Honey hunting in Nepal is one of the most adventurous activities. The honey from wild bees is gathered using traditional methods. Since the combs are found clinging to high cliffs , it is impossible to gather honey from the ground. The local people use traditional rope ladders, smoke, and knives. This makes honey hunting even more thrilling.
Laboriosa, the Himalayan giant honeybee, is the largest honeybee in the world. Especially found in the upper hilly and mountainous region of Nepal, tthis large honey bee is called " Bhir Mauri" in the local language which directly translates to cliff bees. These bees got this name according to their habitat. These honey bees are found clinging to the high cliffs. The hives of these bees are bigger than forest bees or household bees.
The Gurungs across many parts of Nepal, especially the Kaski and Lamjung districts, value the traditions of honey hunting as a part of their lifestyle. The honey is collected twice a year during the autumn and spring season. The honey gathered is expensive due to its medicinal and psychedelic properties. In Nepal, there are five honey bee species. Among them, wild cliff bees or giant Himalayan bees (Apis Laboriosa ) make their comb in open spaces like mountain cliffs. It is the largest bee species and forms giant combs. Therefore, people get up to 40 kg of honey from a single comb. Besides rock, these bees also make comb in large tree trunks. Honey obtained from Apis Laboriosa bees has psychedelic effects; therefore, it is renowned worldwide as ‘mad honey. It gives you a pleasant effect when consumed in small doses. Therefore, honey hunting in Nepal is considered a treasure by hunters.
Mainly Gurung and Magar communities of a rural community of mountainous regions perform wild honey hunting in Nepal. Before harvesting honey, local people organize a special ceremony to offer God sheep, flowers, and grains. They perform such rituals believing that God will protect them from any attack and mishappening from honeybees. Every year they climb mountain cliffs to harvest wild honey without any modern tools or protective wear. Therefore only fit and who have the knowledge and technique to climb cliffs are chosen for honey hunting. They climb stiff rocks and mountains using ropes and ladders made of bamboo.
Normally honey hunting is practiced in some mountainous rural communities. But, Ghalegaun (Lamjung), Myagdi, and Ghan Pokhara are some major places. People in these areas are collecting honey and passing their skills from generation to generation. Locals from these areas are making their livelihoods by taking hunting as their profession. Honey hunting is indeed a spectacular activity. But, due to difficult hilly topography only performed in specific seasons of the year. The Rainy and winter seasons are critical periods for bees. Thus, bees consume stored honey for their survival. Also, weather and geography make it difficult to harvest in this season. So, the perfect time for honey hunting in Nepal is during late spring (March-April) and late autumn (September-November). Honey hunting is indeed a spectacular activity. But, due to difficult hilly topography only performed in specific seasons of the year.