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Mayan Beekeeping Survives Today

HoneyImagine a world where honey bees are your family’s livelihood. The hives are tucked deep in the jungles of Chiapas and Quintana Roo, and have been tended by Mayan communities for generations. Although there is a centuries-old beekeeping tradition there, honey production has only recently been recognized as a viable and stable income opportunity in the global market. In years past, middlemen, or “coyotes,” took a majority of the beekeepers’ income. With assistance from TransFair USA, Wholesome Sweeteners is able to pay a fair price directly to the beekeepers, who have formed vibrant worker-owned cooperatives that create meaningful employment, improve product quality, and send their children to school – until now, an unaffordable luxury in these economically-depressed regions. Additionally, by protecting the hives and native plant forage areas, Fair Trade encourages biodiversity and helps the forests thrive. Amber HoneyAll that and the honey is amazing! The multi-floral honey is collected from hives isolated deep within southern Mexico’s rainforests and designated organic agricultural zones. The bees forage only on wildflowers and, for one brief week every year, organically cultivated coffee blooms. As the season progresses and the flowers change, the honeys’ character changes too, deepening in color and flavor. Look for the Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic in two varieties: amber honey and raw honey. You can find other TransFair certified products throughout our stores—just look for their seal. By the way, October is TransFair USA’s Fair Trade Month. Raw HoneyTransFair USA enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth. In partnership with TransFair USA, our Whole Trade Guarantee program will continue to promote these certified items in our stores, and track their sales so that we can donate 1% of their sales to our Whole Planet Foundation, whose mission is to end world poverty through micro-credit loans.

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says …

Hi Graydon, Thanks for your response to the blog, these Wholesome Sweetener Honey's are delicous, you will be very pleased with their quality and taste.

Graydon Moss says …

How wonderful. We spent some days in the Mayan jungle and had some wonderful honey. We brought home several bottles, long since eaten. I will look for some in your stores.

Lois Ellen Frank says …

What a great way to support a sustainable practice, an entire community, and perpetuate cultural traditions associated with the Mayan Culture.

perry grin says …

The issue nicely skirted here is that the bees producing this honey are regular old Apis mellifera, the common honey bee. The more profitable culture of these old world imports is quickly supplanting the ancient practice of cultivating hives of stingless meliponine bees native to central america...where there were thousands people who still had this knowledge as recently as the '80s, there are only a handful now.

Brian Dykstra says …

Yes, Traditional Mayan beekeeping and the native stingless bees that were kept are both in danger of disappearing. Some groups and communities are working to reverse this trend. Whole Foods market is not doing anything to help reverse this horrible trend until they sell stingless bee honey from Mayan communities and Mayan beekeepers. Tosepan Titataniske Cooperative Society is one example. European honey beekeeping is not traditional and has largely replaced the original beekeeping with native stingless bees. The native bees are important pollinators of wild plants that the European honey bees do not pollinate successfully.