Melipona, The Sacred Mayan Bee

Melipona, The Sacred Mayan Bee

There in the tree, can you see it?”

I have to open my eyes to a new landscape. It’s our first tour in the Yucatán Península, México, and we decided to visit Cobá archaeological site. There’s nothing except jungle all around us. It’s absolutely a new paradise for our senses. After a few seconds, I can see them getting inside a tree. Small and fragile, they were sacred to the Mayan people: the Melipona bees.

Our tour guide in the Riviera Maya explained us that Melipona are quite different from the European bees. Melipona do not have a sting, so they do not hurt us.  This is why the Maya had some hives of Melipona bees in their homes. They were like nice, useful pets because they weren’t dangerous and they produce this healthy honey which was used in rituals and as a main ingredient in medicine.

The Maya were the first people in Mesoamerica that cultivated the Melipona bee. There was a religious tradition around the harvesting of the melipona hives.  Ah Mucen Kab, the giver of honey or the “descendant god” was closely associated with planet Venus and Melipona bee. The Maya used to harvest the hives only during the months of May and November as part of their religious calendar.”

Nowadays, said our tour guide, the Melipona Bee tradition is in danger for many reasons. But they are responsible for 80% of the pollination of the jungle, so we really need to take care of them.

This is how I discovered how important is to preserve a tradition. This small insect is a great part of the jungle I’m walking through.  Now I can understand why the Maya took care of them.

Now I’m looking at this green carpet covering the Yucatán Peninsula. The view is awesome! Cobá is a must when visiting the Riviera Maya, but you should also try the Melipona honey. It’s sweet and healthy, a true gift of the gods.

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