As if you needed another reason to consume honey regularly, here’s a little bit of information about the sacred Melipona honey.
The Maya used the honey from the native stingless bee Melipona beecheii extensively in their traditional remedies. They believed that illnesses that could be cured with this honey had supernatural origins. It was used to treat both “hot” and “cold” infirmities including respiratory and digestive ailments, cataracts, pterygium eye and conjunctivitis, as well as wounds, burns, fevers and poisonous stings and bites.
The reason supernatural illnesses could be treated with this honey was because they believed it was a sacred gift from the gods, specifically the bee god Ah Muzen Cab. The Maya communities continue to use this sacred honey to treat cancer, sinusitis, typhoid, laryngitis, bronchitis, cough, bacterial infections and postpartum issues. It has and continues to be used as a sweetener, an antibiotic and the main ingredient in the fermented drinks balché and Xtabentun.
When Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba first arrived in the Yucatan in 1517, he encountered enough bee yards producing honey that was traded throughout Mesoamerica. The importance of this activity is evidenced in the Madrid Codex, one of the four surviving Maya codices, which was devoted entirely to beekeeping.
Honey contains iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins B1 to B8. It is antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for pain alleviaion in the throat, and as a result of burns and ulcers. Applied topically, it will moisturize the skin and is beneficial in wound healing. Honey can help ameliorate thyroid disturbances and reduce the risk of developing diabetes as well as fight cancerous cells.
Regular honey consumption lowers cholesterol and reduces the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Honey can help alleviate dehydration and potassium loss caused by diarrhea. Furthermore, it aids in digestion and reduces issues caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The amount of nutrients that honey contains varies according to the local plant source.To determine whether a particular batch of honey is pure, drop a spoonful into a glass of water. Adulterated honey dissolves, while pure honey remains in a ball. Honey can be stored at room temperature. If it crystallizes, setting it in a pan of hot water will liquidize it again.
Melipona honey is slightly different than honey made from other types of bees. It is more watery, less prone to crystallization and contains more fructose than glucose giving it a distinct taste. The honey from these stingless bees has more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than honey produced by stinging bees.
The Melipona bees are in danger of extinction. The ecosystem which they have co-existed for centuries is being destroyed. They are also facing increasing competition with the Apis mellifera bees since commercial beekeepers prefer their more abundant honey production to the native species. If you are in the Yucatan, be sure to take advantage of the local sacred Melipona honey available to you.
Precaution: Honey should never be given to children under one year of age because it may cause botulism.
Have you tried Melipona honey?
Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.