solaniThe Scaptotrigona helvegeri u Mexican Skeptotrigonain puebla, Melipona Yucatanicain Yucatan; melipona fasciatain Oaxaca, or in Puebla, and melipona beechei in Campeche.

The best known and managed species in Mexico are Melipona beechei, Melipona yucatenica, You Mexican Skeptotrigona,

The sensory and chemical characteristics of their honey have to do with the type of flora in their regions.

If we talk about the sensory features that distinguish one honey from another:

“We can say, for example, the honey of melipona beechei while sweet Mexican Skeptotrigona And this melipona solaniThey are slightly more acidic.

There is great diversity in terms of colours, due precisely to the flora, species of bee and the amount of moisture present in each type of honey.

Each bee also has biological characteristics that add characteristics to each type of honey, in addition to some symbiotic relationships bees have with certain microorganisms that benefit the stability and nutritional characteristics of honey.

Medicinal uses of Melipona honey

melipona bee

melipona bee

View of brood cells, stingless bee Scaptotrigona mexicana (Scaptotrigona mexicana)) / Photo: Lazzaro Arroyo

The use of Melipona honey is covered in two very important books for Maya culture: Chilam Balam De Chumayel You Bacabes. ritual ofBoth Maya texts written after the conquest, in which they have obtained abundant information about the use of honey.

These honeys are used, mainly in traditional medicine, to cure certain ailments, such as eye problems, removing carnoses, dry eyes and cataracts.

They also help with wound healing, prevent the growth of harmful bacteria for pregnant women and after giving birth, as they provide energy.

Some of the remedies commonly passed on in Mexican culture are using honey to ease gastritis problems, fasting, one teaspoon twice a day.

Or as a remedy for diseases of the throat, as it helps in expelling phlegm when mixed with lemon.

They also work to treat diseases of the ear, skin, mouth and internal organs, calm fevers and reduce bites from insects and poisonous animals such as lizards and snakes.

Recipes contained in El Ritual de los Bacabes also suggest that the Mayans used honey for disorders of the respiratory, digestive, circulatory and immune systems.

Some Gastronomic Uses of Melipona Honey

melipona bee

melipona bee

One of the tonics in Trophology is a combination of ginger, honey and lemon. // photo: special.

To exemplify the tradition of consuming Melipona honey in Yucatan Saka, which means corn in Maya, preparation of nixtamalized corn with water.

The drink used to have a ritual character and was dedicated to Chac, the god of rain, to favor the fields with rain, and it is still prepared at planting time in Mayan communities.

Other dishes we see on a daily basis across the country are amaranth alegria from Tlaxcala, chilitole From the Buuelos of Michoacán or Veracruz.

It is also present in ancestral dishes and beverages that are prepared in some regions.

they highlight atlaquetzalliwith cocoa, he paidAlong with Mecca and Coco or Nugget Atoll, all are from the Valley of Mexico, so they come from Mexico and Teotihuacanos.

melipona bee

melipona bee

Isabel Chiapas / Photo: Lázaro taking honey samples from a pastoral colony with Arroyo to Meliponiculturist

The task force that Lazzaro coordinates is in charge of training meliponiculturists to learn about honey, its properties. They have been working with indigenous cooperatives for 20 years.

Lazzaro tells us: “In this accompaniment we have the opportunity to study the characteristics of each type of honey, how they affect the area, bee species and blooms, as well as the microscopic features that are caused by the influence of microscopic features. are climate change.

Lazzaro and Isabel are part of the honey, diversity and taxonomy, pollination, monitoring and analysis team within a multidisciplinary team of approximately 25 people.

In addition to doing science, they also have to bring information Functional to communities through training processes in organic agriculture and ecological culture.

“It’s not just about teaching them about bees, but by recognizing the knowledge of the people they know in their communities, and starting from there.”

Spread the work of Ecosur’s Bee Team in cooperatives

melipona bee

melipona bee

Luis Raul Martínez García / Photo: Luis Martínez

It is clear that dissemination of this work in these communities is not as easy as it may be in cities with more infrastructure.

This work is done by students such as Luis Martinez to spread knowledge about native bees, their management, ecology and science among the Abajas team and cooperatives.

Louis says: “As this emerges, we are joining many more people who prepare the proposal. It is important that the general public learn about the existence of these bees.”

“Management of fields and agriculture are crucial to ensuring the survival of native bees in Mexico. We need to make noise to ensure conservation,” he says.

Bees Are Involved in (Almost) Everything We Eat

melipona bee

melipona bee

Frames and hives of Apis mellifera bees / Photo: Luis Martinez

Bees pollinate and in Mexico they are taking advantage of up to 85% of the fruit and seeds that we eat in the country, as up to 90% of wild flowers depend on pollination.

It is known that for tropical crops, up to 70% depend entirely on it, such as pumpkin, watermelon, melon, vanilla, passion fruit, macadamia nut.

Chewing gum, avocado or apple can have up to 90% pollination dependency with bee assisted.

Others such as coffee, strawberries, guava, nopal, mustard, cotton and soybeans depend on only between 10% and 39%.

Although these latter crops do not have as much reliance on pollinators, the quality, number of fruits and their size are better than without insect-assisted pollination.

Bee is not equal to honey, bee is equal to field

melipona bee

melipona bee

From left to right stingless honey voxels: Melipona yucatenica (Guatemala), Melipona fasciata (Oaxaca), Melipona solani (Chiapas), Melipona beechei (Quintana Roo), Scaptotrigona pectoralis (Chiapas), Scaptotrigona mexicana (Omelitanigra) Nannotrigona perylampoides (Chiapas), Tetragonisca angustula (Chiapas) / Photo: Daniela Gallardo

Lewis concludes: “We must consider that the equation is not equivalent to honeybees, but rather regional management resulting from the management of Melipona bees and other solitary native bees.”

“By focusing on Melipona bees, we also study geographic expression, vegetation, culture, l.He goes beyond honey as a product, specific dishes and medicines from each region”.

If you want to learn more about Melipona bees and other pollinators, attend this weekend Forum celebrating our Pollinator 2022 in Patzcuaro, Michoacana,

And if you want to know more about Types of Honey Produced in Mexico, Stop Here,

Nation World News Desk
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