Honey Hunting is a very ancient practice of mountain people specially Gurung, Rai, Chantyal Community. The main area of harvesting Honey Hunting is the mountain region of Nepal like Kaski, Lamjung, Myagdi, Baglung, Rukum in the western area of Nepal as practices in the eastern belt of Nepal.
Apis Laboriosa Dorsata is one of the biggest honey bees which nested in the high cliff of the mountain. These bee species play a vital role in pollinating mountain crops and wild flora.
The Himalayan cliff honey collected by Apislaboriosa bee during the spring season from white rhododendron, Bikh (Aconitum spp.), Pangra (Entada scanders), and Niramasi is considered intoxicated. Hallucinogenic honey /Intoxicating honey is known for its medicinal value and relaxing properties.
Equipment Necessary for Honey Hunting.
Made from bamboo fiber, 70 meters long (depending upon the height of cliff), and 2 cm in diameter. The steps are made of wooden planks
A kind of rope used for tightening the ladder to the tree trunk on the top of the cliff. It is made of bamboo fiber. Its length ranges from 5-10 meters depending upon the distance between the tree trunk and the cliff
It is also a kind of rope used for hanging bamboo baskets. It is made of Allo (Girardia diversifolia) fiber. Its length ranges between 50 – 70 meters
Korko/Tokari (Bamboo basket)
It is used for honey collection and is made of bamboo strips with the holding capacity of 20 liters
Chhyakal/Khaal (Basket lining)
Earlier lamb’s skin was used in the basket to prevent honey from leakage but plastic sheets are being used these days
A bamboo stick fixed with a sickle or wooden plate at one end, which is used for cutting combs during honey hunting. It is about 7 meters long depending upon the horizontal distance between nest and cliff end
A bamboo stick similar to Tango but with notched end to fix the hook. It is also 7 meters long
Koili chho (Rope with hook)
A rope fixed with hook and made of locally available fiber materials. It is around 14 meters long and used for separating the brood portion from the honeycomb
Koho chho (Fastening belt)
A rope used for fastening honey hunter to ladder for safety. It is made of local fiber materials
It is made of the bamboo cortex for filtering honey
Donga (Wax pot)
It is made of wood and used for wax collection
It’s a rope being used to balance ladder by tightening in different points and positions
A rope made from bamboo fibers and used for manipulating ladder’s direction and positioning from the ground
Dabilo (Wooden knife)
Wooden or iron knife fixed to the one end of the bamboo stick used for cutting brood combs.
Images – Eric Tourneret , David Caprara