Monday, April 22, 2013
Nepal is an amazing destination that hides many tradition and culture; from the cultural heritage
to the cliff high end honey hunting expedition nothing beats the adrenaline with the real definition
of adventure. Honey hunting to be precise is collecting wild honey from the hive hanging on a rock
hundreds of meters high where as Honey Hunting in Nepal is an age old tradition in the mountains
of Nepal that the local people celebrate risking their lives. The hives are set up in the rock cliff
approximately 300-400 meters from the ground by the indigenous bees. The locals reach such height
with the help of ladder and ropes with no secured line or safety harness with just the intention of
getting the honey.
Looking back to past, Honey hunting is one of the many activities that have been practiced in the
ancient culture of numerous civilizations. Like such here in Nepal it is one of the most prized tradition
that lives through the cultural heritage of people and tradition. In recent studies, scientists have dated
honey hunting tradition to have been practiced as far as in 13000 BC. In Nepal, honey hunting has been
practiced for thousands of years and is a vital part of a legacy that enriches it in the livelihood of the
Nepal homes the Apis laboriosa, which is considered as the biggest honeybee, these bees construct their
hives on the cliffs of the country’s foothills. They exist only in the Himalayas and build their nests in high
altitudes (from 8,200 to 13,500 ft). The nests can contain as much as 130lbs of honey and interestingly
different types of honey can be found at different altitudes. Himalayan honey bees make spring honey,
red honey, and autumn honey. Red honey, made solely by Himalayan honey bees and found at the
highest altitudes, is the most valuable because of its intoxicating and relaxing qualities. For the access
most of the honey hunter use ropes, ladders and baskets to reach out the honey combs. While doing
so the honey hunters flushes out the bees with smoke by lighting a fire underneath the hives. Generally
Honey harvesting usually takes place twice a year, when honey hunters get together and head into the
Himalayas to take on this massive task. To harvest one colony takes the honey hunters two to three
hours depending on the location of the hive and its size.
Harvesting the honey is a tradition that the men of Nepal have been doing for generations. Gurung
and rai community people are more active in this. They export this honey to other parts of Asia for five
times the price of the other honey. The most popular honey hunting destinations in Nepal are located
in Bhujung, Nai Chi, Pasgaon, Naya Gaun, Ludhi and Dare. It is an amazing sight that astounds tourists at
the speed and courage of the honey hunters, who hang from the cliffs to earn a living, and marvel at the
ancient techniques that are still in used today. The prized honey is considered very enriching to the body
and is thought to have intoxicating properties.
In Nepal the harvest ritual varies from community to community, adapting a definitive tradition of
rituals and customs. Most of these customs starts with a prayer and sacrifice of flowers, fruits, and rice.
Then a fire is lit at the base of the cliff to smoke the bees from their honeycombs. From above, a honey
hunter descends the cliff harnessed to a ladder by ropes. Another person descends down with a secure
the rope and ladder from the top and ferry tools up down as required; the honey hunter fights territorial
bees as he cuts out chunks of honey from the comb.
May be unique and adventurous?, or May be scary? Honey hunting still is a tradition that lives up to its
reputation. Just with simple tools and unique ways of tradition honey hunting in Nepal is a way of life
for the locals who risk their lives every day for the sake of their family. Honey hunting may be a way of
life but it is certainly a unique way of life that is exciting as well as full of tradition.