Luis Morales Ibarra, one of our vanilla producers, talks to us about natural pollination via Melipona bees:
“There are two ways of pollinating vanilla--one of these being by hand. However, there is a second way of pollinating vanilla--a natural way through the use of the Melipona bees of the Huasteca Potosina. The Melipona bees pollinate vanilla flowers in March and April.
“Here we have a Melipona bee colony in its natural state. This is an avocado tree trunk which the bees have made into their home. Here you can see the Melipona bees coming in and out of their colony. The bees fill the tree trunk with honey and, after about a year, one can open the trunk and use the honey for various purposes.
“The Melipona bees are very noble creatures. As you can see, we can get very close to them and even touch them and, although they get upset, they don't sting. They are very beautiful and their honey is unique. We use the honey even for medicinal purposes--for example, to strengthen the body and to combat diabetes.
Thank God that He put us on this noble Earth, and that we are able to work together with the Melipona bees to produce vanilla. This has allowed us to grow natural, authentic, organic vanilla without the need for pollination by human hand.”