Habitat for Mayan stingless bees.
Being tropical, stingless bees are active all year round, although they are less active in cooler weather, with some species presentingdiapause. Unlike other eusocial bees, they do not sting but will defend by biting if their nest is disturbed. In addition, a few (in the genus Oxytrigona) have mandibular secretions that cause painful blisters. Despite their lack of a sting, stingless bees, being eusocial, may have very large colonies made formidable by the number of defenders.
Stingless bees usually nest in hollow trunks, tree branches, underground cavities, or rock crevices but they have also been encountered in wall cavities, old rubbish bins, water meters, and storage drums. Many beekeepers keep the bees in their original loghive or transfer them to a wooden box, as this makes it easier to control the hive.
The bees store pollen and honey in large egg-shaped pots made of beeswax, typically mixed with various types of plant resin (sometimes called “propolis”). These pots are often arranged around a central set of horizontal brood combs, where the larval bees are housed. When the young worker bees emerge from their cells, they tend to remain inside the hive, performing different jobs. As workers age, they become guards or foragers. Unlike the larvae of honey bees, meliponine larvae are not fed directly. The pollen and nectar are placed in a cell, an egg is laid, and the cell is sealed until the adult bee emerges after pupation (“mass provisioning”). At any one time, hives can contain 300–80,000 workers, depending on species.
Hoping to see some of these in Mexico this week. Here I come, traipsing through the rainforest, looking in every hollow log. Nothing bad outcomes possible, right?
The Mayans thought these bees to be Gods.
More from Wikipedia:
Native meliponines (Melipona beecheii being the favorite) have been kept by the lowland Maya for thousands of years. The traditional Mayan name for this bee is Xunan kab, literally meaning “(royal, noble) lady bee”.  The bees were once the subject of religious ceremonies and were a symbol of the bee-god Ah-Muzen-Cab, who is known from the Madrid Codex.
The bees were, and still are, treated as pets. Families would have one or many log-hives hanging in and around their house. Although they are stingless, the bees do bite and can leave welts similar to a mosquito bite. The traditional way to gather bees, still favored among the locals, is find a wild hive; then the branch is cut around the hive to create a portable log, enclosing the colony. This log is then capped on both ends with another piece of wood or pottery and sealed with mud. This clever method keeps the melipine bees from mixing their brood, pollen, and honey in the same comb as the European bees. The brood is kept in the middle of the hive, and the honey is stored in vertical “pots” on the outer edges of the hive. A temporary, replaceable cap at the end of the log allows for easy access to the honey while doing minimal damage to the hive. However, inexperienced handlers can still do irreversible damage to a hive, causing the hive to swarm and abscond from the log. On the other hand, with proper maintenance, hives have been recorded as lasting over 80 years, being passed down through generations. In the archaeological record of Mesoamerica, stone discs have been found that are generally considered to be the caps of long-disintegrated logs that once housed the beehives.
How do I get one of these through airport security for my return trip?