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People in the Amazon are raising stingless bees that make medicinal honey

Published Apr 5th, 2022 11:05AM EDT
Stingless bees stand front of nest
Image: Somprasong / Adobe

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Stingless bees are renowned for their delicious and medicinal honey. Many people, like those in the Peruvian Amazon, rely heavily on the honey from stingless bees to treat infections and heal wounds. In the past, though, harvesting that honey has led to the destruction of the hives. Now, though, the people of the Peruvian Amazon are learning how to raise their own stingless bees.

Scientists are teaching the people of the Peruvian Amazon how to raise stingless bees

stingless honey bees beehive
A person tends to several stingless bee beehives. Image source: 88studio / Adobe

The Peruvian Amazon is home to 175 different species of stingless bees. Despite that large number, learning how to harvest medicinal honey from these bees without destroying their hives is important to ensuring the bees continue to live sustainable lives.

As such, scientists like Cesar Delgado, with the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, have begun to teach people in the area how to raise their own stingless bees. Delgado is also teaching them how to harvest the honey without destroying the hive. Others involved in the project include Rosa Vásquez Espinoza, a biochemist, and National Geographic Explorer.

Researchers like Espinoza hope to learn more about the stingless bees and the medicinal honey they produce. She also wants to better understand what the bees pollinate, and just more about them in general. Overall, she sees the project has been a huge help in the Peruvian Amazon, as the area was hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

By learning how to raise the stingless bees, the people are not only gaining access to medicinal honey. But, they are also unlocking new pollination benefits for the region, as well as generating income that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Unlocking the mysteries of medicinal honey

medicinal honey is found in stingless bee hives
Stingless bees like those shown above are being raised to produce medicinal honey. Image source: 88studio / Adobe

Honey has long been a major part of the medicinal world, as National Geographic notes. What makes honey from stingless bees so beneficial, though, is its antimicrobial, wound-healing, and anti-inflammatory properties. The honey that stingless bees make can ward off both fungal and microbial growth. This is useful in helping keep substances from spoiling in the heat of the tropics.

Combine the medicinal benefits of honey with the various plant life in the area, and the Peruvian Amazon is a bustling world for chemical mixtures. But there’s still a long way for researchers to go before they truly understand what makes medicinal honey so beneficial to humans.

But raising stingless bees is not without its own risks. While they do not have access to stingers like other bees do, some species can inflict painful bites. There are even some bees that eat meat. As such, raising them has always been a difficult obstacle for the people of the Peruvian Amazon to tackle. This is why many of them have always gathered honey from wild hives.

With help from researchers, though, it looks like the people of the Peruvian Amazon are stepping forward and getting a solid grasp on how to raise these bees. Thus giving them even better access to the medicinal honey so many rely on in the area.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.