On the face of a cliff, located deep in the forest of the Himalayas with altitudes of over 2,500, lives the world’s largest type of bees. These bees make honey so sought after, many risk their lives each year just to harvest it.
The Himalayan cliff bees produce a type of psychedelic honey that is selling for up to five times more than ordinary honey. But what exactly makes this honey so precious that the honey harvesters would risk their lives twice a year to collect it?
This honey is sometimes referred to as “mad honey” or “red honey” and is harvested by a tribe of Gurung people who are known as honey hunters. The Gurung people live separately from the rest of the tribe in villages hidden in the forests near the peaks of the Himalayas. The cliff bees build their nests on the face of the cliffs with nests reaching up to 5 feet in diameter holding over 60 kg of honey per nest.
Besides working with an angry swarm of the world’s largest bees, these hunters are also dangling over a cliff on nothing more than a rope made from bamboo while collecting the honey. One wrong move could end their life. Yet once in early spring and once in late fall these people risk their lives to collect the honey because the psychoactive properties are prized for their ability to help with poor sexual performance, diabetes, hypertension and more. If you are searching for substance abuse treatment centers in Raleigh NC for 2017? Call Legacy Freedom today to learn more.
Effects of Himalayan Honey
The healing properties are only found when the honey is taken in small doses. While the initial feeling after taking the honey is an intoxicated and relaxed sensation, it is quite easy to accidentally have too much and it then becomes toxic and, rarely, possibly fatal. When a person overdoses on the honey, the symptoms include hallucinations, dizziness, weakness, nausea, low blood pressure and shock along with a slowed heartbeat and irregularity in heart rhythm and a slow sinus rhythm. The Food and Drug Administration has a web page describing the dangers of mad honey intoxication/rhododendron poisoning and says the symptoms should last no longer than 24 hours.
These Himalayan cliff bees are similar to regular honeybees. The reason the honey affects humans differently is because of the diet of the cliff bees. The bees collect nectar from local rhododendron flowers that contain a poisonous chemical called grayanotoxins. Rhododendrons are widely known as poisonous to humans. The grayanotoxin binds to the sodium channels in your cell walls and causes altered mental states as well as hallucinations.
It is said that the honey harvested in the early spring has a stronger amount of psychoactive properties than the honey harvested in the fall because the rhododendrons are in full bloom then. However, since there is no way to control how much of the graynotoxins the bees pick up, it is impossible to tell how strong the honey will be before tasting it.
History of the Honey
Even though this honey is slowly gaining popularity nationwide, it is not a new discovery. Evidence shows that this honey has been used for its hallucinogenic properties since 401 BC. When Greek soldiers where traveling through modern day Turkey, they indulged in the honey and were temporarily debilitated.
In 67 B.C., King Mithridates’ army left honey out for the Roman enemy to find so that they could easily defeat them while they were under the influence. Being a honey hunter is a tradition for the Gurung tribe. Many of the current hunters had parents and grandparents who hunted for the honey using the same method still used today.
Before setting out to harvest the honey, the tribe of honey hunters performs the traditional offering of a rooster to the earth to ask for protection from the bees and from falling. They also say a prayer.
After the prayer is completed, one of the hunters goes down the face of the cliff on a ladder made of bamboo while another hunter lights leaves and sticks on fire to subdue the bees and smoke them out of the hives. A basket is hoisted down to the hive, the hunter rakes the honey in the bucket with a piece of bamboo carved like a spatula, and the basket is lifted back up.
All the while, angry bees are swarming the hunters and attacking. This sounds like something you would want to do as quickly as possible, but it is actually better to move slowly because it is less startling to the bees. Many times, the hunter doing the harvesting will be completely still on the ladder for minutes at a time, just waiting for the bees to calm down.
Many hunts prove fatal for the hunters. Some fall from the cliff trying to raise the bucket, some fall from the ladder collecting the honey. Once the ladder caught on fire when the hunters were attempting to smoke the bees out of their hives.
After safely collecting the honey and getting off the ladder, the hunters sift through the honey with their bare hands, removing dead bees and honeycombs from the honey so it can be put into bottles and distributed in the community. After a successful hunt, the whole village celebrates and has a feast when the hunters return.
The Gurung tribe takes a spoonful of honey every morning to help with joint pains and an overall mood increase. They do not use it to have a psychedelic experience, just as an overall tool for better health. However, the demand for the mad honey has grown due to the increase of it being used recreationally in places like China and Japan.
While this mad honey isn’t as readily available as some drugs due to its unusual and difficult retrieval method, it is still important to be aware of any new drug that’s on the rise. As mentioned previously, there is a very fine line between the dose being used to help treat an aliment and a dose that turns toxic and can make you sick. It may be better to leave this psychedelic honey to the Gurung Tribe.
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