Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

Twice each year, the Gurung tribespeople of Central Nepal risk their lives collecting wild honey from the world's largest hives high up on Himalayan cliffs. Travel photographer Andrew Newey recently spent two weeks capturing this ancient but dying art.

All photos courtesy Andrew Newey. They are are republished here with permission. You can find him on Facebook.

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

"For hundreds of years, the skills required to perform this dangerous task have been passed down through the generations" writes Newey, "but now both the bees and traditional honey hunters are in short supply."

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

To collect the honey, the hunters use nothing more than handmade rope ladders and long sticks called tangos. Smoke is used to drive thousands of angry Apis laboriosa — the largest honey bee in the world.

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

The majority of the massive hives are located on steep, south-west facing cliffs to avoid predators and for increases exposure to direct sunlight.

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

The autumn honey hunt requires three days and is preceded by a ceremony meant to placate the cliff gods.

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

The honey is lowered to a team of helpers waiting below.

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal

Stunning photos show the ancient tradition of honey hunting in Nepal