Posts tagged ‘meliponiculture’

Pollinator Profile: Stingless ‘Trigona’ Honeybees

trigona on aloeThese neat little bees can be found in the neotropics and Indo-Australian tropical region. This is another genus, like Melipona, that contains social bees that make honey and don’t sting. All female bees have stingers, but the stingers on these bees are so small that they don’t work for stinging. Check out the post on Melipona to learn more about this group of bees!

Species of Trigona live in hives, like European honeybees, and can be found in cavities in trees or underground. The queen is the mother and the only bee in the hive that reproduces. The workers are her daughters, which do all the nest maintenance, bring home food, and raise their sisters. Males are only produced at a certain time of year, when new queens are produced. Males and new queens leave the nest to find mates, then the males die and the mated queens start their own hive.

Meliponiculture is the management of bees in the genera Melipona and Trigona, and was traditionally important to Mayan culture in Mexico. Beekeepers would locate wild hives of these bees and bring them to their homes, where they provided the hive with a log in which to nest. The bees provided honey and pollination services for agricultural crops. Sadly, this beekeeping practice has become very rare. Watch a beautiful video about meliponiculture in this post: Mayan beekeeping video.

Nowadays, Trigona species are important pollinators for wild plants and agricultural crops in the tropics. They are key pollinators of macadamia, coconut, mango, and chayote. These bees also play a smaller role in pollination of coffee, avocados, and guava (to name just a few). The Trigona worker in the photo above is visiting an aloe flower (yep, the stuff in lotion) in Costa Rica. Read an article on Trigona as crop pollinators for more information!

Tell us about what the Trigona bees in your area visit in the comments below!

Check out the YouTube channel for video clips I made of stingless bees in Costa Rica!

If you like this post, sign up for the free e-newsletter and get weekly updates and FREE STUFF! Check out similar posts in the Stingless Honeybees, Bees, and Beekeeping categories!

Learn more about honey-making bees and human culture all over the world with Dr. Stephen Buchmann’s enjoyable book: Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind. Order your copy today by clicking on the title or the image below!

Add comment September 27, 2011

Book Review: Letters from the Hive

Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind is an exploration of the importance of honey-making bees to human cultures worldwide and throughout our history. Sound information is presented in an accessible storytelling manner, coupled with a sense of adventure that I think could charm any reader. I really enjoyed author Dr. Stephen Buchmann’s accounts of Mayan beekeeping in Mexico, honey harvests in Asia, and even ideas for a honey-tasting party! Order your copy today by clicking on the title above, or the image below!

If you like this post, check out others in the Beekeeping category, and see more of my favorite books on the Product Reviews page!

Get FREE STUFF and weekly post updates when you sign-up for the free e-newsletter!

Add comment September 22, 2011

Pollinator Profile: Stingless ‘Melipona’ Honeybees

melipona workersStingless honeybees, you ask? Indeed! Well…they actually DO have stingers, but they’re so small that they don’t work! AND they make honey!

There are at least two genera (plural of genus) of stingless honeybees, and I’ll talk about another (Trigona) in another post. The Melipona are found all over the New World tropics- from Mexico into Argentina! They’re important pollinators of Vanilla planifolia… the orchid from which we get vanilla! So thank these little bees the next time you make cookies or enjoy ice cream!

These bees live in hives, similar to European honeybees, with a queen as the mother and the only one that reproduces. Her daughters are the workers that take care of all the hive maintenance, feeding, and cleaning. And there are males, the drones, that spread the queen’s genes to other hives (i.e., all they do is mate).

Melipona were kept by the Maya for their honey and crop pollination services. This practice is called Meliponiculture and, unfortunately, it is now rarely found outside a few villages on the Yucatán peninsula. Check out Dr. Stephen Buchmann’s beautiful video about Mayan beekeeping that I linked to in a previous post to learn more.

Don’t forget to visit the YouTube channel to see some clips I made of Melipona in Costa Rica!

Get FREE STUFF when you subscribe to the free e-newsletter! And visit the Bees and Beekeeping categories to read more fun stuff about bees!

I love Dr. Stephen Buchmann’s book, Letters from the Hive! Order your copy today to read about honey-making bees of all kinds, all over the world!

Add comment September 21, 2011

Older Posts

Nature Blog Network
Blog of the Week Badge


December 2011
« Nov    

Posts by Month

Posts by Category

Shop native seeds and plants at!

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.