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Monday, October 15, 2007

Jatai Bees Arrive in Águas da Prata

Jatai Bee

There are more than three hundreds species of bees in Brazil - two hundreds of them concentrated in the Amazon region. A very interesting characteristic of these species is that most of them are docile, stingless bees, very different from the traditional Africanized bee (Apis mellifera) used by commercial honey producers.

Since 1994 there is an effort to educate the native population of Northern and Northeastern Brazil, in order to reduce the extinction risk of these bees and also to introduce a sustainable, economically viable activity of honey production.

The most common species are Melipona crinita ("jandaíra", "yellow bee" in Tupi), Melipona compressipes (also known as "jupará" in the Amazon and "tiúba" in the state of Maranhão, Brazil) and Melipona scutellaris ("urucu"). Most of them are known by the Native Brazilians, which use their honey as food and medicine.

Outside Amazon, the most famous species is Tetragonisca angustula ("jataí"), a tiny bee which produces very small quantities of a quite pleasing to taste honey, less sweet than that from Apis mellifera. It's interesting to notice that many people allergic to common honey don't have problems consuming jataí honey; children, specifically, find it very tasteful.

This is the Areca Bambú Palm in our front yard. (Visit out Blog Flowering Trees and Shrubs look at the story of Butterfly Palm in Winter for more photos of this tree.

It produces large pods like this.

They open up with many branches that will have hundreds of tiny coconuts.

First, these little buds open and show timy florets. This morning, Oct 15m 2007 we discoverd we had visitors.

There were dozens of tiny bees gathering honey from these tiny florets.

They are hard to see at first because they are so tiny.

They are the size of a small housefly.

We now have hundreds of florets opening so the bees will be plentiful in the next few days.

They are all over the florets.

This is my hand to illustrate the size of these tiny stingless bees.

These tiny bees make a very special nest. They burrow into tiny holes then build a tube like entrance.

We have some YouTube videos for you to see.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

The comments at the beginning of the blog come from "Everything 2" Website at

Photos by Urso Branco

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