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Tourism with a Cause in the State of Yucatán: The Kingdom of the Melipona Bee
Unique among thousands
Yucatán is, for the mindful and observant tourist, an endless font of intellectually stimulating experiences. When the curious enter the realm of Melipona beecheii, they'll go from surprise to surprise. For starters, visitors will learn that, among the 20,000 species of bee that exist in the world, a genus of stingless bees called Meliponinae, or Melipona, developed in the Americas. This non-aggressive bee produces a unique honey, different from the more commonly type produced by the Apis mellifera honeybee species that the English and Spanish introduced to the Western Hemisphere in the 17th century.
Apiculture specialist Andrea Figueroa, from Miel Nativa Kaban, suggests that to preserve the ecosystem of all bees it is not necessary to protect the blooms that provide them with both pollen and nectar. If we really want to help them, she suggests we grow plants and flowers typical of the region where we live, since not all bees feed on any plant species.
Figueroa and her colleagues from Miel Nativa Kaban encourage tourists and consumers to appreciate the peculiarities of Melipona beecheii honey and collaborate to create a sustainable economy. This solidarity tourism provides economic alternatives for agricultural communities, generates complementary income and contributes to defending and revaluing the cultural and natural resources of localities.
There are Melipona beecheii honey producers in various parts of Yucatán state. In Sinanché, for example, a cooperative allows visitors to enjoy apitourism, through which they can sample different types of honey and learn about both Melipona apiaries — or meliponarios — and the hives of other types of bees. Similar experiences take place in the Magical Town of Maní; there is even a "Route of Meliponarios"
The idea is that a well-informed consumer who knows the environment can, in addition to treasuring a memorable experience, contribute to sustaining the habitat of bees, supporting the communities that live off of meliponiculture and enjoying healthy and delicious products.
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