Honey Bees that Will Not Sting?
Yes, there are at least 60 species of stingless bees in Costa Rica, and they make the most delicious honey I have ever tried before. Not getting so technical or scientific with such a complex creature, I would like to explain how special and important bees are to humans. I will use examples from our region, and to be more precise, I will focus on our host community: La Flor.
As long as I can remember, it is common for families in our town to have at least one stingless honey bee colony. It doesn't matter what species they have; all they want is to secure the honey for the season. Many have acquired knowledge through their own observations and experience about the benefits these miracle insects bring to their health and to their surroundings.
People in the community have been using the fresh honey and bee pollen to help speed up healing scars, reduce stress, help to reduce cold symptoms, strengthen the immune system and in many other ways for years.
Just about a month ago one of our neighbors decided to open his bee box. He asked us to go and help him and in exchange, he would share the honey with us. I went with two of our kids and got our hands dirty for about an hour. My dad and my sister were there helping as well. It turned out to be a very productive harvest. We collected almost nine quarts of honey that evening.
Almost every family in our town has available gardening space for their own use. They know the important role bees play on their vegetables or fruit’s health as the main flower pollinators. Also, honey is expensive if you buy it at the grocery store, but for those who own honey bee colonies, the only expense they have is what they will spend on wood and nails to build the bee boxes, which could be somewhere around five US dollars. Also, these creatures are magical in my opinion. They are maintenance-free and as long as you leave some of the honey and pollen in their homes each time you harvest, and you keep them in a dry place close to flowering trees and plants, they will stay there for years. Honey and pollen are particularly needed by honey bees’ larvae, as it is their main food source with the nutrients they need to grow a healthy bee colony. The one colony of bees we harvested from has lived in the same box for over 19 years.
After learning more about stingless bees, I got excited about how amazing they are and all we could do to have them around supporting the health of our gardens and fruit trees in property, so I started building my own bee boxes. Up to now, we have three colonies of stingless honey bees and we are planning on continuing to collect as many species as possible while making sure we do it in a responsible manner.