Beekeeping in the Central Valleys
In our headquarter village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Del Maguey helps support the local ecology of flowering plants, including a wide spectrum of wild agave, through beekeeping.
In 2017, Jose Mendoza Martinez and Elvia Del Refugio Vasquez Zalvidar were passing the Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal headquarters in Teotitlan del Valle one afternoon with their beekeeping kit and they ran into Ron Cooper who had just encountered a bee issue in the bodega.
He invited them into the courtyard where they were both struck by Ron’s fearlessness approaching the bees. They helped move the bees to a new location that day and shortly thereafter, started assisting Del Maguey with beekeeping and reforestation projects.
Jose is a naturalist, beekeeper in Oaxaca. He built and runs the Del Maguey agave nursery in Teotitlan del Valle and has a vast knowledge of Oaxacan anthropology and ethnobotany within its mountains and valleys.
Elvia is a master beekeeper, and a professor of eco-forestry at a local university, (CECFOR 2).
As beekeepers, Jose and Elvia take an artisanal approach to their craft. Honey yields in the arid Central Valleys of Oaxaca are much lower than tropical climates, but the flavors and crystallization that they harvest from their beehives is unique to each place, a single village honey.
Aside from that, their tools and kit are simple; masks, gloves, long sleeved shirts, and pants, to go along with a smoker and a hive tool that pries open frames and scrapes away beeswax.
In the Central Valleys, there is generally only one honey harvest per year, around October and November.
If a family or a farmer has a bee issue, just like they helped with Ron, Elvia and Jose will go to someone’s house or field and safely collect the bees for removal and transport them to a safer location.
One of Elvia’s main adages is to try not and hurt a single bee when inspecting the hives or extracting honey.
It makes for a symbiotic approach toward their craft.
In addition to supporting the local ecology, a percentage of the harvested honey in Teotitlan del Valle goes towards Del Maguey’s Visitor program.
As a result, groups from around the world who participate in our program, run by Misty Kalkofen, along with Del Maguey’s US ambassador team and EU manager Romain Llobet, they receive a small sample as a living reminder of our commitment to sustainability. Plus it tastes great!
Apiculture Program Development in Single Villages
We are grateful to announce that two families, in the villages of Santo Domingo Albarradas and Santa Catarina Minas have also decided to participate in this meaningful project with Elvia and Jose.
We are excited to bring the beehives, kits, and bees to these villages. At first, the honey harvest is only expected to be for the families use as a refined sugar substitute but over time as beehives are added, visiting friends will have an opportunity to support the villages and cocktail enthusiasts will have a chance to use the distinct flavors of Oaxacan honey in their drink recipes.