Head: "The indigenous American bee is the melipona (a stingless bee). It produces only about one kilogram of honey per year"

Table of Contents

Head: "The indigenous American bee is the melipona (a stingless bee). It produces only about one kilogram of honey per year"

Ronan James Head: [1]

The apis mellifera species was not found in the New World until it was imported from about the seventeenth century AD onward.[2] The indigenous American bee is the melipona (a stingless bee). It produces only about one kilogram of honey per year (compared with apis mellifera, which can produce fifty kilograms). Nevertheless, pre-Columbian Americans did indeed have knowledge of beekeeping and made the most of the melipona.[3] Cortés wrote to the king of Spain in 1519 about the extent of beekeeping among the Indians of Cozumel (Mexico):

The only trade which the Indians have is in bee hives, and our Procurators will bear to Your Highness specimens of the honey and the bee hives that you may commend them to be examined.[4]

The earliest archaeological evidence for American apiculture comes from the Late Preclassic Maya period (ca. 300 BC–AD 300).[5] Modern peasant apiculture in the Yucatán is reminiscent of Egyptian beekeeping: hives (often hollowed-out logs) are stacked vertically on a rack. The lost-wax technique was known in the New World,[2]. and the ancient Maya pantheon included a bee god called Ah Mucan Cab.[3].

Notes

  1. Roman James Head, "A Brief Survey of Ancient Near Eastern Beekeeping," FARMS Review 20/1 (2008): 57–66. off-site wiki
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eva Crane, The Archaeology of Beekeeping (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), 33.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Eva Crane, The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting (London: Duckworth, 1999)
  4. Charles F. Calkins, "Beekeeping in Yucatán: A Study in Historical-Cultural Zoogeography (PhD diss., University of Nebraska, 1974), as quoted in Crane, World History of Beekeeping, 292. Calkins cites the original translated source as Hernán Cortés, Letters of Cortés: The Five Letters of Relation from Fernando Cortes to the Emperor Charles V, trans. and ed. Francis A. MacNutt (New York: Putnam, 1908), 1:145.
  5. Head note that "The Inca and Aztec civilizations settled at altitudes too high for apiculture."