Cuban beekeeper produces sweet honey of stingless bees

HAVANA (Reuters) - Dairon Darias, a Cuban ballet dancer, has an unusual hobby when it comes time to unwind following the strict discipline of dance - raising melipona bees, a stingless Cuban variety that produces smooth and exquisite honey.

Darias is one of relatively few breeders of the native species on the Caribbean island. He sells the honey he produces as "Mieles de la Tierra," or "Honey from the Earth."

Stingless bees in Cuba do not produce honeycomb, and instead are kept in simple boxes or even rustic, hollowed-out logs. They tend to pollinate native species of plants, a key ecological niche that lends their honey a distinct flavor.

"We help the bees and they help us," explains Darias.

(Reporting by Annet Ríos, Carlos Carrillo y Alien Fernández, writing by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)