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Diversity, local knowledge and use of stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) in the municipality of Nocupétaro, Michoacan, Mexico.

Reyes-González A, Camou-Guerrero A, Reyes-Salas O, Argueta A, Casas A - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2014)

Bottom Line: Stingless bees were significant resources managed by Mesoamerican peoples during pre-Columbian times and remain important in particular areas.Local knowledge about use, management and ecological issues on stingless bees is persistent and deep in the study area.Information about this group of bees is progressively scarcer in Mexico and significant effort should be done from ethnobiological and ecological perspectives in order to complement the national inventory of bee resources and traditional knowledge and management of them.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Morelia, Mexico. andres.camou@enesmorelia.unam.mx.

ABSTRACT

Background: Stingless bees were significant resources managed by Mesoamerican peoples during pre-Columbian times and remain important in particular areas. Our study aimed at inventorying stingless bees' species, traditional knowledge and forms of use and management of them at the municipality of Nocupetaro, Michoacán, Mexico, a region of the Balsas River Basin.

Methods: We inventoried the stingless bees of the municipality of Nocupétaro, Michoacán, México, through extensive collecting of bee specimens in different vegetation types. We then conducted semi-structured interviews to local experts in order to document their knowledge and management techniques of stingless bees' species.

Results: We identified a total of eight stingless bees' species in the study area as well as three additional unidentified taxa recognized by people through the local names. Our inventory included one new record of species for the region (Lestrimelitta chamelensis Ayala, 1999). The taxa identified are all used by local people. Scaptotrigona hellwegeri Friese, 1900; Melipona fasciata Latreille, 1811; Frieseomelitta nigra Cresson, 1878 and Geotrigona acapulconis Strand, 1919 are particularly valued as food (honey), medicinal (honey and pollen), and material for handcrafts (wax). All species recorded are wild and their products are obtained through gathering. On average, local experts were able to collect 4 nests of stingless bees per year obtaining on average 6 L of honey and 4 Kg of wax but some came to collect up 10-12 hives per year (18 L of honey and 24 Kg of wax).

Conclusions: Local knowledge about use, management and ecological issues on stingless bees is persistent and deep in the study area. Information about this group of bees is progressively scarcer in Mexico and significant effort should be done from ethnobiological and ecological perspectives in order to complement the national inventory of bee resources and traditional knowledge and management of them.

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Local extractive practices of the stingless bees that nest in the ground ( Geotrigona acapulconis ). a) entrance to the nest with the tool used for digging (chuz), b) nest located 1.5 m depth in relation to the entrance. Photographs: Alejandro Reyes-González.
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Figure 4: Local extractive practices of the stingless bees that nest in the ground ( Geotrigona acapulconis ). a) entrance to the nest with the tool used for digging (chuz), b) nest located 1.5 m depth in relation to the entrance. Photographs: Alejandro Reyes-González.

Mentions: Extractive practices of bee products are usually conducted when people need them, or during the extraction season in September and October, when availability of flower resources for bees is the highest of the year and when the nests are well provided of resources. For extracting bee products, people utilize simple tools such as axes for cutting pieces of trunks or branches in order to have access to the nests (Figure 3). Sometimes people cut the entire tree for using the bee nests and they make use of the wood. However, nearly 45% of local experts interviewed said to more frequently make use of machines like power saws. For the colmenas de tierra (ground colmenas), people excavate holes using tools like picks, shovels, drills. People carefully try to find the nest from its entrance emerging up on the ground towards the main body of the nest down underground (Figure 4). Gathering bee resources in this form requires fine knowledge of bees since the main body of the nest may be located on average 1.5 m deep in several directions with respect to the entrance.


Diversity, local knowledge and use of stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) in the municipality of Nocupétaro, Michoacan, Mexico.

Reyes-González A, Camou-Guerrero A, Reyes-Salas O, Argueta A, Casas A - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2014)

Local extractive practices of the stingless bees that nest in the ground ( Geotrigona acapulconis ). a) entrance to the nest with the tool used for digging (chuz), b) nest located 1.5 m depth in relation to the entrance. Photographs: Alejandro Reyes-González.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4061457&req=5

Figure 4: Local extractive practices of the stingless bees that nest in the ground ( Geotrigona acapulconis ). a) entrance to the nest with the tool used for digging (chuz), b) nest located 1.5 m depth in relation to the entrance. Photographs: Alejandro Reyes-González.
Mentions: Extractive practices of bee products are usually conducted when people need them, or during the extraction season in September and October, when availability of flower resources for bees is the highest of the year and when the nests are well provided of resources. For extracting bee products, people utilize simple tools such as axes for cutting pieces of trunks or branches in order to have access to the nests (Figure 3). Sometimes people cut the entire tree for using the bee nests and they make use of the wood. However, nearly 45% of local experts interviewed said to more frequently make use of machines like power saws. For the colmenas de tierra (ground colmenas), people excavate holes using tools like picks, shovels, drills. People carefully try to find the nest from its entrance emerging up on the ground towards the main body of the nest down underground (Figure 4). Gathering bee resources in this form requires fine knowledge of bees since the main body of the nest may be located on average 1.5 m deep in several directions with respect to the entrance.

Bottom Line: Stingless bees were significant resources managed by Mesoamerican peoples during pre-Columbian times and remain important in particular areas.Local knowledge about use, management and ecological issues on stingless bees is persistent and deep in the study area.Information about this group of bees is progressively scarcer in Mexico and significant effort should be done from ethnobiological and ecological perspectives in order to complement the national inventory of bee resources and traditional knowledge and management of them.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Morelia, Mexico. andres.camou@enesmorelia.unam.mx.

ABSTRACT

Background: Stingless bees were significant resources managed by Mesoamerican peoples during pre-Columbian times and remain important in particular areas. Our study aimed at inventorying stingless bees' species, traditional knowledge and forms of use and management of them at the municipality of Nocupetaro, Michoacán, Mexico, a region of the Balsas River Basin.

Methods: We inventoried the stingless bees of the municipality of Nocupétaro, Michoacán, México, through extensive collecting of bee specimens in different vegetation types. We then conducted semi-structured interviews to local experts in order to document their knowledge and management techniques of stingless bees' species.

Results: We identified a total of eight stingless bees' species in the study area as well as three additional unidentified taxa recognized by people through the local names. Our inventory included one new record of species for the region (Lestrimelitta chamelensis Ayala, 1999). The taxa identified are all used by local people. Scaptotrigona hellwegeri Friese, 1900; Melipona fasciata Latreille, 1811; Frieseomelitta nigra Cresson, 1878 and Geotrigona acapulconis Strand, 1919 are particularly valued as food (honey), medicinal (honey and pollen), and material for handcrafts (wax). All species recorded are wild and their products are obtained through gathering. On average, local experts were able to collect 4 nests of stingless bees per year obtaining on average 6 L of honey and 4 Kg of wax but some came to collect up 10-12 hives per year (18 L of honey and 24 Kg of wax).

Conclusions: Local knowledge about use, management and ecological issues on stingless bees is persistent and deep in the study area. Information about this group of bees is progressively scarcer in Mexico and significant effort should be done from ethnobiological and ecological perspectives in order to complement the national inventory of bee resources and traditional knowledge and management of them.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus