It wasn’t until we stepped out into the quiet natural surroundings of Sinanché that the worry started to set in. “Do they sting? Has anyone gotten stung?…” Thankfully, Benigno, our tour guide, arrived and assured my oldest that no, she would definitely not get stung, much to everyone’s relief. He explained that there is a tour that involves beekeeping suits, but we (obviously) would only get near the Meliponas, the native stingless bee. So with fears subsided, we set off on our walk.
Apiturismo Sinanché is located one hour from Mérida, between Motul and San Crisanto. Each of the five cabins on site offers a learning activity. Before setting out, we were given the chance to use the bathroom, grab our drinks, and put on sunscreen.
The walks between cabins were short enough to not get sunburned, and long enough to feel like we were on an adventure. Benigno led the way, stopping to answer questions or tell us about a plant we were passing by. In the first two cabins we learned the history of beekeeping, and examined some tools they use in the honey production process.
As we arrived at the third stop, we could see the collection of beehive boxes and knew that we were about to meet the stars of the show. Benigno carefully removed one of the boxes, set it down in front of us, and pulled back the lid. We gazed in wonder at the incredible world of bees. With a dropper, he extracted some honey from the comb and dripped it on our fingers. We then took turns reaching into the hive, inviting the bees to come. There’s nothing like watching a bee close up, licking its honey from your skin. After they’d finished, Benigno told the kids to stand in front of where he had removed the hive (by this point they were hanging on his every word). As he leaned over and slid the box back in, a swarm full of bees flew right past their heads and into the hole they’d come from.
As if this wasn’t exciting enough, in the next cabin we got to taste the honey ourselves. Sample after sample, we learned where each type came from and what it was used for. After that, we walked to the last stop where we molded a natural wax candle. Talking as we crafted, Benigno was sure to mention that honey is something like bee vomit, and wax like bee sweat. The kids were of course delighted.
We were all four captivated by the natural wonder of Sinanché. With candles and honey in tow, we said our goodbyes, and left with a new appreciation for bees. Doesn’t that sound like something you’d like to try yourself?
Editorial by Monica Starling
Writer, architect and mom, living in the Yucatán since 2007.
Photography by Monica Starling for use in Yucatán Today.
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