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Nepal is very rich in honeybee diversity. There are at least five different honeybee species in the country. A large quantity of honey and beeswax is being produced from indigenous honeybees (mainly Apis dorsata and Apis laboriosa). These bee species play a vital role in pollinating mountain crops and wild flora. Honey is a source of nutrition, medicine and cash income for the Himalayan farmers.

In order to initiate honey retrieving, honey hunters use the basic method of lighting fire under the bee cliffs. At the base of the rock a fire is made from wood and foliage, so that the smoke rise to disperse the bees upwards from the lower edges of their combs, leaving the brood and honey sections of the combs clearly visible. Then, a group of about a dozen men with ropes, ladders, poles, baskets and pots proceed to the cliff. A ladder is suspended from the top of the cliff and tightly secured to trees at both upper and lower ends.

After that, honey hunter is fastened to the ladder by a rope and descends the rope ladder while others at the top of the cliff make sure that the rope is held securely. Two to three persons are responsible for checking, raising and lowering the rope to send items down from above and pull items up from the floor as necessary. One person, who perches on overhanging tree, looks the event carefully and gives signals to others. Near the ladder, a large woven collecting basket is lowered to the nest site through another rope.

When the honey hunter gets near the nest to be harvested, he uses a long stick to balance the collecting basket exactly under the comb. Its base is guided by a rope held by the people at the base of the cliff. First, the brood portion of the comb is separated. The honey hunter uses a bamboo stick to pierce a hole in the brood comb area of the colony to be harvested. By piercing the comb and attaching hook to the comb, honey hunter cuts the brood portion of the comb safely. After that, wooden or iron sickles fixed to the bamboo stick cut honeycombs. Basket is guided to catch the chunks of honey as they drop down.

When full, the basket is lowered down to the ground, emptied and used again. The whole operation from start to finish is very delicate. It may take 2-3 hours or more just to harvest one of the many colonies.


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  • Nepal-Philippines Chamber of Commerce Industry
    Address: Consulate of the Republic of the Philippines, VOITH Complex
    Anandanagar,Dhumbarahi,Ward No.4,Kathmandu,Nepal
    P.O. Box: 2640
    Telephone: +977 (1) 4008801-805
    Email:- npcciphilippines@gmail.com