Native Honey Bees
Saving native honey bees and ensuring sustainable development
Stingless bee farming and conservation
This project will work with local people on the Osa Peninsula to farm the honey of the stingless bees (Apidae and Meliponinae), which occur in all tropical regions of the world. Stingless bee keeping used to be common in Costa Rica, once being the only form of honey production. However, with the introduction of the non-native African bee, which provides substantially more honey, and the massive loss and fragmentation of natural habitats, this form of bee keeping was almost lost in the country as were the bees. Over the last 10 years there has been an increase in stingless bee keeping, mainly in the Central Valley and Guanacaste, due to the quality of the honey that these bees provide and value of stingless bees in the ecosystem.
The Value of Stingless Bee Farming
Stingless bees are ideal to work with, because, as their name suggests, they do not sting, therefore do not require any protective equipment. Additionally, their farming requires very little input of time or funds, yet they produce honey that carries a high value, around $40 per litre, due to its antibiotic properties. In Costa Rica, it is suggested to sell 10ml bottles for $2 for medicinal uses, which would produce a much higher return.
The added benefit of working with stingless bees, is that they are native and essential pollinators for the ecosystems on the peninsula. In order to farm these bees, each farmer has to plant native plants that the bees require, thereby increasing floral diversity and subsequently the populations of the bees and other species, such as birds, other invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians. The Osa Peninsula contains habitats that can support at least 54% of stingless bee species in Costa Rica, making this area essential for their conservation. Stingless bees also support agriculture by pollinating commercial crops.
The Bee Project
This project will have a central base on the peninsula with around 20 hives to start. This base site will be an education centre for Meliponiculture, highlighting the economic and environmental value of stingless bees to both tourists and local people. The site will also act as an example for people who are interested in joining the project, as they will be able to see a working farm and learn about the benefits of the project and receive support to set up their own farm.
Often local land owners think that owning forest is not profitable, leading to loss of forests or landowners with little economic gain from their land, we want to show people that you can make an income whilst protecting the forest and its wildlife.
To work with local people on the Osa Peninsula to farm stingless bee honey, thereby increasing their social and financial wellbeing.
To increase the population of stingless bees on the Osa peninsula through planting of flowers that they require and through their farming.
To increase overall biodiversity on the Osa Peninsula through an increase in natural habitats.