CAN YOU SEE THE BEE?
Brazil is the country with the second-largest number of cataloged bee species in the world, about 2,000. Among these we have stingless bees, with around 250 different species; these live in society, produce honey, and unlike the European Apis Mellifera, do not sting. Sadly, most Brazilians only know of the existence of a single bee species, which is the invasive European bee. Native bees are not only the most important pollinators of our native flora but are also part of an intricate and fragile web of life that is currently under threat. For each bee species that go extinct, there are far-reaching consequences for the entire ecosystem it belongs to, therefore it’s imperative to protect and care for our native bees.
Due to the deforestation of our native forests, many of those native bee species are at risk of extinction. The bee species presented in this project are native to a forest that has already been reduced to less than 10% of its original coverage, the Atlantic Forest.
Native beekeeping is a practice that has proven to be helpful for the survival and restoration of those native bee species. It helps keep the populations alive in places where the natural landscape got destroyed or got dominated by the invasive European bee.
As natural pollinators, native bees also contribute to the recovery of the ecosystem they belong to. I started this work in collaboration with Terra Mirim, a foundation that works on the recovery of the Atlantic Forest and has over 60 native beehives under their care, they also receive many visitors through the year who are looking for closer contact with nature. I believe awareness, knowledge, and proximity are important starting points for developing empathy towards other forms of life.
“Caring about nature broadly may begin with caring about individual animals (…) Care about individual animals develops naturally out of relationships” (Meyers Jr & Saunders, 2002) So I’ve been working with the development of Terra Mirim’s melliponary as an educational space for awareness of native bee species.
As a first stage, I’ve compiled information on native bees, their biology, the native history of beekeeping, societal behavior, their importance, risks, etc. Along with the photographs I’ve been taking, I am transforming this information into signboards to promote awareness among Terra Mirim’s visitors. All the photographs shown on this page were taken by me while developing this project.
Possibly the biggest learning point I’ll take with me from this project is the sense of appreciation for usually overlooked non-human life forms.