The Mayan bee, our native bee
In the gardens, parks and forests of Guatemala, it’s common to appreciate the most famous pollinator: the bee. It’s likely that if you observe a bee, it’s Apis mellifera, which is also known as the domestic or European bee. It was introduced with the arrival of the Spaniards and has adapted very well throughout America. However, this is not our native bee.
|Apis mellifera, domestic or European bee.|
Our native bee, Melipona beecheii, is a stingless bee, it’s commonly known as a Mayan bee, jicote or criolla. It’s a robust bee, like the European bee, 9-10 mm long, black, orange and with yellow stripes. It’s native to Mesoamerica, in Guatemala they live at elevations of 0-2000 meters above sea level in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chiquimula, Quiché, Petén, Escuintla, Guatemala, Jutiapa, Retalhuleu, Sololá, Santa Rosa and Izabal(Escobedo, and others, 2017).
Giant armored grasshoppers at Naranjo sector of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo, Peten, Guatemala
Our continuing research in PNYNN finds trees, bushes, mushrooms that are not yet in any list of flora of this part of Peten (this park is between Tikal on the west and Belize near the east). Although our focus is on finding edible native plants and plants to provide materials for the Maya for thousands of years, we also do photography of birds (especially waterbirds), spiders, and insects.
Camera Nikon D810, lens Nikon AF-S Micro 60mm G; settings: ISO 8000, f 11, 1/250. Photo by Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth
Camera Nikon D810, lens Nikon AF-S Micro 60mm G; settings: ISO 1250, f11, 1/100. Photo by Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth
Camera Nikon D5; settings: ISO 2000, 1/800 sec, f/14. Photo by David Arrivillaga
Here are photos of the same Genus species in four different locations around Naranjo ruins and from Naranjo to Rio Holmul (about 20 kilometers to the north).
On the July field trip our team found lots of giant grasshoppers. These are solitary (meaning never in a group). Their bodies look as if they are totally armored to withstand attack from birds and other insectivorous creatures. We will do a web page on them and also a full-color PDF as soon as possible.
The Great White Egret, an emblematic water bird of the Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park
The Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park is considered a wetland of great importance for nature and human beings due to the diverse ecosystem services it presents. Ecosystem services are given thanks to the roles played by various agents in the ecosystem.
Aquatic birds are an essential part of ecosystems and provide specific ecosystem services, such as:
- Provision of food for predators.
- Provision of feathers as ornament.
- Control of diseases thanks to the fact that some of them are scavengers.
- Control of plant growth by foraging.
- Seed dispersal and pollination.
- Control of populations of fish, crustaceans, insects, etc.
- Aeration of the soil.
Felines you can find in Guatemala
The felines, family Felidae G.Fischer, 1817, are carnivorous mammals with very well-developed senses, especially hearing and sight. They are recognized for being supreme predators and excellent hunters. They have soft fur with colors that help them camouflage, they also have a short muzzle and a long tail.
In Guatemala, besides the domestic cat, there are other 5 felines, which are native.
From genus Leopardus:
- Leopardus pardalis Linnaeus, 1758 – Ocelot
They are the largest feline of this genus with a body weight of up to 16 kg and a length between 65 and 97 cm. The coat on its belly is white and the rest of the body is yellowish or reddish cream with black rosettes. They inhabit tropical forests, savannas and mangroves.
Fresh photos of leaf-nosed bat and blue moth at Yaxha park
Ericka Garcia, student at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, has been at Yaxha for her first week (to stay the entire month of June). She was invited by the FLAAR Mesoamerica team who are doing research at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo in cooperation with the park administrators of IDAEH and CONAP.
Fellow student from UVG, Boris Llamas, is now also present and we will introduce his photographs in the coming weeks.
Ericka was able to locate and photograph a leaf-nosed bat in broad daylight. Leaf-nosed bats are commonly pictured in Classic Mayan art, and especially in hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The blue moth is a beautiful insect that I myself have never seen. It’s great to learn what insects are living in the protected park areas.
Since Ericka will also be doing research at night, she and her team will find creatures that the FLAAR Mesoamerica team has not yet photographed (because we are focused primarily on discovering and documenting (with panorama photographs) the biodiversity of different ecosystems in the extensive park). We are especially interested in river and their shore ecosystems, lakes and the plants along their shores, swamps, bogs, and every ecosystem that is not solid forest (since the forest ecosystems are relatively well documented at Tikal to the east and Belize to the west).
Since there are enough orchids, bromeliads, impressive trees, awesome vine systems, and birds of every size and shape, it helps to stay overnight. Hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero is also a perfect place to watch (and photograph) the sunset. We have seen spider monkeys over the hotel many times and 90% of the nights the howler monkeys serenade you in the trees around the hotel.
The nest design of native birds of Southern Guatemala
The nests are multifunctional structures built by mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects. Its design and location depend on the genus of the species, however, the main function is the same: create an adequate environment for eggs and hatchlings, when they are born.
|Female oriole (Icterus sp.) is the one that builds the nest.
Los Amates, Izabal
Tapirus bairdii, the only Central American Tapir
The Tapiridae family is made up of a single genus, which includes only 5 species, four from the Americas and one from Asia. Their closest relatives are rhinoceroses, followed by donkeys, horses and zebras.
Tapirus bairdii Gill. It is the only tapir that lives in Central America, except in El Salvador. It can weigh up to 300kg and measure 2.60m long. Their fur is dark brown on top and paler on the bottom, with white stripes around their ears and lips. They are herbivores and it is known that they consume the following species: