National Geographic : 1988 Nov
TO CAPTURE Mani Lal on film, Eric rappels down the precipice on a nylon rope (left)-the first time a Westerner has ever joined the hunter in his dangerous spot. The rock's name, Samser Bhir, means "cliff of 300 nests," recalling a time when combs were far more numerous. Bees surround Mani Lal as he begins to harvest the fruit of their labor. The nest has two parts-the honeycomb, attached to the cliff, and the brood comb, the lower crescent with pupae, eggs, and larvae. He uses a pole to push two short sticks into the brood comb. The sticks are tied to a cord dropped from the cliff top. When the brood comb is free, it swings toward him, knocking against his ladder. But Mani Lal holds on tightly, and the comb, a valuable source of wax, is lowered to the ground. Honey-hunting methods have changed little over the centuries. A cave painting near Valencia, Spain, about 10,000 years old, shows a hunter on a ladder hold ing a bucket or basket beside a bee nest. Similar scenes have been found in Africa and India.