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To Bee, or not to Bee...

Apis Dorsata /Laboriosa aka the Himalayan giant honey bee is the world’s largest honey bee and can measure up to 30 mm in length.

The giant honey bees from Nepal are the world's largest of the honey bee species however their color is quite similar to the European honey bee, with golden, black and pale bands on the abdomen and with a hairy thorax. Their forewing length can vary from between 13 to 15 mm for a total length of up to 30 mm.

Their open style of hive has led them to develop aggressive defense tactics and become physically stronger. Around three quarters of a colony is engaged in defense, forming a protective curtain around the nest that is three to four bees thick.

The suspended nests

The Himalayan giant bees build their nests at high altitudes above 1500m in small forested area in the center of the Nepalese Himalayas northwest of Kathmandu.

Their nests are massive single semi-circular combs which can measure up to 1.5 meter in width, 1 meter in depth; weigh up to 60 kg; contain upwards of 60,000 bees and forming clusters of, sometimes up to 50 nests.

Giant honey bee nests are usually built in exposed places far off the ground, on thick branches or on rocky outcrop of cliff face. Unlike dwarf honey bees, the giant honey bee nests hang underneath a structure such as a branch or a rock.

From Grayanotoxin to Mad Honey

The Apis Dorsata feed on the nectar and pollen of rhododendron flowers which contains Grayanotoxins and results in this crazy unique honey called “mad honey”. - Check our Mad Honey products in our shop

Grayanotoxins are neurotoxins that do not affect the bees but affect mammals (incl. Humans) by blocking sodium channels within the phospholipid bilayer of cells. The result is several effects such as euphoria, body heat, dizziness, sedation, heartrate disorder, blurred vision and sometimes hallucinations. Mad honey can also cause vomiting, impaired consciousness and fainting. Even with these side effects, no deaths from ingesting mad honey have been reported and there aren’t any lasting side effects after the Grayanotoxins have left the body.