History of beekeeping in Brazil began in the 1830s, with the first honey bees imported from Europe (Apis mellifera mellifera) by immigrants from the Old World. This is the same honey bee that was introduced into the U.S., often called the German or black bee. Like most other places in the New World, introductions of Carniolan (Apis mellifera carnica) and Italian (Apis mellifera ligustica) soon followed. Beekeeping at the time was sedentary and not of great importance, being mostly a religious activity (for the beeswax to make candles) and/or a hobby. Honey production was less than 400 tons per year.
In 1956, Dr. Warwick Kerr introduced African honey bees to Brazil. Originally identified as Apis mellifera adansonii, they have been since renamed to Apis mellifera scutellata. Either way they have characteristics different than European bees, especially when it comes to defensive behavior. The story is well known about the bees’ escape into the wild, where they became well established as a poly-hybrid with mostly African characteristics and behavior.
The year 1970 was a seminal one with the first Brazilian Beekeeping Congress in Florianópolis. Since then, slowly but surely over the years, beekeeping has come back rather like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The next twenty year period would see an explosion of both scientific and beekeeping activity towards understanding the Africanized bee as it became an established part on the Brazilian landscape.
Again, most of this recent beekeeping activity is based on the Africanized honey bee, according to Dr. Gonçalves. Brazilians have come to prefer this bee due to its capacity to adapt to many of the ecosytems found in the country and its inherent tolerance to parasites and diseases. It continues to confound many elsewhere and delight Brazilians that the Varroa mited (Varroa destructor), although universally present, does not result in wholesale deaths of colonies. As a result there is no need to chemically treat colonies. Honey contamination by producers is not yet a threat in Brazil ,Brazil and Argentina, continue to have their honey sales restricted (banned in some countries) due to contamination .
An article in the Natal newspaper says the number of beekeepers in the state of Rio Grande do Norte has increased by a factor of six in the last two years. Over a million kilograms (1,100 tons) of honey left the port of Natal in 2003, bound mostly for Germany. The article says a “beekeeping boom” began in 2000, and one company, Mel Brasil Tropical, will export about 1.5 million kilograms (1,700 tons) in 2004. Brazil is also a leader in many other bee products besides honey.
“From Various Internet Sites”