Beekeeping, with its myriad health benefits attributed to honey, has been a revered horticultural practice for millennia. Despite facing an uncertain future, bees are being offered environments by astute businessmen that provide them with a fighting chance for survival, and perhaps even the opportunity to flourish.
The methods employed in honey production, including crop spraying, hive movement, frequent hive inspections, artificial insemination of queens, routine medication, and sugar water feeding, are considered by some to be unnatural..
There’s no denying that many of us look forward to honey from our hives. However, there’s another valuable perspective in natural beekeeping: the act of keeping bumblebees itself is rewarding, and the honey production aspect becomes secondary.
The primary focus isn’t solely on honey production. Contemporary beekeeping methods often rely on chemical treatments to combat diseases and parasites, inadvertently fostering stronger strains of these pests and diseases. Consequently, this approach leads to the cultivation of super-pests and diseases, while the bees themselves become reliant on chemical interventions rather than naturally developing their survival strategies. This phenomenon also has repercussions on the quality of honey produced.
The approach is distinct when it comes to obtaining raw mad honey. This unique honey is derived from the natural beekeeping process, devoid of human intervention. Wild bees acclimate themselves to their natural habitat, navigating cliffs to access water during winter and migrating between different altitudes for rest, resulting in a distinctive and unadulterated product.
Bees are left on their own to forage and form honey as per their convenience. No human force is implied to derive honey as per their wants and needs.
The hunters do not use any chemical treatments to thrive maximum honey at the required time. As per the experts and honey hunters, the harvesting process is necessary for maintaining the ecosystem.
The honey is harvested only twice a year, following the lunar calendar, as a means of preserving the well-being of the bees. This limited harvest ensures the scarcity of the product, thereby maintaining its purity and rawness. By abstaining from interventions that could disturb the bees, such as chemical treatments, the nutritional value of the honey remains preserved, allowing consumers to enjoy its full benefits.
Hence, mad honey is a unifloral variety created by bees foraging on Rhododendron flowers. This honey is exclusively produced at high altitudes where bees can only reside for a limited period, necessitating seasonal migration. Due to the unpredictable meteorological conditions prevalent in these regions, the harvest of mad honey is typically not abundant.
The floral diversity around the cliff area ranges from subtropical to alpine species dominated by Rhododendron species like Rhododendron arboreum, Rhododendron barbatum, Lyonia ovalifolia, Michelia kisopa, Quercus lamellosa, Acer sp., Maesa chisia, Eriobotrya elliptical, Berberis spp, Myrsine semiserrata, Schima wallichii, Castanopsis indica, and Myrica which derives the honey to be strong filed with a medicinal and psychedelic ingredient known as “Grayanotoxin”. which are harvested by the locals, usually Gurung’s foothills of the mountain. Honey hunters by now have mastered the art of honey collecting as it is an age-old tradition.
Twice a year, honey hunters embark on an expedition to procure mad honey from the foothills of the Himalayas. This endeavor is not merely about obtaining honey; it’s a profound journey aimed at preserving their values and cultures, deeply intertwined with the traditions of their communities.
The hunters meticulously gather all the necessary equipment for honey hunting and perform rituals to ensure a safe commencement of the process. With utmost care and respect, they retrieve the hive from the cliff without causing harm or disturbance to the bees, refraining from the use of chemicals or unnatural methods. Subsequently, the harvested honey is carefully filtered and transported back to Kathmandu, where it undergoes packaging before reaching consumers.
Afterward, the mad honey is shipped to various destinations across the world. Thus, Mad honey represents a completely natural, organic, and unprocessed form of honey, deriving its unique sweetness from the pristine Rhododendron forests in its purest form.