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Perhaps you have come across the name Melipona bee and wondered what it is. There is also so much hype on the benefits of Melipona honey. What exactly is the Melipona bee and does its honey have more benefits than any other honey? Well, we shall delve into all these in this article.
Situated in southwest of Mexico is a state by the name of Yucatán, a treasure trove of Mayan ruins, limestone sinkholes deemed sacred, and historic haciendas. It is also known for its mouth-watering slow-roasted pork fish. Its residents, the Mayan communities, have kept their culture alive for centuries. They are associated with the discovery of the slightly sour honey derived from the Melipona bee, commonly referred to as Melipona honey.
History the Melipona Bee
The Melipona bee, a gentle stingless bee has been in existence for more than 3 thousand years. This was many years ago before Europeans even begun keeping the the western honey bee – apis mellifera. It is associated with Mayans who kept it for many purposes. The bee was precious and was tended with love and care. It was also well-protected by these natives and were carefully propagated. The bees were well-secured from ants and sacred plants were hung around the bees, with a belief that it gave them protection from evil spirits. These practices are still in existence even today.
The Melipona Bee or Melipona beecheii, is also referred to as Xunan kab. This name when translated means the royal lady, a clear indication of how esteemed the bee is among the Mayans. It is known to have been kept within homesteads and children were given the sole responsibility of catering to the bees. This can be attributed to the fact that the bees never harm humans.
Comparison with European Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)
When compared to the European honey bees of today, the Melipona bees share some similarities and differences in equal measure. They gather nectar and pollen just the same. The quality of their honey is also affected by the flowers they visit, weather changes, and the region in question. They also raise multiple queens and finally select one for a single colony.
Contrarily however, Melipona bees establish their colonies in small crevices situated in hollow trees. They also build architectural wax structures instead of the usual vertical rows of combs built by European bees. Their wax structures are organized to form little pots where honey is stored. They tend to be picky when foraging for nectar and pollen. They search for pollen and nectar they like then use it to make honey that looks totally different than any other honey. The honey is pale and watery unlike any other. In some cases it will be clear and more acidic than the honey made by European bees. This honey is also not prone to crystallization.
In terms of honey production capability, the Melipona bee produces little when compared to their European counterpart. A single colony of the latter can produce about 60 pounds of extra honey per season. However, the Melipona bee colony will only produce about 2.5 pounds per season, making their honey very rare and precious.
According to the Mayan natives, the Melipona bee was well-protected and its honey greatly valued. The honey was used for medicinal purposes and it would be applied sparingly. Mothers that just gave birth were given Melipona honey due to its nutritious and medicinal value. It is to this day still valued and Mayan healers use the honey to heal ear and eye problems. It is also used to heal respiratory and digestive problems by many Yucatan communities currently. Scientists have also proven its greater antioxidant and inflammation-relieving properties when compared to the honey we get from European honey bees. International chefs and avid wellness enthusiasts all crave this silky and unique tasting honey.
The nutritious value of Melipona honey is much higher, given the fact that it contains more fructose than glucose when compared to the honey from the European honey bee. The Melipona bee as selective as it is when foraging, ensures it picks nectar and pollen from only the most nutritious trees. The texture and nutritious properties of the Melipona honey is thus much better.
Health Benefits of Melipona Stingless Bee Honey
Melipona honey is also known as Mayan Honey. It is well accepted that this honey boasts a higher quality than that produced by European honey bees. The Mayan community have found ways of blending this honey with its daily use products such as eye drops, soap, talc, shampoo, and skin cream. The Mayans also use the wax from the bees to make pieces of art and jewelry. They are also known for making use of damaged hives to make art works.
Melipona honey is also used for making an alcoholic beverarge similar to mead. The community however blends honey with the back of the leguminous tree named balche. The drink is known to have entheogenic properties. The nests of the Melipona bee are also placed in close proximity to certain indigenous trees, so that the bees can use their nectar and pollen to make honey. This is done intentionally to ensure the honey produced is nutrient-rich.
The specific trees targeted for such a purpose include: T. corymbosa rich with ergoline compounds and Balche flowers with Melipona honey properties and its bark known for its hallucinating properties. The locals use the bark in the local brew which in turn helps add more benefits.
Some of the health benefits of Melipona honey include the following:
Melipona honey is known for its benefits to patients suffering from diabetes. The antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties of the honey help counter the effects of diabetes.
2. Ulcers, Bladder Infection
Melipona honey also treats bladder infections. It also has properties that help heal ulcers. The common effects of bladder infection include pelvic pain, pain with urination, an urge to urinate all the time, and blood in the urine. Melipona honey helps relieve all these. It also helps ease stomach pain and helps heal those suffering with diarrhoea.
Cancer patients can benefit with the use of Melipona honey. It is an immunity booster and has strong anti-oxidising and anti-inflammatory agents. This helps patients to some extent given the fact that cancer affects the body’s ability to resist further infection and inflammation.
4. Eye and Oral Problems
The Maya communities have been using the honey from the stingless bee to treat eye conditions. It also helps to improve eye sight and the overall health of the eye. In addition to these are the benefits the Melipona honey delivers to those with dental pain. It is an excellent pain reliever for those with dental problems. Toothache is particularly excruciating and this honey helps ease the pain. It helps treat inflamed gums and mouth as well. It is also an excellent remedy for treating an inflammation of the throat.
5. Weight Loss
Those in weight loss programs can benefit when they use Melipona honey. It has potent properties that helps reduce cholesterol. It also helps improve blood circulation which is good for those who have added exercise as part of their weight loss program. The honey is loved by wellness experts and that in itself can attest to its many benefits. Remember it not only boosts blood circulation but also helps overcome fatigue which is common for those struggling with obesity. It will also help lower lipids in the body hence reduce weight gain.
6. Boosts Immune System
The stingless bee honey will help to boost your body’s immune system. A stronger immune system is able to withstand potentially damaging foreign bodies. These include viruses, parasites, and bacteria. The body will be quick in detecting and responding to these threats. It will also be able to better distinguish foreign bodies from actual body tissues. This is helpful for patients with conditions that weaken their immunity. Examples of these include diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and malnutrition.
7. Boosts Energy
The honey is regarded as a super food that boosts metabolism and helps overcome insomnia. Melipona honey particularly helps men and women rejuvenate after a tiring day. It is an instant energy booster that is rich in vitamins. It helps those on fitness programs enjoy better sleep and overcome fatigue.
The Melipona bee is facing similar challenges as the European bee. Its number is declining drastically due to so many factors including: deforestation, competition for food and space, use of harmful chemicals by farmers, pests, predators and parasites and even hurricanes. Fortunately, learning institutions and bee enthusiasts are now researching on how to preserve and increase the bee population. The Melipona bee has not been left behind; many beekeepers have increasingly expressed their interest to keep this stingless bee. As a matter of fact, many have started rearing the Melipona bee across North and South America. Therefore, there is hope yet for this native bee.
A Final Word
The honey produced by this stingless bee has many nutritional benefits. It is certainly the most sought-after honey. The much smaller Melipona bee is capable of reaching those parts of the flower where the European bee cannot. This in a way, contributes to the high quality of the Melipona honey. The nutrient and mineral rich honey from theis stingless bee has many medicinal benefits, not to mention the beauty care benefits. Unfortunately, the Melipona bee population has slowly declined over the years. Therefore, more work has to be done by the bee-conscious so as to save these valuable creatures.
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