Have you noticed that there is a lot of honey in Tulum? If you are not asked by a wandering sales man or woman to buy a honey product, honey is found in many of the local stores. There are honey candies, bee pollen, local honey in jars, bees wax candles, and more!
Honey is deeply routed in the history of Mayan culture
Melipona bees or meliponine bees in english, are stingless bees used to make these various honey products found throughout the town of Tulum, and the Yucatan. The Mayan name for these bees are Xunan kab and means ‘royal lady’. The bee is sacred in the Mayan culture with some academics arguing that the descending god on the Mayan temples was actually a the bee god Ah-Muzen-Cab.
The Melipona bees build their hives in hollow logs and tree trunks. Their honey production is low but unlike other bees they do work year round. The bee keepers in the Yucatan think of their bees as sacred and treat them like pets. When a bees nest is found, the log is cut, the ends sealed with mud or clay and the hive in its original home is brought back to the house where the honey bees are encouraged to produce honey.
The Melipona bees are also great pollinators of mango trees and assist in the development of large mango crops. It is not unusual to see honey and mangoes produced on the same ranch.
Melipona bees are becoming extinct in the Yucatan
With new harvesting practices introduced to the Yucatan, and pollutants rising, the Melipona bees are decreasing in numbers and being replaced with African honey bees to continue the cycle of honey production and pollination. Close tot he town of Tulum is the famous Honey shop where local Mayan communities sell their various honey products from teh Melipona bees and distribute to the larger economic centers of Merida, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cancun. It is worth the stop if you are travelling on the Coba road.
Health benefits and properties of honey
The melipona bee products have many health benefits that Mayans still to this day in their cure for every day illnesses. Digestive disorders, stomach ailments, healing of cuts, respiratory infections and skin problems are some of the health issues melipona honey can help resolve. Where the bees pollinate their honey and the planets where the pollen is gathered directly effects the medicinal quality and resolved ailments of the harvested nectar.
When visiting Tulum think about taking a little trip out to the Honey store on the coba road or buying local honey products to support not only the local Mayan culture but support your own health. Honey is one product that can taken over international boarders without any issues!
Read about our support of sustainable tourism at Casa de las Olas where we support community, the environment, local cultures and the local economy of Tulum and the Yucatan.