Features of Himalayan bees and their honey

Of the 21 thousand species of bees existing in the world, there are huge insects that make "crazy" honey. They live in the Himalayas. This article will tell you what kind of bees are and what is the peculiarity of their honey.

Himalayan bees: description of features and characteristics

The habitat of these bees is mainly Nepal. Most of the territory of this country is occupied by the Himalayan mountains. There are various climatic zones, which leads to a rich ecosystem. The territory of Nepal is divided into several parts that differ in different environmental conditions:

  • Terai - foothills (height above sea level no more than 1 km), a zone of tropical rainforests;
  • Sivalik is the lower level of the Himalayan mountains (1000–2000 m), where the tropics turn into a temperate climate;
  • medium and high mountains — a moderately cool mountainous area at an altitude of more than 2 km above sea level;
  • high Himalayas (4 km and above) with a characteristic harsh climate.

The first three zones are covered with lushly flowering vegetation corresponding to the climate. About 7 thousand flowering plants are registered here, so it is not surprising that honey bees live in this mountainous area, which sometimes overcome a height of 3 thousand km.

Features of Nepalese bees:

  • large body sizes (up to 3 cm in length);
  • locate their hives on tall trees and rocks;
  • build houses for themselves from only one cell, but very large (up to 1.5 m in diameter);
  • to protect honeycombs with valuable honey, insects build a solid wall of their own bodies;
  • Some types of honey can cause hallucinations and even death.

Important! Himalayan honey is poisonous only in spring when rhododendrons bloom. In the fall, it is completely safe.

Types of Himalayan Bees

Honey bees (Apis) in the Himalayas are represented by 4 native species:

  • florea;
  • cerana;
  • dorsata;
  • laboriosa.

Each variety occupies a certain territory. They differ from each other in size, color, construction of honeycombs, as well as the amount of honey and its composition:

  1. Apis florea is called a dwarf bee for its small size. It lives on the territory of Terai and does not fly into the mountains above 1 km. These small builders build one honeycomb, wrapping it around a tree branch. The diameter of such a structure does not exceed 25 cm. Only about 1 kg of honey is collected in it for the whole year. But the benefit of these toilers is that they pollinate fruit trees in a quality manner.

  2. Apis cerana (eastern bee) has the usual sizes. It can be found at different heights, even up to 3.5 thousand km. Bee families survive at a temperature of -0.1 ° C. They are distinguished by their peaceful nature and often build their deck-like hives next to people. Although they do not give much honey (about 5 kg per year), it is Apis cerana that people use for home beekeeping.

  3. Apis dorsata is called the queen bee. This is a giant bee, whose body length reaches 3 cm. The abdomen is painted yellow-black. Their habitat is not very high (190–1200 m). Each family builds one hundredth large cell: height - 80-150 cm, width - 100-160 cm. One nest with its contents (honey, larvae, pollen and working bees) can weigh about 20 kg. Apis dorsata is a migratory species. In summer, they rise higher and settle on tall trees and rocks. And in winter they go down to the Terai lowlands, where the temperature does not fall below + 10 ° С. In winter, insects are grouped into 40-100 families and occupy a niche or corner of a building for their colony.

  4. Apis laboriosa is the largest rocky honey bee. Outwardly, it does not look like a bee at all: size, like dorsata, 2.5–3 cm, black with white stripes on the abdomen. They inhabit higher levels of the foot of the Himalayas: 850–3500 m above sea level. Laboriosa also live on a migration schedule. In summer, they climb high into the mountains. Sometimes they are met at an altitude of 4 thousand meters. They build hanging nests on high cliffs and cave arches. Here they swarm, make honey and stack it in the corner of a huge honeycomb (1 m in length and width). So in a year they can process 50-60 kg of honey. In winter, they descend to a height of 1–1.5 thousand km. For wintering, the family chooses a tree branch on which it forms a living nest resembling a bunch, clinging to each other. They do not bother with the construction of honeycombs, but reduce activity to zero, so as not to waste energy. In the spring they rise to a height again and collect nectar. The honey obtained by Apis laboriosa is also called "insane."

What is the peculiarity of Himalayan honey

Crazy or red honey cannot be bought at a store or pharmacy. This is a very rare product that only wild Apis laboriosa make. It is very difficult to get it, therefore its cost is high. The sweet composition owes its unique composition and special properties to various plants blooming in the Himalayas, the nectar of which is collected by black bees.

For example: buckwheat, black mustard, bassia venicum, eupatorium odoratum, field brassica. But the nectar of some species of rhododendron (Rhododendron luteum, Rhododendron ponticum, etc.) makes red honey special. These shrubs attract insects with their bright yellow and pink-red flowers.

Important! Prolonged abuse of a sweet drug leads to death.

They are only accessible flying high in the mountains of Apis laboriosa. Nectar and pollen of these plants contain andromedotoxins, toxic substances. When raw materials are processed by bees into honey, these substances do not disappear anywhere and make the honey product “crazy”. Thanks to the secret ingredient, Himalayan honey is used for medicinal purposes.

  • In small quantities, it is a medicine for the treatment of the following disorders:
  • diabetes;
  • high blood pressure;
  • weak immunity;
  • excessive fatigue;
  • violation of sexual functions.

Having eaten quite a bit of red sweetness, a person feels euphoria, which is accompanied by a slight intoxication, dizziness and pleasant relaxation, as when using drugs.

  • But exceeding the dose of honey medication gives side effects and complications:
  • hallucinations;
  • severe nausea and vomiting;
  • sudden drop in blood pressure;
  • severe slowing of the pulse;
  • lips go numb;
  • muscles become very weak, so that a person is immobilized.

How is honey extraction

Although modern beekeeping is already quite developed in Nepal, some ethnic groups are still traditionally engaged in extreme beekeeping or hunting for red honey. This is the main work of men in these tribes. They sell the extracted sweet liquid to rich people and tourists who want to see and try everything, and so provide their families.

You will be interested to know about honey of wild bees.

The hunt is carried out in spring and autumn, when black bees swarm. Entire families are involved in this business. Children learn the craft from an early age, first simply collecting aromatic herbs, then making a fire from them to smoke insects from the nest.

Having tracked the nesting site of the bee colony, the whole family or only the male team set off on a journey that can stretch for several tens of kilometers. One person can not cope in any way, since you have to carry a lot of heavy luggage: homemade climbing equipment, large bamboo baskets filled on the way back with wax honeycombs. In addition, help is needed in securing the equipment on the rocks.

Honey production takes place in the following sequence:

  1. Having found a rock with which huge bee honeycombs hang, hunters make a fire under it from the strongly smelling herbs collected along the way. Smoke must smoke bees from their home.
  2. When the angry bees become smaller, and their attacks are no longer so intense, the hunter with his face covered with a protective net climbs the rope ladder fixed on the rock. In his hands he holds a basket and two poles.
  3. Once opposite the nest, with the help of one pole it holds the basket directly under the honeycomb, and with the help of a stick with a sharp tip it cuts off that part of it that is filled with honey. It also cuts empty cells, as wax is also appreciated.
  4. Now, already with a full basket, the man carefully gets down.
  5. The women and children below collect pieces of fallen honeycombs.

Read also about bee longevity.

Getting Himalayan honey is a very dangerous job. Not because of bee stings, from which the mosquito net does not protect, no one pays attention to them. Nests hang on high cliffs, and improvised climbing equipment is not very reliable. Tearing down, hunters more than once perished, breaking on the rocks.

Himalayan Honey Tips

Professional hunters for the sweet product of giant bees recommend eating no more than 2 tablespoons at a time. It is this dose that is not dangerous to human health, but provides a feeling of euphoria. A larger portion necessarily leads to unpleasant consequences: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, in some cases - death. Those who already have health problems (for example, hypertension) are contraindicated even the minimum dose of "crazy" sweetness.

Himalayan bees are interesting insects living in the rocks and making such a unique honey. But cutting down the rhododendrons and the immoderate ruin of their nests leaves them without food. If people do not change their attitude, the bee species is threatened with extinction.

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