GREEN

A Raw Look Inside The Life Of A Nepalese Honey Hunter (PHOTOS)

03/11/2014 12:14 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2014

High in the Himalayas, an ancient honey hunt harkens back to a time before industrialized bee farms, pollination woes and colony collapse disorder.

Photographer Andrew Newey spent two weeks living among the Gurung people near Nepal's Annapurna mountain range, documenting a sacred tradition of honey collection that dates back to 11,000 B.C. His photos reflect a disappearing tradition as climate change and tourism make each year of hunting that much harder. Newey told The Huffington Post:

I had known about honey hunting in Nepal for some time but after learning of the numerous threats to this ancient tradition ... I spent two weeks living with them in a remote hilltop village in central Nepal’s Kaski district, including the three day autumn honey hunt which was six weeks later than normal due to a changing climate and reduced bee population. The Himalayan cliff bee is essential for the pollination of high altitude plants and their rapidly decreasing population puts these ecosystems in jeopardy, threatening the food base for the entire region.

Take a look at some of Newey's photos below, and follow him on Twitter @AndrewNewey.

  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • Using precision and skills mastered over many years the ‘cutter’ jousts tentatively at a bee’s nest with a sharpened stick known as a tango.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • Most of the nests are located on steep inaccessible, south-west facing cliffs to avoid predators and for increased exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • The honey hunting cutter, or ‘kuiche,’ watches intently as the rope ladder is re-positioned by the men perched in a tree overhanging the top of the cliff.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • Once the bees have been smoked out of their nest the honey hunter is able to cut the exposed honeycomb away from the cliff face.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • As the honey hunter descends the rope ladder, the blood, blisters and bee stings that are synonymous with this treacherous tradition become visible.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • Using one of the bamboo poles known as a tango to push the basket hanging beside him up against the cliff face, the cutter catches the honeycomb as it falls before the basket is then lowered to the ground.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • One of the Gurung men watches from the base of the cliff as the cutter repositions himself on the rope ladder 200ft above.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • A young boy from the nearby village feasts on a piece of freshly cut honeycomb that has fallen to the ground.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • Before a hunt can commence the honey hunters are required to perform a ceremony to placate the cliff gods. This involves sacrificing a sheep, offering flowers, fruits and rice, and praying to the cliff gods to ensure a safe hunt.
  • Andrew Newey / andrewnewey.com
  • The honey hunter clings precariously to the rope ladder while he waits for the rising smoke to drive the bees out of the nests.

Also on HuffPost:

Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS