A mystery is solved for me today: the "flies" on my rice paper plant flowers are the wild native bees that make honey! The ancients of the Americas hunted for the honey of the stingless, domestic-fly-size bees, Trigonae and Meliponoae, for example, to sweeten their cocoa drinks long before the arrival of Columbus.
In "Evidence of cacao use in the Prehispanic American Southwest," Patricia Crown and Jeffrey Hurst report finding theobromine* (a biomarker for cacao, also known as xantheose) in fragments of tall ceramic mugs from Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA. The residents of the apartments there, who drew petrogliffs like these on tuff rocks - - photo courtesy of a colleague - - also roasted cocoa beans from Mesoamerica for ritual drinking.
I learned to roast my coffee beans from my mother's mother so I have been interested in cocoa beans for a similar use. Perhaps we can soon enjoy a cup of hot chocolate from scratch with a sprinkle of wild hot chili powder and a dash of honey of the wild native bees.
"Wooden sticks with loops" at one end were used about a millennium ago by those earlier people of Chaco Canyon while making their drinks. One thing to note, however, the wild honey of the Americas is found to be less viscous and more aromatic than the honey made by the imported variety, Apis Mellifica.
Maybe I should hunt for some honey combs in trees all around here. Who knew my tropical plants would attract tropical bees! And the American honey has a new meaning now.
* methylxanthines theobromine (3,7-dimethylxanthine) or 3,7-dimethyl-2,3,6,7-tetrahydro-1H-purine-2,6-dione (C7H8N4O2)
Note: Remember theobromine poisoning -- or chocolote poisoning -- as an adverse reaction to theobromine in chocolote, cocoa, tea, acai berries, cola drinks, and other foods. The problem is serious for animals like dogs, cats, horses, parrots because their metabolic rates are very low for theobromine. The half-life in dogs as an example is 17.5 hr.