Honey Hunting in The Himalayas – Documentary Photography by Tenzing Dorjé

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The Gurung people have been harvesting honey in the Himalayas since time immemorial. Their tools and techniques have been passed down through generations and only the bravest share the dangers and honour that accompany this dying practice.

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The honey they harvest is of Apis Laboriosa, the largest honeybees in the world. These honeybees build their nests on the side of steep cliffs in the high hills of the Himalayas. Their Red Honey, produced during the spring season contains intoxicating properties due to the poisonous nectar of white rhododendrons that grow in these high altitudes. Local communities have been using this honey for its medicinal and relaxing properties for centuries.

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As the reaches of modernity touch these communities, the younger generations are increasingly lured to the cities and many more to the Middle East and South-East Asia in search of work. The village of Bhujung, like countless others that dot the rough terrains of the Himalayas, now mostly consist of the elderly and their grandchildren. The effects of urbanisation are starkly felt in these remote regions.

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Many development projects along these regions have also led to changes in the agricultural landscape – loss of wilderness, soil erosion and landslides – pushing the Apis Laboriosa further up into the virgin forests of Nepal. The changes sweeping through these once isolated communities threaten the symbiotic relationship honey hunters and honeybees have shared for centuries. With an uncertain future, these last remaining honey hunters carry on their tradition while they can.

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The spring harvest was documented near the village of Bhujung in the Annapurna region of Western Nepal in April 2017.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Born in Nepal, raised in India and currently living in Toronto, Canada. I look to capture the unique and shared commonality found in the everyday.

You will find me spending most of my free time using candid situations and natural light to make photographs.

For more photographs, visit my website and for my latest posts, check out my Instagram @ten_dorje.