I first ran across this story last year. The title “Hunting for Hallucinogenic Honey in Nepal” was intriguing enough to get me to click on it. I have a few bee hives, I’ve extracted a bit of honey. For centuries people have praised the medicinal value of natural honey. But I did not know that in certain parts of the world honey could cause hallucinations.
In Turkey and Nepal, they call it “Mad Honey” or “Red Honey”. The red honey comes from Rhododendrons growing high up in the mountains. It is produced by a specific bee, the Giant Bee of Himalayas. Up to 3 cm, they build hanging nests on cliff faces that can be as big as 5 feet in diameter.
Generations of Gurungs in Nepal have built homemade ladders to dangle off of these cliff faces just to harvest this highly sought-after honey.
Most of my honey harvest will come from the fields of clover that grow wild in my area. I do have two small Rhododendrons, but I don’t think I will be harvesting any red honey anytime soon.
There are a few videos of these daring honey harvesters on the interwebs. This short video from National Geographic will give you a good idea what they go through.
And yes, they do get stung while hanging onto a homemade ladder on the side of a cliff.