A sweet gift from the Yucatán Peninsula generates about a third of the honey produced in all of México, with exportation quality for Europe and the US. Honey from Yucatán is especially preferred in France and Germany.
Its unequalled flavor, body, vitamin content, dark amber color, and high quality is the result of the co-existence of the European honey bee (apis mellifera) and the Melipona, which does not have a stinger. Both species are very productive and adaptable. Because of the tropical conditions and vegetation of the peninsula, honey producers have achieved consolidation in productivity and market preference. On the one hand, the European honey bee, introduced to the peninsula in 2011, allows for vast production; and on the other hand, the Melipona bee has been here since pre-Hispanic times, with ancestral and religious curative traits, and considered as a regenerative food.
If you are not familiar with bees’ organization, it is important to know that both species are highly social, as well as among the most complex in organization: there is only one queen who is the producer of up to 1500 eggs per day during the seasons of highest production. The workers are in charge of keeping the hive clean, among other things.
Beekeeping is an activity that is mainly carried out by small producers, who with care and dedication feed the bees, using rustic natural and Maya techniques, relying on family labor or small co-ops. They respect the natural cycles of honey production, which are aligned with the rain cycles; the dry months of February to June are the months of the most honey harvesting without affecting the bee populations. And in November, the Melipona bee honey producers also do an additional collection of honey, according to a Maya religious ritual.
Maya bees, known as “Xuna’an kab”, feed mainly on flowers as diverse as the Dzidzilché, the Tajonal, and the Tzalam, all with great aroma, white in color, and blooming at a certain time of the year. This is what gives our Yucatecan honey its special characteristics.
With high vitamin and mineral content, Yucatecan honey’s uses range from the gourmet to natural remedies. Health benefits include use as an anti-inflammatory, respiratory illness preventative, skin exfoliant, lip, face, and hair moisturizer, and healing agent for burns and acne scars.
Another advantage of Yucatecan honey is that it does not expire, keeping its benefits over long periods of time.
During your visit, don’t forget to buy some of our local honey. Be sure it is produced in our state, that the label says it is 100% natural, and that it is properly packaged to maintain its wonderful properties. You can buy it in gift-giving sizes, as a natural and healthy souvenir; useful and above all a delicious accompaniment to desserts and beverages. Try “Los Dos” organic honey which comes in two flavors: Dzidzilché and Tajonal ([email protected]). And many handcrafts stores carry a variety of brands.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
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