Origin: The absolutely delicious, yummy and flavorful Honey Hunters’ Madhu is gathered by our team members who belong to the Naga tribes of Nagaland. Our dare devils collect this honey from the thick, dense and heavily forested areas of Nagaland which are very difficult to reach. The life risking truth behind the collection of this honey make it unique and exceptional from the other honeys. This iron, minerals and vitamins rich super-food is loaded with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
About Nagaland Forest: Nagaland supports a flamboyant and unique tribal culture which leaves anybody visiting the place amazed and stunned. It is appealingly rich in flora and fauna; the high cliffs, tall trees, blooming flowers, soothing fragrance of vibrant flowers, twittering and chirping of birds make it an absolutely panoramic and wonderful place. It is abode to some of the exceptional and wonderful plant and animal species, not leaving behind the adorable and cute birds to which this place is home. Owing to its diversity in birds, Nagaland is referred to as, The Falcon Capital of The World. The birds found here are White vultures, Black partridge, Grey Partridge, Common peafowl, Blue rock pigeon, Spotted dove, Hoopoe, Malabar pied hornbill, Common babbler, Mahratta woodpecker, Koel, Spotted owlet and Great horned owl. Among the animals the most common are wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan black bear, wild goat, jackal, jungle cat, royal Bengal tiger, wolf, leopard, wild dog, python, stag, elephant, land tortoise and other snakes. Nagaland has been listed in the 10th distinct bio-geographic zone under one of the identified 18 Mega hot spot in the world. It is home to the exceptional and finest Tropical, Subtropical Evergreen forests and a distinct Broad leaved Moist Temperate forests. The floral vegetation and fauna elements constitute the transition zone of Indian, Indo Malayan and Indo Chinese bio-geographic regions. Many primitive angiosperms & early flowering plants still exist here and the area is considered as a cradle of flowering plants. It is habitat of more than 656 medicinal plants, 57 bamboo species, more than 345 Orchid species, 52 wild edible flowers, 280 species of ferns, 346 species of lichens, 560 species of indigenous local useful trees and 147 species of commercial timber plants. The dominant plant species of these forests are Gomari, Holloc, Koroi, Mesua, Tita-Chapa, Neem, Wild Mango, Amla and Bamboo.
About Naga Tribes: Nagaland is home to the people of Naga tribes. There are several views about the origin of the word Naga. According to some scholars, the word Naga has evolved from Sanskrit word Nagna means Naked. Nagas usually do not wear clothes and are proverbially known by the paucity of their clothes. Other scholars say that the Naga word has originated by Naga, i.e., snake or King of Snakes. According to some Mythlogical stories, the Sourh-west part of Nagaland was residence of princess Ulupi, daughter of the king of snakes. Since this area was under the Naga raj, the people are known as Naga.
There are 16 Naga tribes that inhabit Nagaland. These sixteen Naga tribes include Ao, Konyak, Sema, Chakhesang, Angami, Lotha, Sangtam, Phom, Chang, Kheimungan, Yimchunger, Zeilang, Rengma, Tikhir, Mokware, and Chirr. The Konyak is the largest tribe of Nagaland that lives in Mon district. The term ‘Konyak’ is derived from the combination of two words viz., ‘Whao’, i.e., ‘head’ and ‘Nyak’ , i.e., ‘black’ means ‘men with black hair’. Earlier, the Konyaks were notorious for their practice of head hunting. A rite of passage for young boys of the tribe was to present the decapitated heads of the rival tribe members into the community. The decapitated heads were brought back as trophies and hung in a community barn known as a “baan”. The honor and position of a particular member of the society was decided by the number of heads decapitated by him. The Ao is one of the major Naga tribes of Nagaland. It is believed that the roots of Ao Naga tribes are in Southeast Asian countries. These people are of mongoloid ancestry who migrated into the hilly regions of the present day Nagaland. The Ao languages are known to belong to the Tibeto-Burmese family.
Honey Origin: The honey is produced by the wild honeybees (Apis dorsata) who usually make their hives on the high cliffs making its collection extremely strenuous and complex. This giant honeybee can produce more honey than in comparison to other species of honeybees because of its massive size. The nests of these wild giant honey bees are large single combs which can accommodate more than 60,000 bees. The colonies of these bees can be quite aggressive, about three quarters of their population remain involved in colony defense, forming a preventive screen around the nest. The colonies of these wild bees are efficient to make large flights and can cover a distance of up to 200 kms, making the honey unique in taste, color and aroma as the quality of honey depends upon the flowers and plants from where bees collect the honey.
Harvesting Process: Our team stayed in the jungles for 7-8 days, without giving a thought to the risk of our lives that was hidden behind this adventurous task of honey collection. The chilling, numbing cold nights added more thrill in the impenetrable and dense forests. Besides it, presence of wild animals made this entire process more eventful and memorable. Our team members made a web of bamboo and plants’ stems to reach the hives present on the high cliffs. The whole team worked in a well-coordinated manner. Some dare devils climb up and hang on the cliffs while other members helped them in the whole process. A special bundle of twigs having dried leaves towards the inner side and fresh leaves on the outer side was used to produce smoke to drive the bees out of the comb. Bees show a peculiar defensive behavior while sensing a threat. The members of our honey collection team stayed still for few minutes to calm the aggressive bees. Only the honey filled chambers of the comb were cut with the help of a sharp knife, thus leaving the possibility for the bees to return to their hives again and to repopulate it.
Tales and Rituals: Honey is a very important part of the socio-economic lives of Naga people. The newly born child is provided the rice water with honey instead of milk. The Naga people sell bee hives in the market which is an important source of their income. The larval and pupa stages of honey bees are considered as a delicacy. These people use honey for medicinal purposes also. A particular honey called yiecho dzu/rupo dzu (local name) is applied for curing burn injuries, whereby healing takes place very rapidly. The decoction of bamboo shoot is taken with teaspoonful of honey once or twice a day to cure respiratory diseases. This practice is followed by all the people of Nagaland for about 100 years.
Extraction Process: The combs were collected in special baskets made of bamboo. The honey was then manually squeezed out from the collected combs and kept in bamboo bottles. The honey was poured slowly, drop by drop from the bamboo bottles on to a cotton cloth containing scattered rice bran for the filtration of the honey. The filtration process took approx. 5-6 hours to obtain 1 kg honey. The filtered honey was temporarily stored in wooden buckets and finally filled carefully in glass bottles. In this filtration process only hive debris was removed while all the useful substances like propolis, royal jelly, pollen etc. were restored, which made this honey absolutely delicious, tasty and yummy. The entire process was performed in sterile and hygienic conditions. The process did not involve use of machines which played an important role in maintaining the natural color, taste and aroma of this honey.
Color & Taste: This honey is light brown in color with medium viscosity. The distant, pleasing aroma and bitter- sweet taste of ‘Honey Hunters’ Madhu’ reminds the wild flora of the forest region. The honey is unheated, unprocessed and unadulterated. It does not contain artificial additives, coloring agents, sugar or preservatives.
Naga people use honey for the following purposes:
- They use a teaspoon full of honey with water (50-100 ml) for the treatment of diarrhea.
- They apply sour honey (Teliane dui) on the wounds of the animals suffering from Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) to give them relief.
- The Lotha and Ao tribes apply finely crushed root powder of R. cordifolia along with little honey to the face for healing skin tissues damaged by injury or infection.
- Rhus semialata (Tangma-tong, Tanmo) with 1 tsp of stingless honey and sugar in warm water is given to drink for three days, once a day, in the nighttime to treat gastritis.
- One teaspoon of honey with a pinch of salt in 100 ml of water is used for gas expulsion by Angami, Zeliang, Lotha, Sumi and Rengma tribes.
- A small piece of Zingiber officinale (Hebei) rhizome, mixed with a little amount of honey is taken orally in the treatment of throat pain and cough, common cold, fever, and as an antidote in food poisoning.
Pick me up: Naga people take honey as beverage. The other recipes of Nagaland that contain honey are lemon honey chicken, Hinkejvu etc. These delicious, mouthwatering dishes can be tried to satisfy your taste-buds.