The Honey Hunters of Nepal

‘Honey Hunters” is the first place awarded photo story in World Press captured by Eric Valli, a photographer and author of the most popular photo books, including “The Hidden Land (Aperture)” and “Hachette Realities”. This inspiring photo story is about the biggest honeybee in the world and cultural honey harvesting tradition of Nepal villagers.

Taking place twice a year since 13 000 BC, honey harvesting is a difficult mission, which can only be completed in alliance of villagers of Nepal, also known as Honey Hunters. An exciting journey to Apis laboriosa, the biggest honeybee in the world is a subsistence for some of the local people in Himalayas.

It is a beautiful tradition of Nepali culture, which continues throughout generations , nevertheless, it is an extremely dangerous and risky task to do. The hunters climb honey nests using only bamboo ladders and hemp ropes in face of threatening chasms down the Himalayan steeps at height of up to 300 meters. Technique from deep past points out lighting a fire under the hives in order to smoke out the bees and then to empty those nests.

Whole operation takes around 3 hours to finish. Unfortunately, the supplies of bee honey are drying out as less and less honey is collected every year. Despite that, this exciting tradition is beloved by tourists and is a breathtaking sight to watch.

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All credits go to Eric Valli, check out his website for lots of other great photographs.