Beeworks is a Greenworks-sponsored project focusing on tropical stingless bee and agroecology education in the Vale do Ribeira region of São Paulo state, Brazil.


Map inset with São Paulo state outlined thickly, the Vale do Ribeiro region in the south outlined an shaded in green, with a red line from Campinas in the central part of the state down to Guapiruvu in the Vale do Ribeira region starred.  Additional important cities for the project are highlighted, including Sete Barras directly to the east of Guapiruvu and Iguape and Cananéia to the south on the coast.

Where is Vale do Ribeira?

Vale do Ribeira is located in the southern part of São Paulo state and extends into the nearby state of Paraná, Brazil, and encompasses the area around the Ribeiro de Iguape River.  It is among the poorest and least developed parts of the state and is home to 21% of what remains of the Atlantic Forest, an astounding tropical rain forest ecosystem.

We work with the agroforestry community of Guapiruvu, which is about six hours away from where our academic partners live and work at Universidade Estadula de Campinas (UNICAMP).  Experts and resources are recruited from the towns of Sete Barras, Iguape, and Cananéia.

Who Lives There?

A drone-eye view of a group of kids surrounding two men who are piloting a drone

Vale do Ribeira is home to a mixture of populations, including indigenous, quilombola (descendants of escaped slaves), caiçara (coastal mixtures of indigenous, African, and European peoples), and immigrant communities.  People here subsist primarily on agriculture, fishing, and ecotourism.

What are We Doing?

A group of Brazilian kids, adults, and elders surround a teacher who is showing the inside of a small wooden box, where tropical bees are housed.

We are working to support and improve education in agroecological topics, primarily tropical stingless bees, which are critically important to the ecological health of the region.  This is part of a larger project to sustainably develop the region through agroecology.

What are Tropical Stingless Bees?

Tropical stingless (or native) bees consist of hundreds of species of bees with reduced or nonexistent stingers which live all across the topics.  They can be as tiny as a fruit fly or as big as a honey bee.  Because they do not sting, they are great for teaching and keeping around the yard as low-maintenance pets.  Although they don’t sting, some do bite (although it is not usually painful).

Tropical stingless bees produce honey and fermented pollen, both of which are stored in pots (as opposed to honeycombs).  The honey takes on a variety of flavors and is runnier than honey bee honey because it contains less sugar.  Honey is extracted from the pots via pipettes.  They also produce wax and propolis.  Tropical native bees are raised in meliponarios (as opposed to apiaries).  In Guapiruvu, they are an important component of agroecology, since they pollinate the juçara palm which is threatened by illegal harvesting.

1) A meliponario at AirbnBee in Barão Geraldo, Brazil, near UNICAMP; 2) Bugia bees feeding on sugar water at a trough feeder; 3) Jataí bees hovering near the tube entrance to their hive; 4) Inside of a jataí hive, showing the egg disk and surrounding pots filled with honey and pollen (they are stored separately); 5) Inside of a bugia hive, showing a similar structure; 6) Bees maintaining the entrance to their hive; 7) Bees working on producing honey; 8) Building a meliponario in Guapiruvu (this one stores all the hives under the same structure) [photos by Lev Horodyskyj and Roberto Greco]

Latest Updates

June 2024

  • Deivy, Diego, and Sebastián (joining Greenworks for a few months through the Blue Marble Institute of Science Young Scientist Program) began working on an exchange website to support the broader Greenworks program, with a special focus on building sensors for beehives.

May 2024

  • Roberto and Gilberto traveled with members of the Guapiruvu community to nearby Cananéia to observe beehive maintenance techniques and talk with local experts.
  • Roberto, Lev, and Arcanjo (Roberto’s PhD student) visited Guapiruvu to help guide kids on a trek through the nearby Parque Intervales.  This is part of a continuing UNICAMP project to help kids build a connection with nature.

April 2024

  • Beeworks has officially started.  We’ll be working with Dr. Roberto Greco at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) and community leader Gilberto of the Guapiruvu agroforestry community.  Bruno at Cooperativa Para A Bioeconomia (COOBIO) will be managing the funds of the grant.


Roberto Greco

Roberto Greco

Project Lead




Community Leader


Bruno Gianez

Bruno Gianez

Financial Coordinator