Diversity of Stingless Bees in Ecuador, Pot-Pollen Standards, and Meliponiculture Fostering a Living Museum Meliponini of the World

  • Patricia VitEmail author
  • Silvia R. M. Pedro
  • Favian Maza
  • Virginia Meléndez Ramírez
  • Viviana Frisone


Despite their megabiodiversity, the stingless bees from Ecuador have been studied in relatively few projects. An advancement in Ecuadorian meliponiculture is possible despite the reluctant support of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Institute of Normalization in Ecuador. Diverse approaches to pursue the protection of ancestral knowledge – as that in the Good Living Plan Sumak Kawsay – are discussed: (1) diversity of Ecuadorian stingless bees, (2) valorization of Ecuadorian pot-honeys and pot-pollen, (3) impact of climate change in Meliponini biodiversity, and (4) the role of stingless beekeepers in heritage and conservation. We reviewed the literature on topics for the diversity of species and pot-pollen composition. Ecuador is megadiverse in stingless bees; a total of 132 species distributed in 23 genera were found in 24 provinces. We report 54 species collected during a pot-honey research project in 1 year (2014–2015), 26 of them for the first time in Ecuador. Stingless bees are key species of ecological and economic importance for their role as pollinators of native, wild, and cultivated plants – candidates to predict climate change impact. A living museum to embrace Meliponini of the world is presented as a project to support these efforts at a global scale in the tropics where stingless bees and their keepers live. The Route of Living Museums of Meliponini Bees in the World complies with the definition of eco-museum and enhances appreciation for stingless bees.



To Ecuadorian stingless beekeepers. To the Prometeo-UTMACH scholarship (2014–2015) to P. Vit for the research project “Valorization of Pot-Honey produced by Meliponini in Ecuador.” Professor Med. Vet. F Maza (Planning Director) and his secretary Mrs. E. Brito kindly supported the administrative needs for the research successfully hosted at Universidad Técnica de Machala, Ecuador. To the late Professor JMF Camargo, Biology Department, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, for his scientific rigor and artistic imprint in observing stingless bees and his legacy with the Camargo Collection – RPSP. To Professor Giovanni Onore, retired from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Ecuador, for his academic struggle and success in a society known for a peculiar reduction of heads in the forest and his seminal work on Ecuadorian Meliponini. V. Frisone’s work was supported by the Municipality of Montecchio Maggiore, Museo di Archeologia e Scienze Naturali “G. Zannato,” Italy. To appreciated comments of reviewers. Dr. DW Roubik kindly edited the English manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Vit
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Silvia R. M. Pedro
    • 3
  • Favian Maza
    • 4
  • Virginia Meléndez Ramírez
    • 5
  • Viviana Frisone
    • 6
  1. 1.Apitherapy and Bioactivity, Food Science Department, Faculty of Pharmacy and BioanalysisUniversidad de Los AndesMéridaVenezuela
  2. 2.Cancer Research Group, Discipline of Biomedical ScienceCumberland Campus C42, The University of SydneyLidcombeAustralia
  3. 3.Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto - FFCLRPUniversidade de São Paulo – USPRibeirão PretoBrasil
  4. 4.Academic Unit of Agro-Livestock SciencesUniversidad Técnica de MachalaMachalaEcuador
  5. 5.Departamento de Zoología, Campus de Ciencias Biológicas y AgropecuariasUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMéxico
  6. 6.Museo di Archeologia e Scienze Naturali ‘G. Zannato’Montecchio Maggiore, VicenzaItaly

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