“Beekeeping in Brazil: A Slumbering Giant Awakens,” Parts I – IV
American Bee Journal (Sep, Dec. 2004 & Jan, Mar 2005), Vols. 144-145
Malcolm T. Sanford
I first journeyed
to Brazil in the wake of a
sabbatical study in Bologna, Italy.1 Apimondia, the World Beekeeping
Congress, convened that year (1989) in Rio
de Janeiro. It
was a time of great turmoil in the world’s fifth largest country, when measured
by landmass. Government was in the final
stages of being passed from military dictatorship to civilian democracy. Inflation was at an all-time high; those
attending the congress saw their bus transport to the event, purchased in advance
from downtown to the Rio
Center on the outskirts of the city, evaporate as
the nuovo cruzado, the currency at the time, became
increasingly worthless. The Congress,
however, was a great success, and was a coming out of sorts for Brazilian
beekeeping. It featured two prominent
geneticists, Dr. Warwick Kerr of Brazil and Dr. Walter Rothenbuhler of The Ohio
State University, as honored guests, and was a first sign to the world that the
country was coming to terms with what introduction of the African honey bee had
I again visited Brazil
in 1996 after the 6th Ibero-Latinoamerican Beekeeping Congress held
in Mercedes Uruguay. The seventh will be held September 23-26,
2004 in Asunción, Paraguay. I attended the 2nd Encontro de Abehlhas,
a scientific bee meeting at the Ribeirão Preto campus of São Paulo University. In the space of several days, a bevy of
Brazilian researchers and scientists from other parts of the world strutted their stuff to both the scientific and lay
My next invitation was to the
heart of Brazil’s northern
interior, Teresina, the capital of the State of Piauí to attend the 11th
Congress. Over 2000 beekeepers were in
attendance; one of the largest bee meetings I had ever attended. The energy was palpable. It was in this part of the country that a new
sort of beekeeping was taking place, based on the Africanized honey bee’s
adaptability to the vast interior region called the sertão. The vegetational complex of the sertão,
called caatinga, it turns out has much in common with the African
savannah, where the African honey bee is so successful. It was obvious Brazilians were more than
optimistic about the future of beekeeping in their country.
In the year 2000, I found
myself in Florianópolis in Santa Catarina state. It was in this city that a group of
beekeepers and scientists in Brazil
decided to hold a seminal meeting in 1970, the first Brazilian Beekeeping
Congress. A major theme at that event
was the over defensiveness of the Africanized honey bee in Brazil and how
it might be managed. Much had obviously
changed since that first meeting.
Defensive behavior no longer seemed much of an issue. Other topics were much more emphasized.
As is the case with most
congresses in Brazil,
the 2000 Florianópolis event featured several surprises. When I inquired about the proceedings, I was
given a CD ROM disk. It had become too
expensive to print the voluminous paper edition summarizing all the posters and
presentations delivered at the event.
From now on these would only be available in digital format. At the same time, I became aware that another
kind of beekeeping in Brazil was fast gaining popularity featuring native,
stingless bees in the Hymenopteran insect order’s (ants, bees and wasps) family
meliponidae (abelhas sem ferrão). Thus,
I was not surprised when my latest presence at a beekeeping congress would also
be in conjunction with the first Brazilian Congress on Meliponiculture.
The theme of the 15th
Brazilian Beekeeping Congress (also the First Meliponiculture Congress), which
also included the first international honey exposition, was held in Natal,
Capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, May 18- 21, 2004 was improving the
quality of both the products derived from bee culture in all its forms and
equipment used in the craft. In a real
sense this represents a shift in Brazilian apiculture toward an era of
“professionalism” of the craft. What
this means to the beekeeping world is that Brazil is on the verge of becoming
a huge force in the international honey market.
Several things have come together to cause this. The first is the phenomenal productivity of
the Africanized honey bee, which is tolerant of the Varroa bee mite (Varroa
destructor) and so requires no chemical treatment. Second, there has been explosion in scientific
study and understanding about how to manage this bee, and finally, the
Brazilian government has seen the developmental possibilities of beekeeping and
has directed substantial resources toward this goal. This series of articles will take a closer
look at what has happened in these arenas to provide readers with a basic
understanding of the history of Brazilian beekeeping and its likely future.
History of Brazilian
At the Natal
congress, Dr. Lionel Segui Gonçalves presented a history of beekeeping
expansion in Brazil
and its global perspective. The craft
began in the 1830s, with the first honey bees imported from Europe (Apis
mellifera mellifera) by immigrants from the Old World. This is the same honey bee that was
introduced into the U.S.,
often called the German or black bee.
Like most other places in the New World,
introductions of Carniolan (Apis mellifera carnica) and Italian (Apis
mellifera ligustica) soon followed.
Beekeeping at the time was sedentary and not of great importance, being
mostly a religious activity (for the beeswax to make candles) and/or a
hobby. Honey production was less than
400 tons per year.
In 1956, Dr. Warwick Kerr
introduced African honey bees to Brazil. Originally identified as Apis mellifera
adansonii, they have been since renamed to Apis mellifera scutellata. Either way they have characteristics
different than European bees, especially when it comes to defensive
behavior. The story is well known about
the bees’ escape into the wild, where they became well established as a
poly-hybrid with mostly African characteristics and behavior.
The 1960s and 1970s,
according to Dr. Gonçalves, was a time of chaos in Brazilian beekeeping. Many abandoned the craft in the face of the
apparent unmanageability of these insects.
Little was known about their biology.
In addition, the bees became known as and still are considered “killer
bees” by the vast majority of humanity, made worse by sensationalized media
attention. Also known as “Brazilian” or
“assassin bees,” the Brazilians have worked hard and succeeded in shifting the
name of this insect to the more neutral Africanized honey bee.
The year 1970
was a seminal one with the first Brazilian Beekeeping Congress in
Florianópolis. Since then, slowly but
surely over the years, beekeeping has come back rather like a phoenix rising
from the ashes, according to Dr. Gonçalves.
The next twenty year period would see an explosion of both scientific
and beekeeping activity towards understanding the Africanized bee as it became
an established part on the Brazilian landscape.
The São Paulo
campus at Ribeirão Preto,
where Dr. Gonçalves is employed, has become a center of scientific study on
honey bees. Some 200 masters and
doctoral theses have resulted. The
faculty hired a North American scientist and former New York bee inspector, Dr. David DeJong,
trained by Dr. Roger Morse. There are
now 11 professors working with bees on this campus, probably the largest
concentration in the world.
Interestingly, none consider themselves
apiculture specialists per se, but use bees as research subjects. And numerous
scientific papers and conventions (Encontros) continue to be held on the
Ribeirão Preto campus. The
6th Encontro de Albelhas will take place at the local Hotel
JP2 on September 6-10 20043. This is expected to be an extraordinary
meeting with English as the main language.
A lineup of speakers from all over the world is expected, many from North America. It
will be held as part of the 8th International Bee Research Association’s (IBRA) International
Conference on Tropical Bees.4
Dr. Gonçalves noted in his
presentation that there are currently scientists and technicians with training
from Ribeirão Preto employed in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela,
Costa Rica, Mexico, Germany, France, and Austria.
The student output from other Brazilian
universities, which have followed in the footsteps of Ribeirão Preto, often through students
trained at that campus, also radiates out all over the country, as one can see
at any Congress. The Natal event featured over 100 posters on many
topics, mostly by students from a number of institutions. In addition, 55 speakers, including
scientists from the U.S.
(Dr. Marla Spivak) and Switzerland
(Dr. Stefan Bogdanov), gave presentations on everything from pollination to
A summary of the considerable body of honey bee knowledge acquired over the
years 1960s to 1991 was published as homage to Dr. Kerr in 1992. Entitled Brazilian Bee Research, the
book is 600 pages in Portuguese with English abstracts, and characterized in
the introduction as, "...a resource for beekeepers, teachers, students and
researchers in Brazil
and around the world." Other
resources also exist. One CD ROM,
produced by the Department of Plant Pathology, Universidade Federal de Rio
Grande Do Sul, Coordinated by Prof. Aroni Sattler, contains the proceedings of
all the apicultural congresses and seminars held since the 1980s.5
During the last two decades,
Dr. Gonçalves says, there was also great growth in both beekeeping equipment
and products in the country. Thus, Brazil has
become not only self-sufficient, but an exporter in stainless steel extractors,
uncappers, wax foundation, and other items.
In addition, there has been a proliferation of paraphernalia from large
smokers to space-age bee suits. Bee
products from specialty honey, to propolis and pollen to cosmetics and
ointments and salves with medicinal properties continue to be developed. The Expoapis (display area) in Natal featured over a
hundred exhibits showing every kind of product imaginable. Finally, there has been a huge increase in
the number and activity of Brazilian beekeeping Associations. The Associaçao Paulista de Apicultores
Criadores de Abelhas Melíficas Européias (APACAME), for example, is celebrating
its twenty-fifth year. It publishes 5000
copies each printing of a magazine called Mensagem Doce (Sweet Message),
which has the motto: “We are not rich; we are organized.”6 At the Natal Congress, a
good-natured but intense competition between various associations, often
dressed in distinctive, coordinated t-shirts, not only in beekeeping activity,
but also dancing and making was music was also in evidence.
Again, most of this recent
beekeeping activity is based on the Africanized honey bee, according to Dr.
Gonçalves. Brazilians have come to
prefer this bee due to its capacity to adapt to many
of the ecosytems found in the country and its inherent tolerance to parasites
and diseases. It continues to confound
many elsewhere and delight Brazilians that the Varroa mited (Varroa
destructor), although universally present, does not result in wholesale
deaths of colonies. As a result there is
no need to chemically treat colonies.
It seems remarkable that only
in the late 1970s did beekeeping penetrate into Brazil’s northeast. As I wrote in my report on the 11th
Congress in Teresina:
“Brazil's northeast, like its Amazon
rainforest, is one of the last frontiers in this huge country. During World War
II, it became the stopover for many flights in an effort to find the shortest
over-water route to supply troops in North Africa
and elsewhere. Thus, Natal,
other northeastern Brazilian coastal cities became well known in the early days
of aviation and continue to be tourist destinations today. This is the poorest region of Brazil,
principally due to the environmental conditions of the interior, a vast region
called the sertão. Because of
its extreme aridity and general inaccessibility, it was considered useless
agriculturally for many years. Those
owning land in the sertão abandoned/sold it whenever possible. The
region is undergoing renaissance of sorts, however, and there is increasing
economic activity of all kinds, including beekeeping.
“When the rains come to the sertão, they inundate this Brazilian
upland with huge quantities of water for months on end. Once the floods stop, the land quickly
becomes parched again. Most plants and
animals inhabiting the area flourish during the wet period then physiologically
withdraw until the next rains, often more than a half a year away. The bees of
the sertão are no exception to this pattern. With the appearance of
the first rain drops, these insects seem to appear out of nowhere to take
advantage of the abundant pollen and nectar produced by a wide variety of
plants in the predominant vegetative association called caatinga.
“The sertao is
perfect country for the Africanized honey bee.
It is well adapted to produce the reproductive and migratory swarms
required by this harsh environment. The
region is also home to a large number of stingless bees that produce smaller
amounts of a qualitatively different honey than Apis bees. Although not as efficient in collecting and
processing nectar, native, stingless bees are important to the region's ecology
and increasingly, its economy.
“The brothers Arlindo and Arnaldo Wenzel from the southern state of São Paulo and Américo
Bende from the northern state of Piauí teamed up to bring the first Langstroth
hives to the sertão in December 1977, when they introduced 300
colonies of Apis bees. The
results were nothing less than spectacular.
In three months, they produced the same amount of honey as during an
entire year in Sã Paulo state. Since
then, the Wenzels have averaged 200 tons of honey per year with 5,000 colonies,
reaching their highest yield in 1988 of 375 tons.”
Beekeeping continues to spread out across the northeast, especially into the
states of Ceará and Rio Grande
do Norte, which have higher population densities and are closer to major ports
than most of Piauí. This is setting the
stage for huge growth in the region, especially the export market. The conclusion of almost anyone looking at
the beekeeping industry in this area of the world can only be summed up by the
phrase: lookout world here comes Brazil.
- M.T. Sanford, Apis Newsletter, IFAS
University of Florida , July and August 1989<http://apis.ifas.ufl.edu/apis89/apjul89.htm#1>
accessed July 19, 2004.
- Hotel JP Home Page <http://www.hoteljp.com.br/>,
accessed July 19, 2004.
- Sixth Encontro de Abelhas Home Page <http://rge.fmrp.usp.br/abelhudo/>,
accessed July 19, 2004.
- International Bee Research Association Home Page
July 19, 2004.
- For more information, e-mail <email@example.com>.
- Page <http://www.apacame.org.br>,
accessed July 19, 2004.
Beekeeping in Brazil: A Slumbering Giant Awakens, Part II.
Malcolm T. Sanford
last article, I said that one of the reasons for Brazil’s advances in apiculture is
the flurry of scientific inquiry that is the legacy of the Africanized honey
bee’s introduction into that country.
The details concerning the introduction and its effects in Brazil and the rest of the Americas have
been described in many articles and books over the years. Most recently, a volume by Dr. Dewey Caron
has emerged as a well-documented summary of what we know to date 1
started with a man who had the vision and then the wherewithal to accomplish
the task of introducing African tropical honey bee stock to a country where beekeeping
had stagnated based on the temperately-adapted European honey bee. Brazilian geneticist Dr. Warwick Kerr’s story
is a fascinating one of science mixed with politics. Perhaps the best treatment is that by Wallace
to Mr. White, Dr. Kerr was originally asked by the Brazilian government to
import queens from Angola, South Africa and Tanzania. All those from Angola
died (killed it seems by order of a misguided consular official in Portugal), but Dr. Kerr arrived in Rio de Janeiro with 75 from South Africa. Dr. Kerr was aware that African honey bees,
although productive, were also likely to be fiercely defensive, far more so
than the gentle European (Italian) bees then employed in Brazilian apiculture. Thus, he used precautions by introducing the
queens into nuclei (small colonies) of European bees and quarantining the
colonies in the Rio Claro
area. The idea was to control the
genetics through instrumental insemination.
White reported that after some selection and natural mortality, 28 or 29 nuclei
became the basis for the breeding effort by Dr. Kerr. From these colonies a group of queens were
reared and inseminated with sperm of European (Apis mellifera ligustica) drones.
Selection from the first cross, the F1 hybrid, produced daughter queens
for subsequent generations. One queen in
particular from Tanzania
produced colonies that appeared to be more productive but, unfortunately, these
were extremely defensive. All was
progressing well until one day in the fall of 1957 a visiting beekeeper removed
the barriers (queen excluders) keeping the queens from escaping. Twenty-six of the queens accompanied by
swarms of workers left these hives and are considered the origin of the
so-called Africanized honey bee.
of the controversies created by this introduction, Dr. Kerr’s reputation has
fluctuated from pariah to savior over the ensuing years. Nevertheless, his scientific legacy now
consists of an army of academic children and grand children that has
proliferated across the Brazilian landscape.
He has in fact become a celebrity; throngs of folks queued up to get his
autograph at the beekeeping congress in Natal. One reason for his reputation is the
activities of the campus of São Paulo University in the city of Ribeirão Preto. There a large faculty (eleven members) in the
schools of medicine (genetics) and basic sciences, many who studied under
and/or are affiliated with Dr. Kerr, have done research and education to
provide a basis for effective management of the Africanized honey bee in
Brazil. As homage to him, this faculty
published a summary of the considerable body of honey bee knowledge acquired
over the years 1960s to 1991 with English summaries.3
changes fostered in Brazil
based on Dr. Kerr’s introduction were due to a rapid shift from European
temperate honey bee behavior to that of the African tropical honey bee. The one trait that received the vast majority
of the attention in the beginning and was to dominate the discussion for many
years was defensive behavior. Many wild
and, more significantly, managed colonies by beekeepers in Brazil and
elsewhere in the American tropics have become much more defensive in the wave
of the continents’ shift to Africanized honey bees. This has led to stinging incidents that,
while greater than those provoked by European bees, have generally been over
sensationalized by media outlets in Brazil and elsewhere.4
not surprising, therefore, that defensive behavior has
been given a great deal of research attention in Brazil. Indeed, the first Brazilian Congress in 1970
in Florianópolis had that as its theme.
A summary of the impact of this research was provided at the Second
Encounter (Encontro) in Ribeirão Preto
by Dr. Antonio Carlos Stort, who has dedicated
much of his career to this topic. He
is great variability in defensiveness in Brazil. It has been shown that climactic factors are
important, as is production of alarm pheromone.
Using this information, selection at the Ribeirão Preto campus and the subsequent
release of well over 30,000 European queens to the beekeeping industry
ameliorated the defensiveness in colonies, especially
during the initial period of adaptation.
Not only have Brazilian beekeepers learned the effectiveness of requeening,
however, but they also have adapted in other ways, including more judicious use
of smoke. Thus, defensiveness is no
longer the number one concern of the beekeeping industry.”5
Stort also describes a unique Brazilian development, creation of a honey bee
with a "split sting," resulting from exposing the insects to cobalt
60 radiation. The process creates a
mutation, and the sting apparatus does not develop correctly. As a result, these bees cannot physically
sting. Beekeepers themselves have chosen
not to use this kind of bee, which is in effect defenseless, however it has
potential in some areas where risks of stings must be minimized.
Eng. Agr. Paulo Gustavo Sommer, ex-president
of one of Brazil’s
largest beekeeping associations, also credits scientific investigation as being
responsible for beekeeping’s resurgence.
Like a phoenix, rising from the ashes, he says, beekeeping has become a
robust commercial activity based on the very insects that caused its decline in
the first place, Africanized honey bees.
Over ninety percent of Brazilian colonies are now managed in modern
moveable-frame Langstroth equipment. A
growth rate of 4.5 percent per year in honey production since 1985 has resulted
in production of 35,000 tons in 1996, rivaling nearby Uruguay. And there seems little reason, Eng. Sommer
concluded, that a level of 200,000 tons per year could not be reached in the future.6 In
2004, just one company (Mel Brazil Tropical) in the State of Rio Grande do
Norte exported 1.5 million kilograms (1,650 tons), less than half that
individual state’s crop.7
the Langstroth hive, other modifications in beekeeping technique have been made
to accommodate the Africanized honey bee, according to Eng. Sommer. Wax foundation has been adjusted to the bee's
size, somewhat smaller than the European bee.
The increased defensive behavior required a different smoking
technique. Huge numbers of migratory and
reproductive swarms nesting in many places and the possibility of them stinging
the general public have presented challenges and opportunities in trapping
bees. Finally, beekeepers have actively
selected their bees to eliminate many objectionable behaviors.
the most important attributes of the Africanized bee in Brazil, Eng. Sommer
Increased hygienic behavior.
Greater natural resistance against pests and diseases.
Superior pollination in intensively cultivated fields.
Stronger genetic dominance.
Increased defensive and swarming behavior.
latter behaviors would seem to be counterproductive at first, but proof that
they are controllable is found in the present condition of Brazil's
beekeeping industry. And a good part of the reason for this are the hundreds of short
courses, symposiums, seminars and many national congresses that have been given
over the years."8 As I noted in my previous article in
this journal, the results of many of these conventions and congresses have been
published on a CD ROM by the Department of Plant Pathology, Universidade
Federal de Rio Grande Do Sul, coordinated by Prof. Aroni Sattler.9
congress in Natal continued the tradition of
providing a plethora of scientific information to Brazil’s beekeeping industry.. It featured 55
presentations by scientists from Brazil,
as well as the United States
and Switzerland. In addition, there were 121 posters on many
subjects, including, biology and ecology of bees (18), bee plants and
pollination (22), bee health (16), bee products (23), bee management (10), and
others, including twenty on the culture of stingless bees
(meliponiculture). The majority of the
presentations were published in the Congress annals on a CD ROM disk for
delivery to participants.
Perhaps the most significant areas of scientific
inquiry at the Natal Congress concerned honey production and exportation (Dr.
Lionel Segui Gonçalves) defensive behavior (Dr. Antonio Carlos Stort), swarm
trapping (Dr. Ademilson Spencer Soares), hygienic behavior (Dr. Marla Spivak),
honey contamination (Dr. Stefan Bogdanov), diagnosis of American foulbrood (Dr.
David De Jong), and advances in honey bee genomics (Dr.
Zilá Luz Paulino Simões). In
addition, the Meliponiculture Congress was anchored by two of the main
contributors to the science and art of raising stingless bees, Dr. Warwick Kerr
himself, and a pioneer in designing nests to accommodate this kind of activity,
Dr. Paulo Nogueira Neto.
Dr. Gonçalves’ remarks were mentioned in the previous article in this series
and will be given more treatment in later articles. Dr. Stort summarized continued research on
defensive behavior. Specifically
looking at alarm pheromone production in differing populations, measured by
standard stinging tests using tethered balls at the entrance.
studies have pioneered research in trapping swarms to reduce populations of
Africanized bees in urban areas, like Ribeirão
city is impacted by large numbers of bees from nearby sugar cane
plantations. Trapping technology has
been transplanted elsewhere and been well studied. The use of proper trap sizes, in conjunction
with a Nasanov (orientation) pheromone lure is quite effective in attracting
and intercepting swarms. This
is so much the case that a niche market in the pest control industry has been
carved out in the western United
States of America where Africanized honey
bees are resident.10
(American foulbrood or AFB is not yet present) are tolerated remarkably well by
the Africanized honey bees of Brazil
as are Varroa mites. No antibiotics or
chemicals are routinely in use for any condition even in the face of universal
Varroa infestations. One reason for this
may be increased hygienic behavior. Work
on this by Dr. Marla Spivak at the University
of Minnesota and one of
the technology’s main proponents has caught the Brazilian’s eye. Dr. Spivak, therefore, was one of the main
speakers on this subject in Natal. Her message that selecting for hygienic
behavior is a prime way to control most diseases and also is important in
mite-tolerant honey bees is being taken seriously in Brazil.
This line of work has been taken up by Dr. Kátia Peres
Gramacho in collaboration with Dr. Gonçalves.
They have confirmed and elaborated on the contribution of Dr. Walter
Rothenbuhler, a pioneer in this arena, suggesting a new hypothesis. for the origin of hygienic behavior based on sequences they
observed in observation hives, including puncturing the capping, removing the
capping, and removing the cell contents.
Instead of two recessive genes (u=uncapping and r=removing) as proposed
by Dr. Walter Rothenbuhler, therefore, they have identified three (u1, u2 and
r). Thus, they conclude, “In order to
uncap the cell, the bee should have both u1 and u2 genes as homozygous (u1/u1,
u2/u2). Only one u1 or u2 gene as
homozygous would determine the puncturing (u1/u1, u2/+ or u1/+,u2/u2) and the three genes as homozygous would be
responsible for the uncapping and removal (u1/u1, u2/u2, r/r).”11
fortunate, that Brazil
does not yet have AFB (or if so, it has not been detected, nor is it
widespread). However, at the Natal congress, there was
fear that it was just a matter of time before it might arrive from the
south. Argentina is the most likely source
as that country has had much experience not only with the disease itself, but
also antibiotic-resistant forms.
David De Jong, an ex-New York bee inspector,
trained under Dr. Roger Morse (Cornell
University) now on the Ribeirão Preto faculty
discussed the real threat that exists should AFB be introduced. There is the fear that when detected,
Brazilian beekeepers may attempt to control it using antibiotics. Should this happen, one of the few places on
earth where truly organic honey can be produced would be at risk of
contaminated honey like much of the rest of the world..
contamination by producers is not yet a threat in Brazil, but it doesn’t take much to
spoil the show, according to Dr. Stefan Bogdanov. He described a litany of problems that now
face the global market in both honey and beeswax caused by contaminants
principally used to control diseases and mites.12 It is hoped that those in the
Brazilian beekeeping scene will take Dr. Bogdanov’s message seriously, clearly
the reason he was invited by the organizers.
High technology genetics was also featured
at the Natal Congress. Dr. Zilá Luz
Paulino Simões described her work with vitellogenin, juvenile hormone and prophenoloxidase
through DNA and RNA analysis. She is
also an important part of the honey bee genome sequencing project.13
Other work by Brazilian scientists
encompasses many aspects of beekeeping. At the Natal
congress, there were discussions of producing pollen and propolis. There is a huge interest in the latter
product, as some of the world’s most active and complex
propolis is collected by bees in Brazil. Honey dew is also being looked at. A huge source appears to be the bracatinga
vegetational complex in the southern state of Santa Catarina.
summarize, introduction of the Africanized honey bee has resulted in a
phenomenal growth in scientific effort with Dr. Warwick Kerr as its undisputed
leader. His students and colleagues have
now proliferated around the country and are continuing their studies. The leader in this activity at the present
time is the faculty of São Paulo University in the city of Ribeirão Preto. With the fruits of this legacy continuing in
full swing, the Brazilian beekeeping industry has a solid basis on which to
build a future honey industry without rival in both quantity and quality.
Honey Bees in the Americas, A.I. Root Co., 2001.
W. “The Bees From Rio Claro” New Yorker, September 16, 1991.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Soares,
A. E. and D. De Jong eds., Pesquisas Com
Abelhas No Brasil: Brazilian Bee
Research, Sociedade Brasileira de Genética,
Malcolm T., Apis Newsletter, University
of Florida, May 1992 <http://apis.ifas.ufl.edu/apis92/apmay92.htm
>, accessed August 23, 2004
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>Stort,
Antonio, “Comportamento de abelhas africanizadas,” Anais de II Encontro Sobre
Abelhas, , Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo,
6-9 June 1996, pp. 171-179 (Author’s translation)>.
P.G., Proceedings of the Eleventh
Brazilian Beekeeping Congress, Teresina, November 26 through 30, 1996, as
reported in The Speedy Bee, February
de Natal, Sunday 23 May 2004, p.5.
P.G., Anais de IV Encontro Sobre Abelhas,
Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, 6-9 September 2000 (translated by M.T.
more information, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org.
J. O., S. C. Thoenes and R. Hurley, “Swarm traps, an idea whose time has come,” Bee Culture, Vol.
118 (1990), pp. :217-219,223.> See
accessed August 23, 2004.
K.P.and L.S. Gonçalves, “The Sequences of the Hygienic Behavior Process of
Carniolan Worker Honey Bees (Apis mellifera carnica). 2001.
Proceedings of the 37th Apicultural Congress, Durban, South
Africa, p. 17.
Symposium, October 10-11, 2002, Preventing Residues in Honey Agenda <http://www.bieneninstitut.de/PDF/Apimondia
Program Final.pdf>, accessed August 23, 2004.
<![if !supportLists]>13. <![endif]> Honey Bee Genome Sequencing
Proposal World Wide Web page <http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Research/Sequencing/SeqProposals/HoneyBee_Genome.pdf>,
accessed August 23, 2004.
Beekeeping in Brazil: A Slumbering Giant Awakens, Part III.
Malcolm T. Sanford
In a previous article I said that Eng. Paulo
Sommer had concluded there was no reason why Brazil would not reach a honey
production of 200,000 tons in the near future.
The figures for total production are difficult to come by given the
vastness of the country. Much more
reliable are export figures. Dr. Lionel
Gonçalves’ paper presented at the15th Beekeeping Congress in Natal detailed this information:1
Brazilian Production and Value (Thousands of
U.S. Dollars) of Exported Honey Years 2002-2003.
Value (U.S. Thousand Dollars)
Honey Production (Tons)
Total Agribusiness (U.S. Thousand
If we accept that only 20 percent of the
honey produced is exported, then 40,000 tons exported could be extrapolated to
the required figure (20% of 200,000 tons).
has a ways to go to reach Eng. Sommer’s figure, but if it continues to double
production each season, it could achieve such a goal relatively quickly.
Honey production in the aggregate
nationwide is not the best way to monitor what’s really happening. Dr. Gonçalves also breaks down his numbers by
region according to data from Cristal Honey International.2
Brazilian Honey Exportation in Tons by Region
2001 to June 2003
If production and marketing stay on this
track, exports will almost double by the end of 2003. Notice that the northeast is coming on
strong. It represented less than 10
percent of the amount exported in 2001, but by June of 2003 that number had
risen to 32.1 percent. The 2004 value of
the production is even more, given the fact that two of the world’s major honey
suppliers, China and Argentina,
continue to have their honey sales restricted (banned in some countries) due to
Dr. Gonçalves states that the contribution of
the states of Piauí and Ceará represents an explosion of apicultural activity
northeast. Other states, which had
relatively little production before arrival of the Africanized honey bee, have
also had increases, including Pernambuco, Maranhão, Bahia and Rio Grande do Norte
According to information presented at the
First Conference on Northeastern Honey Exportation, July 2003 in Salvador, Bahia, Dr. Gonçalves
says the number of beekeepers in the states of Piauí, Ceará and Bahia also increased significantly in the last five
years. Many government programs have
begun to help beekeepers, including those of Emparn, Incra, Embrapa (Projeto
Prodetab), MMA and Sine. Lending
institutions have also provided credit, guaranteed loans and grants, including
Banco do Brasil, Banco do Nordeste, and Pronaf (Programa Nacional de
Agricultura Familiar). Specific problems
Dr. Gonçalves sees are caused by a general lack of knowledge in relation to
honey bee management and honey quality by many beekeepers. This will require creation of laboratories
for analysis of honey and other beekeeping products, as well scientific effort
and education to help beekeepers understand bee pathology and bee botany in the
region known as the sertão,
with its unique vegetational complex, the caatinga.
The Role of Sebrae:
Taking up Dr. Gonçalves’ challenge is a
national apicultural program (Project Apis) launched by Sebrae in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia. Sebrae is one of those ubiquitous acronyms
standing for Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas
(Brazilian Partnerships Aiding Small and Micro Businesses).3
Sebrae appears to be something like the U.S.
Small Business Administration, but much larger.
It encompasses not only agriculture, but also other small enterprises,
providing various services including courses and consulting. Headquartered in Brasilia,
it has offices in 26 Brazilian states as well as the Federal
District. Created in 1990
under two pieces of legislation (8.029 and 8.154), its stated mission is to
promote competitiveness and sustainable development in Brazilian small
Sebrae’s “Projeto Apis,” consists of a number
of programs and courses directed towards promoting apiculture and educating
beekeepers. In a presentation given at
the Natal congress, Reginaldo Barroso de Resende
from the head office in Brasilia
gave a synopsis of the rationale and details of this effort. Billed as a program to develop both an
integrated and sustainable beekeeping enterprise, it has a number of
goals. The first “Espacio Apicola” (bee
space) of “Projeto Apis” was inaugurated at the 1996 Brazilian Congress in Teresina. Called Apis Araripe, it had the following
<![endif]>Increase by 20% the number of
persons directly employed in beekeeping by December 2004
<![endif]>Increase by 25% annual honey
production by December 31, 2004
<![endif]>Increase by 35% the volume of
honey processed by December 31, 2004
<![endif]>Increase by 30% the quantity of
honey exported by December 31, 2004
With this as a start, the following actions
and associated costs are anticipated throughout Brazil according to Mr.
Barroso. The complete project is
expected to cost 1,635,000 Brazilian Reais or R$ ($USD 1.00 = 3R$), including
15 stores at 26,000 R$ each
15 bee spaces at 18,000 R$ each
15 technological clinics for education at
15,000 R$ each
Much of this effort was evident at the Natal congress. Most states had a separate Sebrae stand in
the “Espacio Apicola” exposition area corresponding to “Projecto Apis,”
providing literature and distributing information about all phases of
beekeeping. Also evident was the Banco
do Brasil, which also had a stand, and is integrated into the bee project on
several levels as its prime financier.
The focus of the efforts of Sebrae in the
State of Rio Grande do Norte could be seen everywhere.4 The organization put up much of the
Congress’ financing. The exhibition hall
had 12 Sebrae-sponsored rooms dedicated to educating beekeepers on a number of
subjects, including producing and processing honey and propolis, raising
queens, feeding techniques and disease identification. Parked outside the building was a white truck
that in essence is a moveable classroom.
An article in the Natal
newspaper says the number of beekeepers in the state of Rio Grande do Norte has increased by a factor
of six in the last two years. Over a
million kilograms (1,100 tons) of honey left the port
of Natal in 2003, bound mostly for Germany. The article says a “beekeeping boom” began in
2000, and one company, Mel Brasil Tropical, will export about 1.5 million
kilograms (1,700 tons) in 2004. Mostly,
this is the result of small to mid-sized beekeepers supported and developed by
the activities of Sebrae. There is great
optimism in the state of Rio Grande de Norte, the article concludes, which in
the next five years will surpass the states of Ceará, Piauí and Bahia in honey production.5
After the Congress, I was hosted by Valdemar
Belchior Filho, one of the event’s organizers, in the city of Mossoró, where he is in charge of the local
Sebrae office. This is the largest
inland town in Rio Grande do Norte, a state very much like Texas, complete with
cows, oil wells and its own famous outlaws.
Billed as Brazil’s “Land of Liberty,” Mossoró, “Capital of the
Semi-Arid Land,” was the first place in the country to free its slaves, and
give women the vote. Every June it
celebrates the epic battle between its good citizens and a band of outlaws (cangaceiros), headed by the famous
Lampião (Captain Virgulino). The gang
was met by a hail of bullets at Mossoró’s São
Vicente church in 1927 and forced to withdraw after
taking many casualties.6 Other principal activities are salt mining and melon
production. The latter activity again is
based on support of Sebrae, which also is now looking at educating beekeepers
to become commercial pollinators of this important export crop.
I was fortunate enough to visit two separate
areas where beekeeping is alive and well, principally due to the efforts of
Sebrae. The first was Serra do Mel
(Honey Hill), almost due east of Mossoró.
Here vast plantations of cashews are planted in the caatinga. The place got its
name before the Africanized honey bee’s arrival, however, due to a huge number
of native stingless bees that are still resident there. We visited a meliponiario, which rears and
collects honey from native bees. Later
we were able to see several apiaries and honey houses under construction in
this area supported by Sebrae and financed by loans from Banco do Brazil.
The native vegetation in this part of Rio Grande do Norte is much like the great mats of ruderal
plants one sees in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is is estimated to cover 900,000 square
kilometers and is perfectly adapted to Apis
mellifera scutellata, the ancestor of the hybridized Africanized bee now
found everywhere. It is not difficult to
see the possibilities for huge amounts of organic honey to be produced by a
population of Varroa- and disease-resistant feral honey bees.
I also visited the town of Apodi on the banks of the river with the same
name that is south and west of Mossoró.
My guide, a technical advisor for Sebrae, Armando Ferreira, revealed his
excellent training in the beekeeping craft.
At one place we visited a well-appointed honey house, and Armando showed
two young men how to improve the foundation they were extruding using a
hand-operated mill. In another spot on
the outskirts of Mossoró, he told some workers who were assembling frames and
supers that a critical measurement was in error. There was too little space between the top
bars of the frames of one super and bottom bars of the super above. This favored development of wax moth larvae,
since they could squeeze into this space and be protected from efforts by adult
bees to remove them.
There is little doubt that the considerable
efforts of Sebrae have been extremely successful in the state of Rio Grande do Norte,
where beekeeping activity is really just beginning. At the present time, some 3,000 beekeepers
manage 50,000 hives. Most are
small-scale with 10-20 colonies. Average
honey production is 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of honey per hive. There are 25 beekeeping associations, 32
honey houses, and one exporting facility serving the state’s beekeeping
community. Sebrae has put on numerous
seminars and trained 2,000 new beekeepers in the last year and a half.
Sebrae, in cooperation with Brazil’s
Promotion Export Association (APEX)7, has
also publishes information that seeks to help beekeepers market their
honey. Much of it looks like something
that the National Honey Board might distribute.
A slick brochure contains information on honey for export from Rio
Grande do Norte state, including that produced by Mel Brasil Tropical, 8
Flora do Nordeste, Mel da Serra Beekeeping Association, Apiário Brasil Flora,
Mel de Sertão, Mel do Cabugi and Mel Brasileiro. It concludes: “Rio Grande do Norte aims to reach
international markets, offering pure, tasteful, organic honey, produced with
In the same packet of information mentioned
above published by Sebrae another kind of honey is offered. This is the sweet from the Meliponário Santa
Felicidade called mel de jandaíra. It brings into the focus the other kind of
beekeeping in Brazil,
which uses native, stingless bees (abelhas
sem ferrão) in either the family Trigona or
Melipona. Sebrae will be supporting this
kind of activity in the near future as well.
The keeping of Brazil’s native stingless bees has
become a focus of Dr. Warwick Kerr’s work in recent years. Another pioneer in the area is Dr. Paulo
Nogueira Neto, who has extensively experimented with making appropriate nesting
boxes. Honey from these insects is quite
different than that produced by Apis
bees, has a local reputation for health benefits, and because the bees make
very little, is much more expensive.
This activity has spawned enough interest
such that the Natal
congress also was co-named the first to be dedicated to meliponiculture. Both Drs. Kerr and Nogueira Neto presented
information on this activity, the former with relation to Amazonian Indians
culturing native bees, and the latter concerning regulation of the activity to
conserve the resource. A local stingless
beekeeper, P.R. De Menezes, provided a description of the activity in Rio Grande do Norte
state. In a recent census, some 86
stingless beekeepers were counted, managing 4,446 colonies. The vast majority (86%) were keeping the bee
called jandaíra (Melipona subnitida),
but a sprinkling of several other species are also kept, including Scaptotrigona sp. and Melipona scutellaris (uruçú).
Jandaíra is the true native bee of the sertão. However, little is known about its biology
and the practice of going into the bush and harvesting its nests could cause
this resource to precipitously decline.
Several studies are now ongoing, therefore, to ensure that the culture
of this bee can be a sustainable activity.
An important one is found on the World Wide Web.9 Its goals are:
a) Educate local youth -
For each child a tree. Explain the importance of bees for the environment and
for people. See the children's booklet about the Jandaíra;
catingueiras, imburanas, jacarés, faveleiras, umbuzeiros, juazeiros and
baraúnas - studying the best reforesting method;
c) In each
property, preserve natural areas which possess a certain number of these trees.
These are genetic banks for biodiversity;
creation of Ecological Stations and other conservation units in the
e) Emphasize more
sustainable development projects, with environment preservation as a main
According to the site, “This study is part of
the project ‘Culture of Caatinga native bees as a developmental sustainable
activity’ done by ADEMASP - Environmental Defense Association of São Paulo,
Ecology Department of the University of São Paulo, and the Federal University
of Paraíba. It is financed by the PPP, (Program for Small Projects) of the GEF
- Global Environmental Facilities.”
In conclusion, the keeping of both honey bees
and stingless bees in Brazil
appears to have a bright future. This is
especially true given that governmental assistance at many levels is
available. Of special significance are
the efforts of the governmental agency known as Sebrae, which through its
“Projeto Apis” seeks to develop and ensure that both activities are integrated
into the economy and sustainable throughout Brazil.
14 is equal to reference 1 in this section:
<![if !supportLists]>14. <![endif]>Gonçalves, L.S. “Expansion of
Brazilian Apiculture and its Relationship to International Beekeeping,”
Proceedings of the 15th Brazilian Apicultural Congress.
<![if !supportLists]>15. <![endif]>Crystal Honey International Web Site, accessed August 25, 2004 <http://www.cristalhoney.com.br>
<![endif]>Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas Web Site,
accessed August 25, 2004<http://www.sebrae.com.br/br/osebrae/osebrae.asp>.
<![if !supportLists]>17. <![endif]>Rio Grande do Norte SEBRAE Web Page, accessed August 25,
<![if !supportLists]>18. <![endif]>Diario de Natal, Sunday 23 May 2004, p.5.
<![if !supportLists]>19. <![endif]>All About Brazil Web Page, accessed August 25, 2004 <http://www.brazilbrazil.com/lampiao.html>.
<![if !supportLists]>20. <![endif]>Brazil Promotion Export Association Home Page, accessed August 25, 2004
<![if !supportLists]>21. <![endif]>Mel Brasil Tropical Home Page, accessed August 25, 2004 <http://www.melbrasiltropical.com.br>.
<![if !supportLists]>22. <![endif]>The culture of the jandaira bee (Melipona
subnitida) Web Site, accessed August 25, 2004 <http://www.ib.usp.br/jandaira/ingles/adema.htm>.
Beekeeping in Brazil: A Slumbering Giant Awakens, Part IV.
Malcolm T. Sanford
I described in an earlier article in this
series that through the efforts of Sebrae and other organizations, much of Brazil’s
beekeeping energy is and will be concentrated in small- to mid-sized beekeeping
outfits. However, that’s not to say that
some larger firms do not have their eye set on the country’s significant
apicultural possibilities. A quick scan
of the exposition area at the 15th Brazilian Apicultural Congress in
that large honey producers/exporters/packers, innovative product developers,
and a bevy of apicultural associations were in attendance.
Cearapi and Organic Honey:
As an example of the former category, I was
privileged to travel to Mossoró with Dr. Marco Bosia who is a co-owner/operator
of Cearapi: Brazilian Organic Honey, which had a major presence in the
exposition area in Natal. Dr. Bosia brings a formidable repertoire of
beekeeping experience to Brazil. As President of a prominent Swiss beekeeping
association, he was one of the principal organizers of the world apicultural
congress (Apimondia) held in Lausanne
in 1997. It was at that meeting that Dr.
Bosia began his close association with Brazilian beekeeping. He presented a talk on European organic honey
at the 12th Brazilian Apicultural Congress in Bahia
The headquarters of Cearapi
are in Crato in southern Ceará in a conservation zone (Area de Protecão
Ambiental Chapada de Araripe). According
to Cearapi’s web site, “In the Araripe Plateau, 3300 ft. above sea level, bees
find a rich native vegetation of wildflowers, especially cipó-uva, Serjania
[soapberry], which covers a large part of the plateau and flowers profusely
from September to November. The result is a light, mellow, savory honey, with
low water content, that consumers greatly enjoy. In the hinterlands, we have the caatinga
[scrubland] vegetation of wild bushes that begin to blossom in January. As this
coincides with the onset of the rainy season, the beehives are ready to produce
very aromatic and pleasant tasting honeys.”1
Cearapi is bringing high
technology to Brazilian organic honey production. The outfit confines itself to bee blowers,
using no chemicals for bee removal, and has a mobile acclimatized extracting
unit with stainless steel uncappers and extractors. Combs are removed and immediately extracted
right in field and in compliance with current HACCP regulations. The resulting honey is processed without
filtering, pasteurizing or heating to prevent enzymatic denaturing and
formation of hydroxymethylfurfural (HFM).
Cearapi also has an extensive quality control laboratory. It has an agreement with a local university
that enables the company to analyze the
physical/chemical, microbiological, and palynological (pollen analysis)
characteristics of each honey lot produced by its cooperators.
Cearapi´s apiaries and
those of its associated beekeepers are located using Geographic Positioning
Systems (GPS). Each is periodically
visited by technicians and monitored by satellite photographs, thus minimizing
risk of contamination. This is a
formidable task. Some 180 beekeepers
manage 30,000 colonies for Cearapi in the states of Ceará,
Piauí, Bahia, Pernambuco, Maranhão, Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba.
In July 2001, Cearapi
obtained organic certification from Biodynamics Intitute (IBD), accredited by
the International Federation of Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and from ISO 65
by DAP/Germany. The Company was represented at BioFach 2002,
one of the world’s prominent organic food conventions.2 Although growing rapidly, the organic
movement still has a long way to go in its promotional activities and there
were several constraints listed at the conference affecting most of organic
agriculture: There are no official
statistics collected; the certifying firms do not share information (there are
many of them with differing restrictions), and it is an expensive process such
that only large firms can take advantage of the “organic” designation. Finally, Brazilian packaging regulations do
not allow the term “organic” to appear on domestic product.
In spite of these
limitations, organic honey production in Brazil has a bright future,
especially in an export market directed toward the world’s largest honey
consuming nations. These and other ideas
concerning organic honey are spreading rapidly throughout Brazilian beekeeping
circles and Cearapi’s leadership in this arena will certainly be an important
part of any future successes.
Innovative Bee Products:
Brazil is also a leader in many other bee products besides
honey. One of many examples of firms involved
in this activity is Prodapys, Productos Naturais (Apis Nativa). Located in Santa Catarina in southern Brazil,
Prodapys began in 1980 under the name Apiários Abelhinha, with 500
colonies. Since then it has become a
leader in the honey and bee product industry under the leadership of Célio H.M.
The Prodapys website3 states, “ Célio
went to Cuba a few times,
where he learned about research being done there and he befriended scientists
in the field, which resulted in building a bridge for the exchange of
information and also to sponsor researchers to come to Brazil to
give courses. He participated in
courses and congresses in Argentina,
Switzerland, Israel, China
He translated and published in Brazil,
with the author's permission, the scientist Dr. Shi Bolun, a book brought
from Peking about the therapeutic uses of
the royal jelly, honey and pollen. The book first became available in 1994 in
Goiás, during the X Brazilian Congress of Beekeeping.
“In 1996, the company financed an unpublished scientific research on the
effect of propolis as a bronchodilator, analgesic and anxiolytic. The research was done by Prof. Niraldo
Paulino, as a parallel theme to his masters degree
thesis at the Department of Pharmacology at the Universidade Federal de Santa
Catarina (UFSC). That research was the
grounds for registering the company's products with the Ministry of
Health.” That same year, a propolis
spray was introduced, using a proprietary method to achieve water solubility
for this normally alcohol dissolved product.
Finally, in1997 a laboratory was designed and built, and in the
following year, one of the most modern laboratories for bee products began
operation in Brazil.
At present over forty products are found in several lines developed by
Prodapys, including those to protect hair, body and face. A series of sun block formulas, according
to the website, provide “the most modern UVA/UVB sun block with the
protection of propolis. Propolis helps
to quickly heal micro wounds, which appear after long exposure to sunrays,
bringing about the immediate recovering of skin. It also acts as a powerful natural sun
block. The humidity touch and high
water resistance are characteristics of PRODAPYS Sun Protection Line. They provide a long lasting protection.”
Perhaps the most
innovative products are those in the “therapy” lines. There are two of these, classified as 1)
supplements and 2) therapeutics. In the
former can be found honey in various packs, including a uniquely-shaped
Brazilian honey bear. In the latter are
listed pollen and freeze-dried royal jelly.
Several others are based on what is called “apitoxin,” including Doctor
Bee Cream (for psoriasis and rheumatism), Doctor Proplis (anti tumor and cell
regenerative) and Reumatoxi (analgesic).
According to the Prodapys Website, “Apitoxin consists of a purified
poison extracted from bees of the Apis mellifera type that has been used by
popular medicine for the treatment of joint diseases, specially
Lest much of this be
dismissed too easily by skeptics, the Web Site lists a good many scientific
papers that have been published under the auspices of Prodapys. One thing to bear in mind is that Brazilian
propolis is considered different in many ways than that found elsewhere in the
world. Some consider it more
therapeutic. This appears to be in the
same way manuka honey is characterized.
Only some of the sweet called “manuka” is considered “active.”4
With reference to
associations, there are many in Brazil,
but one clearly stands out. It is the
Asociação Paulista de Apicultores Criadores de Abelhas Melíficas Européias –
São Paulo Association of beekeepers who breed European bees (APACAME). This association has served Brazilian
apiculture since 1979 with its motto: “We are not rich, we are organized.” Its main outreach is something that most who
are publishing in the beekeeping field would envy, a magazine called “Sweet
Message” (Mesagem Doce). Five thousand copies of this thirty-page slick,
colorful journal is published six times a year. The May 2004 edition contains an editorial
stating the case that it is a special year, the celebration of the
Association’s 25th anniversary.
That issue also has a series of articles about the Natal Congress.
A brief history of the
Association was published in the November 2004 issue of Mesagem Doce. Declared a
non-profit organization at its inception, APACAME consists of an administrative
directorate (two-year term), fiscal council (two-year term) and a general
assembly. It incorporates a number of
internal committees, each charged with a certain topic or area. These include managing a wide variety of
activities such as the Association’s physical presence (located in a historic
building, the Prédio Caza do Fazendeira in the city’s Parque da Água Branca),
bee school, film and slide collection, library and website. Other areas include purchasing honey for sale
and sponsoring trips for beekeepers to other countries in conjunction with
events such as Apimondia. The November
issue also contains articles on world honey prices, growth of beekeeping in
Tocantins state (with the help of Sebrae – see previous articles), and the
origin and evolution, social organization and communication system of the honey
bee as translated from the French (September 2000 L’Abeille de France
The magazine also connects
with APACAME’s web presence and back issues are listed on the website as
well. The Association’s home page
describes a variety of Brazilian informational resources.5 These include a series on the biology
of bees, and extensive lists of affiliated universities, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and associations involved in honey bee research, education
In this series
of articles, my objective was that readers get an up-to-date apicultural
perspective in the world’s fifth largest country by land mass. The history of Brazilian beekeeping is like
its samba music and Portuguese language, unique to Latin
America. Although it didn’t
turn out perhaps the way Dr. Warwick Kerr first envisioned, the results of his
grand experiment bore fruit and can no longer be denied. The purposeful introduction of the African
honey bee into this vast country has transformed beekeeping first in Brazil, and then in much of tropical America, from a
backwater endeavor into an enterprise of truly global proportions. The research of Brazil’s scientific
community and the unbridled optimism of its beekeeping entrepreneurs, coupled
with an almost infinite vegetative resource populated by productive Africanized
honey bees leaves no doubt that this giant sleeps no more.
This series of
articles would not have been possible without the help of a great number of
people. I cannot mention them all here,
but give special thanks to Drs. Lionel Gonçalves and Ademilson Espencer Soares
from the University of São Paulo Campus at Ribeirão Preto for their assistance in many
ways, and especially Dr. David de Jong, who reviewed these articles before they
appeared in print. In addition, thanks
to Sebrae for sponsoring my trip to Brazil,
and Valemar Belchior Filho and Armando Ferreira of the Sebrae office in
Mossoró, who provided me with a great many insights into Northeast
Finally, I am grateful to all those Brazilian beekeepers who have
unfailingly welcomed me with open arms to their past congresses in Teresina, Florianópolis and now Natal.
References: reference 23 equals 1 in this
<![if !supportLists]>23. <![endif]>Cearapi Web Page<http://www.cearapi.com.br>, accessed December 20, 2004
<![if !supportLists]>24. <![endif]>Biofach Web Page <http://www.biofach.com.de>, accessed December 20, 2004.
<![if !supportLists]>25. <![endif]>Prodapys Web Page <http://www.prodapys.com/br>,
accessed December 24, 2004.
<![if !supportLists]>26. <![endif]>Manuka Web Page<http://www.manukahoney.com.uk>, accessed December 24, 2004.
<![if !supportLists]>27. <![endif]>APACAME Web Page<http://www.apacame.org/br>,
accessed December 24, 2004.