It turns out honey hunting is quite a bit more dangerous then you would think, but it’s not because of the bees. Honey hunting happens all over the world, from Africa, Asia, to South America and Australia. The honey hunting that seemed to me the most interesting and that has the most information available takes place in the High Himalayas of Nepal.
The honey hunters in Nepal not only have to worry about the bees but also where the bees are. The Himalayan honey bee Apis laboriosa builds it’s hive far far above the ground in the cliff sides of the mountains. The honey hunters have to climb down the mountain and attach their rope latter along the side of the cliff. In the article I read it seems like the cliff clams the majority of honey hunters, and that the hunters method of smoking the nest underneath the cliff is normally effective. This of course doesn’t stop all the bees and the hunters have gotten stung so much they are almost accustoming to it. To gather the honey and comb from the hive the hunters will clime the rope latter and pick at the nest with a long stick. Sometimes held up by the foot of the hunter a basket will be directly below the hive and all of the chunks of hive beaten off of the nest will fall in. Because of the rather difficult circumstances and the size of the honey hives the hunters will only take a fraction of the hive so that they can come back at a latter date. The honey hunters also give the bees a resting time once a week because of their reverence for the bees. They see honey hunting as both a physical and mental experience that must be preserved at all costs. They’re almost like a knight slaying a dragon. They have reverence for the dragon because of its strength and stuff, but also slay it for great reward and fame.
Honey hunting is truly an amazing activity that holds to the saying where there is danger comes great reward. I love the idea that honey hunters themselves give off the feeling that they are of the past and carry on this intruding practice that almost seems like it would come out of a legend. “The Honey Hunters of Old”, I should write a book about it or something.