The white truffle of honey.
Stingless Melipona bees are found mainly in the northern parts of Latin America. The unique honey produced by these bees principally comes from the state of Yucatán in Mexico. What makes Melipona honey so unique (and expensive)?
Unlike the thicker syrup produced by the common honeybee, the more liquidy Melipona honey has both a sweet and sour taste and higher nutritional value. The taste and color of the honey varies based on the type of flower from which the Melipona bee collects its nectar. Regardless of type, however, Melipona honey is universally praised for its umami and acidic and floral characteristics.
Thousands of years ago, Melipona honey was believed by the ancient Mayan peoples to be a divine product sent by the gods and used extensively for its medicinal properties. The Mayans ingested or applied the honey to cure a multitude of diseases, respiratory and digestive ailments, fevers, wounds, burns and poisonous bites. Even today, contemporary Mayan communities and many others promote Melipona honey for its antibacterial qualities.
By taking a few drops daily, some claim that Melipona honey helps control diabetes, treat bladder infections, reduce cholesterol, improve blood circulation, and prevent colds and flu. And in studies associated with oral hygiene, the honey has been shown to reduce the amount of harmful oral bacteria that causes tooth decay, plaque formation and gum inflammation. Further, other recent medical studies have shown Melipona honey to aid in relieving sore eyes, ears and throats, improving digestion, and even treating acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties. If all true, that’s some honey.
As for the expense, it comes down to the classic issue of supply and demand. The stingless bees that produce Melipona honey make roughly 40x less honey than average honeybees. The bees also are in danger of extinction. The relative scarcity of Melipona honey in nature, together with its desired sour taste and special healing characteristics, result in Melipona honey being marketed and sold as the “white truffle” of honeys. Fortunately, once purchased, the honey reportedly can be stored for at least three years without losing its unique taste and curative properties.
For those interested in trying this relatively rare nectar of the gods, several websites currently offer Melipona honey for sale and delivery. And that is some very sweet news.
Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.