Native Village Youth and Education News
May 1, 2009 Issue 198
Native Chiapas Bees: Recouping an Ancient Mayan
Mexico: Zapatista movement members are reviving the
ancient Mayan tradition of cultivating hives of the
stingless, native bees.
“My mother always had her bee trunk beside our house,” said one 50- year-old Zapatista leader. “She used the honey for medicine when we had sore throats and to sweeten our tortillas. She called the wax, 'black wax', and she always used the 'black wax' for candles so she could pray during Day of the Dead. I want to be part of recouping this tradition because it is very important to us.”
Spring is the traditional season to seek stingless bee honey in the hollow trunks of huge trees. With trees and flowers blooming everywhere, these Native American bee hives are literally dripping with honey during this time of year. However, increasing de-forestation means fewer large trees and fewer nesting places for the stingless bees.
“My father said the entire community used to go the
mountains to get honey during Easter weeks,” said one Tzotzil
Mayan beekeeper attending a Melipona bee conference.
“But now the trees are all cut down so people could make
money, and our bees are gone."
More photos available at:
Background: Robert Kaufman Fabrics: http://www.robertkaufman.com/
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