Honey Hunters of the Blue Mountains

Apis Dorsata, also called the giant rock bee, is the biggest social bee known today. Their nests are mainly built in exposed place far off the ground, on tree limbs or under cliff overhangs. In the Nilgiri’s Blue mountains, where Irula and Kurumba tribes live, these bees produce a very rare bitter honey. Apis Dorsata are also known for their aggressiveness, beekeepers have never managed to domesticate them. Among the Kurumbas a legend is handed down about an agreement between the god Shiva and the bees: only who is a true believer and keeps his hearth and body pure will collect their honey safely.

Honey hunters from the Nilgiri’s forests use no protection during the collection. But, the weeks before a hunt, they follow a strictly vegetarian diet, avoid to have sex or use soap, pray and make offers to the ancestors and to the deities under the beehives.

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