How Do You Harvest Honey: The Ultimate Guide
Mad honey has a deep connection to the ancient landscape of the Himalayan mountains. Imagine giant beehives, hundreds of feet in the air, attached to sheer cliff walls, populated by the world’s largest honey bees. It’s a challenging environment, both for the bees that make the honey and for the local hunters that collect it.
So why do these intrepid locals brave the heights, the bees, and the elements to collect something we can buy off the shelf at any grocery store? Because mad honey isn’t your standard honey. It contains unique compounds only found in the local rhododendron flowers that grow unchecked across the region. These compounds have powerful healing properties that can make a difference in your life.
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ARE YOU INTERESTED IN HOW YOUR HONEY IS HARVESTED?
You should be. Himalayan mad honey is possibly the most challenging honey on the planet to harvest. It’s a death-defying dance with the Spirit of the Bees, but one that’s handsomely rewarded with the most mystical, healthful honey on the market. See for yourself!
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
IF YOU'RE NEW TO THE WORLD OF MAD HONEY HARVESTING, YOU SHOULD KNOW A FEW THINGS. HERE ARE FIVE THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND IN EXTRACTING HONEY:
- You can’t do it yourself. The bees that make mad honey, and the flowers they patrol, are found in the remote mountainous regions of Nepal. If you want it, you need to buy it.
- Mad honey contains precious compounds called “grayanotoxins” that expand the mind, calm the spirit, and heal the body.
- Not all mad honey is equal. Modern collection techniques destroy the hives and the bees. Responsible companies form relationships with traditional, local honey hunters to ensure the health of the system and a sustainable supply.
- Traditional honey hunts in Nepal happen twice a year, giving the bees time to rebuild safely.
- Harvesting honey is a dangerous, painstaking process but one that’s worth it!
Now that you know more about honey harvesting, let's get into the details.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR HARVESTING MAD HONEY
You might think you know what it takes to harvest mad honey, but this is no usual honey. There are no beekeeper suits or orderly hives. Traditional honey hunting happens out in the wilderness. Here's a list of what traditional honey hunters use in pursuit of their prize.
- Hunters use long bamboo rope ladders to reach the honey. The hunters hang these from the top of cliffs and then climb down to access the massive hives clinging to the cliff wall.
- Mesh bags are sometimes worn over the hunter's heads to protect their faces and eyes from stings. This isn’t always the case, however. Many hunters wear no protection at all.
- Strategically placed wood fires are set on the ground below the hives. The smoke calms the bees, helping limit the number of stings the hunters are subjected to.
- Large sticks are used to beat the edges of the hive, breaking chunks loose and sending them plummeting hundreds of feet down to the rocks below.
- The honey is extracted from the honeycomb using traditional tools. This is the only part of the process that isn’t dangerous.
Harvesting mad honey can be time-consuming and dangerous, so it’s critical that we leave it to the professionals.
HOW TO FIND A BEEHIVE
The Gurung people of Nepal have been safeguarding the Spirit of the Bees for thousands of years. They know where the precious bees build their hives. They’ve learned to read the land to find the giant, disc-shaped hives they seek.
They know these intrepid bees build their hives on sheer cliff walls hundreds of feet above the rocky tundra. The hunters follow the bees’ paths across the vast rhododendron fields, eventually dangling from the cliff edge to expertly carve away loaded honeycomb.
HOW TO EXTRACT MAD HONEY FROM THE HONEYCOMB
As the honey hunters dangle from their rope bridge, fending off bees and cleaving away hunks of comb, their compatriots sit below, gathering the chunks as they explode against the rocks in deep-red honey bursts. Using traditional techniques, the hunters gather up the honeycomb fragments and drain them of the mystical honey residing inside.
STORAGE AND SHELF LIFE OF HONEY
Raw honey is a natural product that doesn't contain any preservatives. If not stored correctly, its quality can degrade over time. Honey can’t spoil, but it will crystallize, hardening into a crunchy solid. There are no safety concerns to worry about, but some don’t enjoy the texture.
To avoid crytallization, store your honey at room temperature in a dark place like a pantry or cupboard. Keep it out of direct sunlight and avoid excessive, extended heat. Overheating can damage the honey’s healing properties. Conversely, cold storage, like a refrigerator, will accelerate crystallization.
Properly stored, your Himalayan mad honey can last indefinitely!
BENEFITS OF HARVESTING HONEY
Mad honey has many benefits that make it a great addition to your self-care. Here are a few of the most notable benefits:
- It helps those that suffer from anxiety and depression
- It’s a mild pain reliever suited for our daily aches and pains.
- It’s an effective treatment for certain sleep disorders. It promotes deep, restful sleep and a refreshed awakening.
- It’s been shown to have antimicrobial and antiviral effects.
- It’s a valued medicine in one of the world’s oldest cultures, and it’s now available to the rest of the planet.
TIPS FOR HARVESTING YOUR HONEY
We get it. You’re eager to get your hands on your first jar. We would be, too. But harvesting your own is impossible. Unless you can hop a plane to Nepal, scale the treacherous paths up the Himalayan mountains and then dangle from the edge of the world, you can’t harvest your own mad honey.
Thankfully, you don’t have to. Get yours from Himalayan Honey.
FAQS ABOUT HARVESTING MAD HONEY
Q: What is the best time of year to harvest honey?
A: Traditional Nepalese honey hunters harvest honey twice a year to allow the hives time to heal and rebuild.
Q: How much honey can they expect from on hive?
A: The hives in Nepal are massive constructions. One can contain as much as 130 lbs of honey. But the Gurung never take an entire hive. They conserve for the future and the good of the bees.
Q: My honey crystallized. What can I do?
A: To use crystallized honey, place the jar in a bowl of hot water and stir until the honey becomes liquid again.
FINAL THOUGHTS / IN CONCLUSION
Harvesting mad honey isn’t for the faint of heart. Thankfully, the Gurung people are keeping their vigil with the bees. Their harvesting efforts are now bringing this most miraculous of honeys to the greater world. The mind-expanding, healing properties of Himalayan mad honey can be yours with Himalayan Honey.