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Count Benigno Ramirez among those who hope that future generations will continue to hear the buzzing of the bees.
Ramirez runs Sinanche Apitourism in the Mexican state of Yucatan, raising honeybees and producing different types of honey visitors are welcome to buy, and in doing so carries on a family tradition that he hopes will help people understand the importance of bees, which are seeing their numbers tumble worldwide.
“More people are becoming aware (of the plight of bees) but not enough,” says Ramirez, whose father and grandfather produced honey.
Ramirez says bees are critical to our food chain because of pollination.
Sinanche Apitourism uses both honeybees that can be traced back to Europe and others that are native to the Yucatan, which has been producing honey for thousands of years.
Mexico is one of the world’s major honey producers, although Ramirez says his compatriots are often less appreciative of it than some others.
Having tourists visit Sinanche Apitourism and get the lowdown on honey production was years in the making, with area authorities initially reluctant to okay the project, concerned that tourists might get stung, concerns Ramirez says were unfounded. Bees native to the region don’t sting, while protective beekeeper outfits are available to those wanting to get up close and personal with bees that originated in Europe. Ramirez burns leaves from a lantern-like object when visitors are near European honeybees, which makes them docile.
The bees are housed in wooden boxes, each home to thousands of the insects.
Ramirez reports that most people are unaware of how labor-intensive honey production is, adding a scoop of honey may represent the lifetime work of 10 bees.
Visitors to Sinanche Apitourism can also try their hand at making candles from beeswax.
Daniel Ortega Pimienta, a tour guide with Via Alternativa, says those who visit Sinanche Apitourism will leave more appreciative of bees and perhaps less nervous around them.
“Now you can tell people you’ve seen bees up close,” he tells visitors. “Now you can tell people they’re harmless.”More information can be found at cooxmayab.com.
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