Mr. Buchmann is wanting to turn this into a full length film
“Deep in the rainforest of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, in the shadow of his ancestors' great stone pyramids, one of the last Mayan beekeepers guards an ancient secret. It was passed on to him directly from his fathers in the Mayan language from long before the time of Cortez. He is one of very few modern Maya upholding the beecraft skills of keeping stingless bees. All is unveiled as Emmy award-winning cinematographer Keith Brust (Planet Earth, etc.) takes us deep inside the bees' hidden world and this ages old Mayan tradition for the first time.
Producer, director, copyright holder: Dr. Stephen Buchmann The Drylands Institute, Tucson, AZ and International Coordinator, The Pollinator Partnership (www.pollinator.org/) Email: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cinematography: Keith Brust, Wildtime Media, Tucson, AZ
Editing: John Hadwin, Reelworthy, Inc., Tucson, AZ
Scientific Advisors: Dr. Rogel Villanueva Gutierrez, ECOSUR, Chetumal, QR, Mexico. Dr. David Roubik, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Republic of Panama.
I'm actively fund-raising to finish filming and post production, expanding this 7 minute teaser into a full-fledged 50 minute documentary for US and worldwide television broadcast. If you are an interested funder, foundation officer or know someone who is, please contact me by email. I would like to finish this project before Dec. 21, 2012. Not much time left. :-) “
Tucson, Arizona, USA
I can’t imagine the thrill it must have been to witness this ancient art of keeping bees this way in person! I thought I would share this film in the hopes others might be interested in donating to get this film completed and also as it is just so very beautiful and interesting:)
Of the 500 or so species of stingless bees in the tropics, the Maya beekeepers favorite has been Melipona beecheii. The bees traditional name is xunan kab ( or kolil kab in the Mayan Language), means Royal Lady.
From a press release by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute:
Long before Europeans brought honey bees (Apis mellifera) to the Americas, Mayan bee keepers harvested honey from the log nests of stingless bees native to tropical forests. Now, colleagues from the Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Quintana Roo, Mexico and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) warn of the imminent demise of stingless bee keeping on the Yucatan — a result of ongoing cultural change and habitat loss.
"In our initial surveys of bee keepers working with native bees in the eighties, we estimated that they maintained more than a thousand active hives. In 1990, we only found around 400 hives, and in 2004, only 90. At this rate, we would expect the art of stingless bee keeping to disappear from the Yucatan by 2008." David Roubik, once dubbed "The Bee Man" in a National Geographic special about his work on Africanized bees, and recently featured on the PBS "Deep Jungle" series, would like people to take note:
"For thousands of years, Mayans were expert practitioners of bee husbandry, and honey was an essential forest resourceâ€¦as a sweetener, as an antibiotic and as an ingredient in the Mayan version of mead. The Mayans, like other tropical forest cultures, worked with large-bodied meliponine bees that produce a variety of honeys. Their favorite, and one of the most productive species, has been Melipona beecheii, 'Xunan kab', which means, literally, 'royal lady'."
Of the 500 or so species of stingless bees in the tropical world Melipona beecheii is unique in that it was routinely propagated. Mayan bee keepers divided existing hives in order to increase the number of hives and honey production. "That technology is all but lost, but we'd like to see it turned around, not only to ensure the survival of meliponiculture as a way of life, but also to build up breeding stock to be re-introduced into the wild where bees play an important role as pollinators," Roubik explains.
But beekeeping is fast becoming a global monoculture. Africanized honey bees produce more honey, and therefore are an economically attractive option for bee keepers. In the Mayan tradition, a priest harvested stingless bee honey as part of a religious ceremony twice a year. Over harvesting kills the colony. Native bees may simply starve as deforestation, forest fragmentation and hurricanes reduce the availability of the floral resources they need.
Finally, most of the bee keepers on the Yucatan are old men living in rural areas where no one inherits their knowledge of the fine points of meliponiculture, specifically, how to propagate bees by dividing nests. Earlier this year, Rogel Villanueva-Gutierrez, first author of the paper, with Stephen Buchmann, Arthur James Donovan and Roubik published an amply illustrated handbook, in Spanish and Mayan, with step by step instructions for basic stingless beekeeping.
The Mayans believed that bees had cardinal virtues. Prudence, Temperance, Justice and Fortitude. They were also treated as deity. For more information about this, I suggest checking out this link!
And a good National Geographic article
And a very beautiful beehive altar
Honey and Herbal hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx