Yucatan Mangroves: the ideal habitat for the Melipona Bee

a white egret in swamp
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

Researchers from the United States and Mexico intend to cultivate melipona bee honey in this coastal region, to take advantage of the 97,000 hectares of mangrove swamps in Yucatan, announced Jorge Alfredo Herrera Silveira, a specialist from the Merida Unit of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav).

Therefore, the experimental stage of this pioneering project will begin at the end of this month, with the placement of around 40 boxes of these stingless bees in wetlands of Dzilam de Bravo and Progreso.

He emphasized that the State is in third place nationally in mangrove type wetlands with close to 97,000 hectares.

However, due to the proliferation of irregular settlements along the Yucatan coast, 100 hectares are degraded every year, in addition to the 20,000 hectares already affected.

In order to take advantage of the wetlands that are still preserved for the development of the Mangrove Honey project, researchers from Cinvestav-Merida, as well as from the Autonomous Universities of Yucatan (UADY) and the National University of Mexico (UNAM), and Michigan State University are participating.

He expressed that this initiative is part of the mangrove conservation and restoration actions being carried out in the state, and also includes women from the communities of Dzilam de Bravo and Chelem, known as “Las Chelemeras”.

He indicated that the experimental phase of the project begins at the end of February of this year, where they will place around 40 boxes of these stingless bees in wetlands of Dzilam de Bravo and Progreso, specifically in black mangrove, so that the bees can feed on the flowers of this plant formation.

Melipona bee (Photo: Tierra Fértil)

The person in charge of the Primary Production Laboratory of Cinvestav-Merida’s Marine Resources Department, said that during one year they will carry out the tests so that later the researchers from the American Union can analyze the properties and benefits of the honey that can be obtained from the bees.

He emphasized that this project is unique, since it is the first time that this native bee of the region is used for this type of studies, as it has already been implemented with other species of bees.

He highlighted the double benefit of the project, since the participation of women from the communities includes the restoration of the black mangrove and the preservation of beekeeping with native bees.

Herrera Silveira explained that they are analyzing the possibility of seeing in which mangrove sites are restored to implement honey production, with the melipona.

He remarked the numerous properties of native bee honey, for the treatment of various diseases.

“Collaboration in these projects contributes to ecosystem-based adaptation through the sustainable use of mangroves, which contributes to the well-being of communities and the conservation of mangroves in the Yucatan Peninsula,” he stressed.

Currently, the initiative is in the pilot phase and the areas where the cajones de cajones will be placed were determined, one part in the Dzilam swamp and the other in Progreso, for which he met with the women’s groups that will collaborate.

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