The Honey from the Foot Hills of the Himalayas


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Mad honey popularly also known as Himalayan or red honey is valued for its traditional healing properties. It is harvested from a cliff amidst a red rhododendron forest. The Hilly and mountain region of Nepal harbors medicinal plants like Acacia catechu, Bacopa monnieriBombax ceiba, Drymaria diandra, Rauvolfia serpentina, Tribulus, etc. giant Himalayan honey bee collects nectar from the flowering medicinal plants and stores it in the form of most potent form, the honey.

Mad honey is psychedelic due to the presence of grayanotoxin. Giant honey bee accumulates grayanotoxin along with nectar from the rhododendron flower which contains grayanotoxin.

Mad Honey hunters

Mad honey in Nepal is harvested by the locals, usually Gurungs of the foothills of the mountain. It is especially found in Lamjung, Dolpa, Mugu, and Mygdhi. It is harvested 2-times a year. Hunters hang with locally made ropes with stairs without other protection. One of the hunters burns green leaves to distract bees, another lowers the basket and another hunter strikes the bee comb with a wooden stick. After the honey drops into the basket, the basket is pulled to the top of the cliff.

This Honey is separated from the comb using a local bamboo basket. Honey drips from the small pores in a basket like a fine golden thread. Hunters know how strong the honey is i.e. its Grayanotoxin levels just by dropping a drop of honey in their hand. A hunter said “If honey is strong it produces burning sensations with a drop in hand. This same honey may not produce the same burning sensation to you. It is because we have our senses to it. ”

Our brothers from the Gurung tribe climb on dangling braided bamboo ropes to reach 300 meters above the ground to get natural mad honey from the slope of the gorgeous mountains of the Himalayas. They move forward surpassing wave and mass of angry bees with tiring arms and the pain of bee stings. With a dream to preserve age-old tradition, they get mad honey straight from the lap of nature.

“Together we can conquer the world.”, Gurung tribes have lived best upon this statement. Since time immemorial, Gurung tribes have been living and working unitedly. They have been taking forward the culture of getting mad honey from the Himalayas. With the ideology of progressing together, the elder ones, who are perfect with honey hunting tend to teach their younger ones in the village. The people of the community together commence their journey of getting honey from the hives. They believe in moving together achieving small to big milestones. With this unity amongst the hunters, we can get the natural money to your doorsteps.

Mad honey is valuable in the international market due to its medicinal properties. The price of mad also may vary with the time of harvest. Mad honey is classified into Rhodium, platinum, and gold versions based on grayanotoxin level and price may vary in among these versions. 

The rhodium version is the exotic one. Out of the total harvest, hardly 20 kg is obtained depending on the type of weather, rainfall, and flowers in the forest. It has a hallucinogenic effect due to the presence of “Grayanotoxin” that bee collects from the Rhododendron flowers. The dose shouldn’t exceed more than 1 tablespoon i.e., 21 grams in 24 hours span.

The Platinum version is semi-hallucinogenic with other nutritional properties remaining the same. The hunters from the rugged cliff in 2000 MASL to 2500 MASL hunt honey, filter it through the traditional process, and transfer it for packaging. This contains a moderate amount of Grayanotoxin chemical usually harvested in the month of Baishak and Jestha (April to June) in Nepal.

The gold version is a non-hallucinogenic and nutritional type of mad honey. This honey is harvested between 1500 MASL to 2000 MASL. The hunting takes place in the month of Ashwin to Kartik (September to November) in Nepal.

Wild honey bees collect a very small percentage of honey that is hallucinogenic depending upon the type of weather and type of forage. For instance, heavy pre-monsoon rain will lead to dilution of chemicals in the nectar leading to the collection of non-hallucinogenic honey by bees. Likewise, only selective forage plants have hallucinogenic chemicals.


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