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June 8, 2020

Honey hunting no more festive and romancing

Kathmandu: Honey hunting which attracted a lot of tourists to visit the local villages is reported to be no more festive and romancing.

Collecting beehive from the high cliff was a traditional occupation of the indigenous community and it was slowly turning into festival of the community.

The daring act of going up and cutting the edges of beehive by hanging from a rope ladder was considered as one of the fun for the local people as well as tourists.

This act of honey hunting had become a popular myth and legacy among the people when few foreigners also published famous books on “Honey Hunters….”.

honey huntingHoney hunting had paved the way for many a tourists to reach the rural villages. Video documentation regarding honey hunting was also popular among the tourists for some time.

It had become a good tourism commodity for the tour agencies who could arrange tours to these local villages where honey hunting is treated with great festivity. It was also a good alternative source of income for the villagers.

But the tourism which has been hard hit by Covid-19 has also adversely affected honey hunting sporting activity. So, the indigenous groups of Magars and Gurungs who are usually engaged in the act of honey hunting in the remote hilly villages did engage in honey hunting this year but it remained secluded act of villagers alone without the participation of outsiders such as other Nepalese and foreigners.

honey huntingFor example the Magars of Tarakhola in Baglung district each year go for honey hunting in a festive manner as this is their traditional occupation. This year too they did gather honey from the cliffs, yet it was no so festive as it used to be in the previous year according to rastriya samachar samittee correspondent Taranath Sharma.

Prakash Gharty who is chairman of rural municipality said the villagers are collecting honey by maintaining the social distance while going up the cliff.

The villagers risk their lives to collect the honey by reaching a height of 500 meters high cliffs by hanging on a laddar made of rope.

In Tarakhola the climbers for honey hunting usually take the support of a ladder made up cane skin. The honey hunters wear thick clothes, wear hand gloves and a mask to ward off the stings of the bees and then make fire under the bee hive to drive away the bees and collect it.

There are at least 16 beehives in this Tarakhola which are hunted by the honey hunters every year. The hunters must be clean and chaste before making fire to climb up which is a tradition here. The number of days to hunt honey is fixed upon finding the number of beehives in the cliffs.

Honey hunters of Gurja

A local person named Mahendra Gharti says five days were taken to collect the honey from the cliff in Ratakhola area. People gather during the honey hunting process and divide the honey after collecting it from the cliff. So they don’t do any business of the honey they get.

Honey is used in medicines too. Bees suck the nectar of various types of herbal plants found in the jungles. It gives direct power and resists foreign bodies. Cliff honey costs at least 1500 rupees per litter in the village while it may be costlier outside the district.

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