Honey, sweet, smooth, sensual and an incredibly versatile gift from the nature gods. Not just for eating, it has also been used within many medical traditions to treat ailments. Because of its super antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, many cultures have used it as an ointment to heal and clean rash’s, burns and wounds, as well as soothe sore throats, ulcers and infections. In India, Ayurvedic medicine considers honey to positively affect all 3 primitive material inbalances of the body. . In Ancient Egypt and the Middle East, people were embalmed with it and with an offering to the gods for a safe passage to afterlife. In the absence of sugar, honey was a staple in Ancient Greece. The Maya have cooked with honey for centuries, and Ancient China was the apparent origin of the Art of Beekeeping.
The communal structure of the hive is fascinating, starting with the head of the society being a single female or “queen bee”. She is then assisted by the male “drones” who are there specifically to fertilize the queens, and then the approximately 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees who play a major roles in collecting the larvae and nectar into the cells. This very structured, co-operative and highly intelligent operation is the unseen, the ” behind the scenes” of our very accessible and varied honey products. In our modern, fast food world, I doubt we really understand the energy and struggle it has been in the past, and in certain parts of the world, continues to be, to collect the hives and then process the larvae.
Here we give you these gorgeous images shot by National Geographic photographer Eric Valli , depicting the struggle and valiant spirit necessary. These fearless Gurung men from Western Nepal, are up against immense danger, dedicated to the tradition and result the of the 8,000 year old “hunt”. Using indigenous tools and resources such as a 200 foot rope ladder and balancing baskets and a long pole, they chisel their way to a giant honey comb of up to 2 million bees which is the essence of these honey products we showcase in this piece.Photography by Eric Valli