Business & Economy

Mexican village turns to tourism to sustain beekeeping tradition

By Lourdes Cruz

Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Mexico, Jun 10 (EFE).- X-Cabil, a village of around 1,200 people on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula whose economy revolves around honey hopes to earn enough from tourism to remain faithful to the beekeping heritage handed down from their Maya ancestors.

Until a few years ago, the community struggled for survival, at the mercy of middlemen often willing to pay less than 30 pesos ($1.50) for a kilo of honey, beekeeper Miguel Puc Pat recalls.

In a bid to put X-Cabil on a firmer footing, Puc and other beekeepers hit on the idea of turning the rituals that accompany their care of the melipona bees – a stingless genus indigenous to the Yucatan – into an attraction for tourists.

While most visitors have access to the aviaries of the melipona, known in the local Mayan language as Xunan Cab, only those who spend the night in X-Cabil are allowed to witness the sacred ceremonies.

“It represents many, many things for us,” Puc tells EFE. “In the matter of the cultivation and management of the meliponas we were very reliant on the recovery of the memory of our people, because at the start there was a lot of this honey, which was the principal source of energy for our grandfathers, our great-grandfathers.”

Melipona bees are kept in hollow tree sections (jobones) that are closed at both ends with stone or ceramic plugs and provided with a central opening for the bees to enter.

X-Cabil resident Agustina Noh Moo is relatively new to beekeeping.

“I like them because they don’t sting. We take out honey, harvest honey. We learn to make the decisions, they are also teaching us and we are learning little by little,” she says.

Women have an important role in the practice their smaller hands are better suited to harvesting the honey.

“You have to clean your hands afterward with tamarind leaves to disinfect the hands, to remove the bad vibes,” Agustina explains.

EFE lc/dr

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