Sunday, August 1, 2010

Honey Hunting- tradition

The Story

Wild colonies are located in the forest and cliffs by the tribals. A group of 6-8 people go for honey collection, camping in the forest for a few days. They carry tins, knife, matchbox with them. Bamboo baskets and rope ladders with forest vines are made in the forest.
The rope ladder and the basket are lowered from the top of the cliff and a smoker made under the cliff to smoke the bees away. The rope ladder is tied to a tree on top of the cliff, guarded by another member, usually the main hunter’s brother-in-law. He goes down the ladder, and swings to reach the comb. Then, the brood portion of the comb, which is sometimes collected by members standing below. The honeycomb is collected in the basket and pulled up. The combs are crushed to collect honey and beeswax. Young brood is eaten with honey.

Traditions of using deer and goat skin instead of the bamboo basket are still prevalent. Social beliefs and customs are strictly followed by tribals:

*The brother-in-law of the honey-hunter guards the ladder, as he would protect it better. In case of any mishap, his sister would become a widow.

*Bee songs are sung in praise of the bees and forest vines.

*From the first colony harvested, pieces of the comb are thrown in three directions as an offering.

*Identified combs are marked with tobacco and often 'mantras' are chanted to prevent other people from harvesting it.

Honey once collected, was sold to local traders, Forest Departments, co-operative societies or middlemen. the returns to the honeyhunter were sometimes very low. In many areas, beeswax was not collected

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