Farooq Ahmad, Surendra Raj Joshi and Min Bahadur Gurung
2003 52 pages (A175)
Regular readers of BfD Journal are aware that ICIMOD based in Kathmandu, Nepal is undertaking a long-term project on indigenous honeybees. One very important project objective is to understand more about the honeybee Apis laboriosa and its exploitation by Himalayan communities. Here are the results of a study of Apis laboriosa in Kaski - the District in central Nepal whose main town is the popular tourist destination of Pokhara. Interviews with local honey hunters revealed that 26 cliffs in the District are sites for Apis laboriosa colonies. For each of the sites is given GPS data, number of Apis laboriosa nests, vegetation type, bee flora and other local details. Apis laboriosa is a migratory species and a calendar for the approximate time of year when the bees arrive and depart is shown, as well as the time of hunting of these nests.
This is followed by more information about honey hunting: the methods and equipment used, traditional beliefs, and weight of honey harvested â€“ around three tonnes for this District during the survey. Finally there is discussion of social and economic aspects of the honey hunters, and consideration of honey hunting events as entertainment for tourists. Issues identified by the study and possibly leading to a decline in the populations of Apis laboriosa include: the transfer of ownership of bee cliffs from communities to the Forest Department continued loss of biodiversity and tourism tempting honey hunters to perform outside the usual season. This text is elegantly presented, and raises important issues on which the project is continuing with further research.