THE BEE PHOTOGRAPHER

Éric Tourneret

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Mexico

Stingless bee & equitable trade

 

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In Cuetzalam, the Totonac tradition of voladores is still very much alive. On the village square, a group of dancers throw themselves from the top of an enormous rough-hewn tree trunk. In the surrounding villages, each square still has its volador pole.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In the Tosepan offices, meetings amongst honey producers tackle problems of health and hygiene in addition to the subject of increasing the stingless bee population. Tosepan’s goal is to put into place apiaries of 100 hives per family. The producers presently have on average 30 hives, but this number varies from 10 to 278 hives.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In Tepetisnda, a woman in tradition Nahuatl dress brings flowers to Maria Rosa.
Kept by the women since time immemorial in earthen pots standing against the walls of the houses, the stingless trigona (trigona scaptotrigona) provides the perfect example of sedentary apiculture practiced for self-sufficiency.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The trigona bees, lacking a stinger, measure 5 millimeters in length and, in the wild, nest in holes in trees.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In Tepetisnda, a woman in tradition Nahuatl dress brings flowers to Maria Rosa.
Kept by the women since time immemorial in earthen pots standing against the walls of the houses, the stingless trigona (trigona scaptotrigona) provides the perfect example of sedentary apiculture practiced for self-sufficiency.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In the Tosepan offices, meetings amongst honey producers tackle problems of health and hygiene in addition to the subject of increasing the stingless bee population. Tosepan’s goal is to put into place apiaries of 100 hives per family. The producers presently have on average 30 hives, but this number varies from 10 to 278 hives.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The guard bees watch over the entrance to the hive, a veritable takeoff runway built of wax. The populations of trigona scaptotrigona can mainly be found on the central plateaus of Mexico (Sierra Madre). This bee is kept for its honey and for the pollination of the coffee plants. The trigona scaptotrigona can also be found in Africa and Australia.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The terra-cotta hives of the trigona scaptotrigona bees are called dashkat in Totonac, which means honey of the jungle, the woods. Families who still have two or three ceramic hives are starting to increase their bee stock at Tosepan’s instigation.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The guard bees watch over the entrance to the hive, a veritable takeoff runway built of wax. The populations of trigona scaptotrigona can mainly be found on the central plateaus of Mexico (Sierra Madre). This bee is kept for its honey and for the pollination of the coffee plants. The trigona scaptotrigona can also be found in Africa and Australia.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In Cuetzalam, Tosepan’s shop sells traditional crafts to the tourists, but also coffee and honey.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In the offices of Tosepan’s savings and loans bank (Tosepantomin), Nahuatl women wait at the counter. Entirely self-financed, Tosepantomin is today a success. It’s capital reaches nearly six millions euros.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In the offices of Tosepan’s savings and loans bank (Tosepantomin), Nahuatl women wait at the counter. Entirely self-financed, Tosepantomin is today a success. It’s capital reaches nearly six millions euros.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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A trigona scaptotrigona bee takes flight from the wax cone at the entrance to the earthen hive.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Belonging to the meliponini tribe, the trigona scaptotrigona’s brood cells are built on the horizontal, contrary to those of the European apis mellifera. These cells are constantly filled with new eggs. The stores of honey and pollen are placed around the brood cells in pockets.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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At 950 meters altitude, in the state of Puebla, a lush, semi-tropical vegetation carpets the foothills of the Sierra Madre, subject to frequent rains and violent storms… Its slopes are home to an important biodiversity.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Tosepan’s forest management favors biodiversity and conserves the hedges and embankments that shelter a flora rich in flowers during several months of the year.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In the Tosepan’s meeting room, the younger generation gives nutrition and health classes to their elders, often illiterate.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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A member of the organization visits a family of beekeepers.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Tosepan’s forest management favors biodiversity and conserves the hedges and embankments that shelter a flora rich in flowers during several months of the year.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Hand gathering from an earthen hive.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The face covered in stingless bees, the beekeeper only has to fear a few inconsequential bites.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Tosepan has an educational apiary.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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A trigona scaptotrigona bee on a coffee flower. The breeding of this bee brings the cooperative an undeniable extra in terms of the pollination of the coffee plants and therefore the quality of the coffee beans.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Unlike the European apis mellifera, the trigona scaptotrigona bee does not store the stock of honey and pollen in hexagonal cells, but in pockets sitting outside the brood cells.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Unlike the European apis mellifera, the trigona scaptotrigona bee does not store the stock of honey and pollen in hexagonal cells, but in pockets sitting outside the brood cells.

 

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Tosepan’s forest management favors biodiversity and conserves the hedges and embankments that shelter a flora rich in flowers during several months of the year.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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An Africanized bee gorges itself on nectar and gathers pellets of pollen from a flower of the datura arborea genus.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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In Tulum in the Yucatan, young Mayas dressed in western clothing visit the famous archaeological site. Born in the cities, many young people no longer speak their vernacular tongue.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Of the size of a European bee, the Maya bee, melipona beecheii, only leaves a very narrow entrance to its trunk hive to protect itself from attack by predators and rivals.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The seven women from the association “Ah Mucen Kab” around a trunk hive with a raffia roof in Leydi Araceli Pech Martin’s family garden. The association endeavors to prevent this endemic bee from becoming extinct on the peninsula.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The opening to a melipona beecheii’s trunk hive sealed at each end with dried earth. When Hernan Cortés landed with his armada in 1519, he discovered apiaries made up of several hundreds of hollowed out trunks placed horizontally in the shelter of palms.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Two beecheii bees cling to a wax surface.

 

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The brood cells of the bees of the meliponini family are laid out horizontally, unlike those of European bees. These cells are constantly filled with new eggs.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The honey from the meliponini, recognized for its therapeutic properties, sells for up to five times more than the honey from the European bee.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The brood cells of the bees of the meliponini family are laid out horizontally, unlike those of European bees. These cells are constantly filled with new eggs.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The association’s store was financed by the European Community.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Beecheii bees gorge themselves with honey during the harvest.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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The women from the association Ah Mucen Kab in front of their store, in the village of Icheck.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Beecheii bees gorge themselves with honey during the harvest.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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To the right, a melipona beechei queen with the abdomen swollen with eggs.

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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Beecheii bees gorge themselves with honey during the harvest.

 

bees © Éric Tourneret

 

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A beekeeper sells his honey at the evening market in Campeche.