Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros45-46Hors dossierHoney Gatherers, Bee Hunters/Trap...

Hors dossier

Honey Gatherers, Bee Hunters/Trappers, and Keepers of (Stingless) Bees in the World - Ethnozoological surveys in Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Nepal, and Australia (2012-2019)

Cueilleurs de miel, chasseurs d’abeilles, piégeurs d’essaims et éleveurs d’abeilles dans le monde – Études ethnozooogiques réalisées au Pérou, Brésil, Cuba, Népal et en Australie (2012-2019)
Recolectores de miel, cazadores de enjambres y criadores de abejas en Perú, Brasil, Cuba, Nepal y Australia (2012-2019)
Samuel Perichon
Traduction(s) :
Recolectores de miel, cazadores de enjambres y criadores de abejas en Perú, Brasil, Cuba, Nepal y Australia (2012-2019)
Cueilleurs de miel, chasseurs d’abeilles, piégeurs d’essaims et apiculteurs dans le monde – Études ethnozoologiques réalisées au Pérou, Brésil, Cuba, Népal et en Australie (2012-2019)


Partout où des abeilles mellifères partagent un territoire avec des hommes, il existe des pratiques apicoles plus ou moins évoluées techniquement. De manière schématique, on distingue la cueillette des miels sauvages, la chasse ou le piégeage d’essaims et l’élevage des abeilles. Ces trois catégories d’activités peuvent cohabiter sur un même territoire et concerner une ou plusieurs espèces à la fois. À partir d’enquêtes ethnozoologiques que nous avons menées au Pérou, au Brésil, à Cuba, au Népal et en Australie, nous monterons comment la domestication des abeilles peut se heurter à des spécificités géographiques, historiques et culturelles. Pour ce faire, nous avons construit une grille comprenant 29 variables afin de déterminer une valeur indiciaire et former un nuage de points en confrontant les pratiques de cueillette ou de chasse avec les pratiques d’élevage. Le résultat produit une droite de régression décroissante ce qui démontrerait que le développement de l’apiculture entraînerait un recul des traditions apicoles dans les deux autres catégories à savoir la cueillette et la chasse.

Haut de page

Notes de l’auteur


For the assistance provided during the surveys and for the exchange on bees, the author thank Reynaldo Elizaldes, Llony Yllesquaz, Ramon Pardo, Rodolfo Jaffé, Cleiton Geuster, Abrelino Parizotto, Jorge Demedio, Walberto Lóriga, Angela May, Jacson Rodriguez da Silva, Fabio Paz Rocha, Chet Bhatta, Sai Bhatta, Madan Sing, Tim Heard and Cooper Schouten.

Texte intégral


1From time immemorial, honey has been healthy and useful to humans, other hominids such as chimpanzees or orangutans, and other mammals, Mustelidae and Ursidae in particular (Estienne et al. 2017; McLennan 2011; Kajobe and Roubik 2006). They are called “melophages” because they like to eat honey and bee brood. According to Crittenden (2011), honey gathering would be much earlier than rock art scenes dating back to the Paleolithic (Crane, 1999). It has been practised by Australopithecus. These prehistoric men used lianas to climb a tree to get bee nests out of a hollow tree. Also, they likely collected honey with the most rudimentary of tools. This age-old practice has survived over the years in some parts of the world and related to religious and cosmological beliefs (Schouten et al., 2019). The Pygmies consider honey as a vital principle and its gather is always preceded by dancing around a torch fire sprinkled with vine sap (Bahuchet, 1992). In a special Aboriginal ceremony, two young men dance around trees, mimicking honey gathering a branch of eucalyptus in from of their face as though to protect themselves from imaginary insects (De Largy Healy, 2011). There are many other examples Refs?

2Unlike gatherers, hunters and trappers are very concerned about the well-being of bees and the development of brood. The survival of bee colonies is indispensable to honey harvest later. Generally, bees house some natural cavities as the hollow trees. The hollow logs are brought carefully back home to be keeping one eye on the bees. Honey reserves should be sufficient to meet the minimum food needs as otherwise the colonies may be absconded. The interventions are limited to only seasonal harvests. The third type of practice corresponds to (stingless) beekeeping. They are more integrated into the market economy, looked for high honey yield, and easy to breed. Nevertheless, the rationalization of bee practices are not necessarily modern.

3Between July 2012 and August 2019, in several countries of the world, we conducted interviews of men and women who take part in bee practices. To date, our results have been (or will be) published separately (Perichon et al., 2020; Perichon and Bhatta, 2019; Perichon et al., 2016, 2014, 2013; Perichon, 2012). This article allows the comparison of the various situations to study sites, bee species and types of practices associated with bees. It offers the opportunity to identify common uses, convergent points of view or, on the contrary, geographical, religious and cultural specificities. It should also be able to assess the effects or consequences of the modernization of bee breeding practices on the local traditions, and; conversely to evaluate the weight of popular traditions and belief influences on the evolution of bee practices in the world.

1. Study Sites and Methodology

1.1. Study Sites

4Most of our study sites are located in protected areas or are hot spots of global biodiversity (Figure 1, see next page). Typically, there are forested areas: from dry tropical forests (Biosphere Reserve of Noroeste or Sierra del Rosario) to tropical rainforest (Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve) or subalpine forest (Annapurna Conservation Area). Agriculture is one of the primary sources of income for rural people in all these areas. Rice, maize, and cassava are widely grown in the protected areas at hand. Sometimes cows, buffaloes, and goats are kept for milk and meat. Products of hunting and fishing can also provide additional income if these practices are legally permitted by domestic legislation or if authorities have no means of enforcing the law prohibiting them. In Cuba, we also investigated an agro-industrial region was formerly occupied by a large semi-deciduous forest with 20-30-meter tall trees. Today, the only land out of cultivation is wooded yet. In southern Brazil, it is another area of a low plateau that has seen its forest disappear or be strongly impacted by agribusiness. Around Chapecó, a city of 180,000 inhabitants of Santa-Catarina, the ancient forest of araucaria was almost destroyed. The most recent study that we have realized has been in Brisbane (approximately 2.5 million inhabitants). In this city, a local law (2003) protects all the vegetation if it is located near the Brisbane River or a waterway corridor, and in a bushland area. The protection includes endemic plant species such as hoop pines that were once part of the rainforest that covered parts of Brisbane; trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and vines including dead trees or hollow logs, that are important habitat for wildlife. We opted for this city because it is the main focus for the dissemination of stingless beekeeping in Australia.

Figure 1. Study sites

Figure 1. Study sites

1.2. Bee species and practices associated with honey bees

5At the end of a series of interviews, 31 species of stingless bees were mentioned. They belong to 15 genera, Melipona is the most represented with 13 species, before Plebeia (5). There are three species of Apis: A. mellifera, A. cerana, A. laboriosa. It should be underlined that the species richness of native entomofauna does not necessarily affect the number of honey bee species concerned by bee practices.

6Around Lake Amanã, for example, hunting and breeding activities relate only four species of stingless bees, while 33 species were inventoried and two-thirds of them may be domesticated. In contrast, in Chapecó, 21 species (Figure 2a-b) and seven subspecies live in a human-made environment. Five species of them have also been acclimated (Figure 2c). In Cuba, there is only one representative of this Hymenoptera tribe. The exact circumstances of the arrival on the island of Melipona beecheii (Figure 2d) remain rather vague. There are two hypotheses: the introduction of the species, 2000 or 2500 years ago, by Maya Indians or a natural process of dispersal (driftwood coming from the Yucatan Peninsula with bee nests). On the island, M. beecheii are hunted and breed in the hollow logs or wooden boxes (frequent use of ammunition boxes).

Figure 2. Example of bee species breeding

Figure 2. Example of bee species breeding

a) Melipona quadrifasciata, b) Tetragonisca angustula, c) M. mondory, d) M. beecheii, e) M. mimetica, f) Plebeia emerina

7In the Noroeste Biosphere Reserve (Peru), local inhabitants gather the honey of Geotrigona fumipennis, a bee species that nests in abandoned termite mounds. They hunt also Melipona mimetica (Figure 2e) and more rarely Plebeia emerina (Figure 2f). Stingless bee colonies may be transferred to hive boxes. Professional beekeeping (Apis mellifera) is very present in this Peruvian area. It has developed rapidly since the National Beekeeping Plan entered into force in 1995. At the same time, the stingless bee breeding declines in rural areas because it is perceived as a tedious and low-profit activity.

8In Australia, commercial stingless beekeeping is a very recent activity, which started in the early 1990s. The first models of hives designed for Tetragonula would indeed have been imagined in the 1970s by Monteith and Curtis who would also have been the first to succeed in the splitting technique. The possibility of increasing the number of bee colonies has actively contributed to promoting and disseminate the stingless beekeeping wherever possible in this country and, especially, in the Eastern coast. Several species of Tetragonula and Austroplebeia are breeding for enjoyment, conservation, pollinate own crops, honey production.

9In the Annapurna Mountains, two species of the genus Apis are present: Apis laboriosa also called “giant bee of the Himalayas” and A. cerana. The “giant bee” is the subject of a very famous honey gathering because it is a spectacular scene. In the village of Bhujung, twice a year, dozens of colonies build large combs on the cliffs (Figure 2i). These large bees can travel long distances, thus they can follow the flowering period on different levels of vegetation. Apis cerana, on the other hand, is a small, sedentary bee, which is trapped and domesticated.

1.3. The survey technique

10The database is derived from information collecting during semi-structured interviews. These verbal exchanges were conducted by two (or three) interviewers: the author of the article, a French geographer and beekeeper, and another researcher (from the country concerned) or a local bee specialist. As the interviews took place in the respondent’s home, we had the opportunity to inspect the hives. Thus, we can keep talking, but in another context. The practices associated with bees occupied most of our exchanges because our studies aimed to develop a collection of practices and uses of honey. According to the regional context, other issues were addressed by the interviewees. In Peru, we have talked about the ecological role of indigenous entomofauna and the interspecific competition (Apis mellifera versus stingless bees). In Cuba, they told us their opposition to the monetarization of ecosystem services. In Brazil, the relevance of a law passed in August 2004 has been a topic of discussion among the keepers of stingless bees in Chapecó city. Since 2004, it is forbidden to introduce bee colonies outside their natural range even if they do not cross national borders. In the Amazon, the interviewees liked to remind the singularity of the places where they reside: the remarkable diversity, including many species of fauna and flora considered rare. The mediatization of the medicinal virtues of wild honey was also very present in the conversations. In Annapurna, many opinions were made by religious reasons, beliefs or superstitions. In Queensland, we have discussed issues concerning the valorization of bee’s historical, artistic and cultural heritage that is to say the role of aboriginal culture in the national stingless beekeeping.

Table 1. Study sites and profiles of interviewees


Type of protected area

Local municipality


Category of bee practices


Average age



Noroeste Biosphere Reserve

San Jacinto, Matapalo, Papayal, Zorritos…


Breeding, hunting

and gathering


military personnel

48 years


(2013, 2015)





Liberal profession


45 years

Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve

Boa Esperança, Santo Estavao, Calafate…


Breeding and hunting


53 years




San Jose de las Lajas, Tapaste, Guïnes…




54 years

Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve

Las Terrazas


Breeding, gathering

Employees, merchants

57 years

Nepal (2018)

Annapurna Conservation Area



Gathering, hunting, breeding


52 years

Australia (2019)





Teacher, liberal profession

51 years

11A total of 103 men and women engaged in bee practices were interviewed. The average duration of the interviews has 1 hour and 15 minutes but varied from 30 minutes to 8 hours. The interviewee profile is a farmer residing in a locality under 3,500 people in a protected area (Table 1). He is around fifty years of age, he has between 2 and 5 colonies of bees and go hunting swarms in the forests. Women represent only 9.5% in our sample. In general, they do not participate in hunting and gathering practices. Sometimes as in the village of Bhujung, the bee activities are prohibited for them. In Cuba, on the other hand, and in the Amazon, many women provide care for the bees. Most of them have inherited colonies from his husband or his father. They keep that memory alive by caring for insects that the deceased seemed to enjoy being around bees. However, the profile of the Chapecó and Brisbane interviewees is in contrast to other study sites, as we are dealing with higher socio-professional categories, business leaders and lawyers. The activity is not only to breed bees but also experiment with new practices and promote the development of stingless beekeeping.

12We look at different situations according to sites, practices associated with bees, species bees. For example, in the Noroeste Biosphere Reserve, the honey gathering of Geotrigona fumipennis; hunting and breeding of Melipona mimetica; and beekeeping (Apis mellifera) account for three situations. In Bhujung, we are facing a similar situation to a native species whose honey is only gathering (Apis laboriosa) and another species (A. cerana) can be hunted or kept. So, we have two additional situations. Elsewhere, one situation applies to each study site. There are, in other words, ten situations.

13To facilitate analysis in terms of the situations, an evaluation grid for each practice associated with bees had developed. This grid is in two sections:

  • The first section concerns specifically bee practical. For wild honey gathering and bee colonies hunting, there are three criteria: (a) the existence of actively searching for nests or trapping strategy (routes, preferred trees by bees, types, and sites of trap boxes to catch swarms of bees); (b) the use of different or special bee tools and equipment; (c) the social framework (is it a collective approach or a self-initiative?). For the breeding, three criteria were also chosen: (a) the use of divisible hives, (b) the splitting technique (artificial swarming), (c) the breeding of queens (Apis) or the acclimatization of species exotic (stingless bees). Each activity category was rated 7 (table 2, next page).

  • The second section of our grid is common to the three categories of activities (gathering, hunting/trapping, breeding). It has a coefficient of 14. Seven criteria appear: the nature of the outlets for honey (self-consumption, marketing at the local, regional, national and international levels); the existence of a marketing practices; the creation of special interest groups (associations, Internet community); the experimentation and the search for institutional partnerships; the integration of animal welfare; the longstanding bee practices; and the uses of honeys (for therapeutic purposes).

14We used all these criteria to assess each practice on a rating scale of 1 to 3. The number of points by criteria were allocated by their discriminating powers. We believe that criteria such as “use of specific tools and equipment” for honey gathering, “social context” for hunting, and “breeding of queens” or “species acclimation” for keeping would be particularly discriminating. Regardless of practices, “animal welfare” and “longstanding practices” are also very important factors in our results. The interest of the evaluation grid is to be able to: compare traditional practices with modern practices; to evaluate the influence of one on the other and to answer the problems of the effects or consequences of modernization practices on the tradition. Let us now look at the results obtained once the grid has been completed. The scores are displayed in the value index (Table 2).

Table2. The report of grid results on the situations

Table2. The report of grid results on the situations

2. Results

15The average of the indexes (combining all situations) is quite low (0.394), and the standard deviation is significant (0.278). Only two situations exceed an index value of 0.85: the stingless bees breeding in Chapecó and the honey gathering in Bhujung. The averages by types show a much higher value for the gathering practices (0.762) than for those associated with hunting/trapping (0.381) or breeding (0.476).

2.1. Practices, beliefs, trade, and uses of honey

16The gathering practices we studied are often elaborate strategies to locate bee nests. They are part of a collective approach if the actions to be carried out are dangerous or impossible to do alone. The honey harvesting of Apis laboriosa is a perfect example. Bee colonies hunting seems more uncertain about the study sites. Swarm catches can be fortuitous: discovery of a nest in a felled tree or fallen after a cyclone. Also, surveys are often linked to other activities (game hunting, fishing, seasonal cattle migration, grazing). However, the hunters know perfectly what the bees want to nest: particular tree species, size tree cavities, ecological environment, etc. In the Annapurna mount, they always stopped to inspect the large trees with dense foliage and covered by epiphytes. Bee colonies hunting can be practised in the dark or light, at appropriate times of the year or all season. What we have seen in the Amazon is interesting to report on this point. The hunt for stingless bees takes place at night during the spring-water season in the submerged forest fringe. The rise in the water level of the lake and the rivers feeding it allow canoe hunters to move as close as possible to the lower branches of the alluvial forest canopies and to hear the buzzing bees in tree cavities. The water level decrease will later make this hunting technique based on listening with lookout times along a canoe trip impossible. The transfer of the nests takes place at several levels, between 2 and 6 people, depending on the estimated difficulty of the work to be done. In most cases, it involves cutting off a section of trunk or branch to take it the hunter’s home. When the tree cannot be cut down, the stingless bee colonies are transferred to a box before being transported. This operation is often performed by men from the same family. In Cuba and Nepal, farmers prefer to keep hollow logs than hive boxes; some because they fear the colonies will abscond before the honey harvest; others because building beehives or hive boxes are complicated or expensive.

Figure 3. Keepers of stingless bees, hunters of honey bee colonies and honey gatherers

Figure 3. Keepers of stingless bees, hunters of honey bee colonies and honey gatherers

a) honey extracted from the pots by the use of a syringe (Las Terrazas, Cuba); b) the breeding of Scharziana quadripunctata, a honey bee species nests underground (Chapecó, Brazil); c) hive boxes suspended under a roof (San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba); d) transfer next to a hive box (Santo Estavao, Brazil); e) hive boxes with electric heating (Chapecó, Brazil); f) a passive transfer in a stingless beehive (Brisbane, Australia); g) a tasting of honeys of Tetragonula carbonaria (Brisbane, Australia); h) a gatherer with the equipment needed to harvest wild honey from Apis laboriosa (Bhujung, Nepal); i) a cliff where three colonies of Apis laboriosa built their comb (Bhujung, Nepal).

17Splitting bee hives and genetic selection are poorly controlled or even ignored. The observation is valid for all the situations described, with three exceptions: the beekeepers in the Noroeste Biosphere Reserve and the keepers of stingless bees in Chapecó and Brisbane. In Latin America, the irrational fear of European bees (A. mellifera ligustica) and "Africanized" bee (A. m. ligustica x A. scutellata) explains that their breeding remains a professional affair. The level of technicality is therefore high. Let us look now at the case of the city of Chapecó and more generally the situation in Brazil.

18The democratization of Internet use has actively contributed to the spread of innovative breeding practices throughout this country, all the more so since scientific research on stingless bees is very active and accessible in the national language. In Chapecó, very early on, Internet access made it possible to train on one’s own by using extension materials or by making video clips explain, for example, how to wipe out swarms, how to multiply them, etc. Today, none of the countries visited are on the margins of this digital revolution. The use of smartphones further extends the possibilities of exchange and distribution. Social networks also play a major role in the evolution of bee breeding practices, probably more so than specialized sites (institutional or not) or blogs. Groups dedicated to stingless bees can sometimes have up to 10,000 members. In Australia, the situation is particular in so far as the stingless beekeeping is a very recent activity although bee hunting, honey gathering and traditional uses associated with them are components of the identity of the Aboriginal peoples. For our interviewees, action plans to promote Aboriginal knowledge of stingless bees should mainly focus on cultural promotion activities. We distinguish two fields of action, one that is interested in ethnology through the funding to collect data about ancestral traditions and promotes the transmission of knowledge. For others, the fieldwork of ethnologists of the last century would have become major sources of information on Aboriginal culture in Queensland, more than those who would be the heirs.

19In the Annapurna Mountain, the situation is heavily influenced by the weight of myths and religious beliefs. For example, the calendar of beekeeping practices must respect the lunar cycle; domestic animals are sacrificed as a testimony of worship to the God of the cliffs (honey is gathered on rocky walls); holy water is poured over trap boxes, etc. Logically, the oldest beekeeping traditions concern mainly gathering (or hunting) practices targeted at species that are very difficult to keep or cannot be kept. We also observed it in Peru with Geotrigona fumipennis. In this region, the wild honey is generally considered to be of a higher quality than honey from stingless bees breeding. This difference may be explained by the fact that the nectar comes exclusively from native forest species. The situation is less true in Amazon and Cuba because stingless bees are domesticated in forest area and when they live in the rural area, these bees develop a liking for cultivated and ornamental plants.

20With particular regard to the market in honey, each situation is different. It can be consumed at home, offered as a gift or sold locally and even for exports. According to the country and the bee species, honey can be packaged in an unlabelled worn plastic or glass soda bottles (50 cl) or in a honeypot conform to the export market expectations. The water content (more than 18%) and the presence of impurities will confer to the honey of stingless bees a risk of fermentation that it is not safe for human consumption. This is why, in Chapecó, the keepers of stingless bees prefer to pasteurize honey even if they know that the process changes the organoleptic quality of the product irreparably.

21Honey is used wherever to soothe the throat or relieve a cough. The dosage is often the same: one or two teaspoonfuls melted in a hot drink (lemon water, milk or tea). In Latin America, it may be added with sugar cane alcohol (rum, cachaça). Honey is also eaten to feel more lively, on its own or accompanied to orange juice, rice, clarified butter or spread. In Australia, many people eat it on sweet dishes (e.g. macadamia pie) or ice cream. However, there are local traditions. In the Noroeste Biosphere Reserve, before a birth, future parents or grandparents buy honey from Melipona mimetica. This product is intended for the new-born child and his mother. To increase their immune defences, a few drops of honey are prescribed for the first six months of an infant’s life. Mothers use honey before and after childbirth as an antiseptic (cervicovaginal disinfection). It is also a treatment using honey to manage the symptoms of eye diseases like cataracts. Concurrent testimonies were collected in Cuba and Brazil. It is in the Amazon that the medical use of honey is the richest panel we have had to catalogue. It is said that the honey will be very effective against migraine, asthma and stomach pain; applied externally, it would facilitate healing and fight against water retention. Unusually, the pollen is also used by the people of the Amazon. They mix it with Protium heptaphyllum resin, Copaifera langsdorffii oil, and Dipteryx odorata seeds. Then, the mixture would be diluted in boiling water before being inhaled to decongest the airways. In Nepal, the hallucinogenic properties of rhododendron honey make it used in shamanic rituals.

2.2. Does bee breeding threaten the traditional gathering and hunting/trapping practices?

22The points cloud shows that traditional bee practices tend to disappear or even disappear as breeding techniques become more rational (Figure 4, see next page). Artificial swarming can lead to the abandonment of hunting practices because (stingless) beekeepers no longer need to spend much time locating bee colonies to maintain their bee population. Genetic selection also promotes greater vigilance in bee population, as wild swarms could alter their character traits. In theory, the chronology would suggest that bee breeding was preceded by bee colonies hunting, itself preceded by honey gathering. In other words, the lack of understanding or no sense of having a duty of care for animals could explain to the perpetuation of hunting practices. It is in these terms that the keepers of stingless bees we met around Lake Amanã speak for themselves. They expressed remorse because they have destroyed bee colonies before when they could have easily transferred bee colonies in hive boxes. However, the end of hunting in the Amazon is very unlikely, because it is a pillar for local cultural identity. The transition to a specialization of stingless beekeeping such as in the city of Chapecó, though, seems credible about stingless bees in Cuba and Peru.

Figure 4. The traditional bee practices tend to disappear as beekeeping management practices become more rational

Figure 4. The traditional bee practices tend to disappear as beekeeping management practices become more rational

On the X-axis, the index values of gathering or hunting/trapping practices are shown; on the Y-axis, the index values of (stingless) beekeeping.

23In Annapurna, there are still extremely codified gathering practices, where are intertwined religious beliefs and ethnic identity. The media coverage of honey harvesting is a brake on the development of modern beekeeping in the sense that the migration of Apis laboriosa, for example, leads villagers to accept the abandon of their colonies fatalistically and to destroy all combs. The large quantity of wild honey harvested and the modest local consumption do not encourage either to rationalize the breeding of Apis cerana. Besides, modern beekeeping relies on the use of a divisible hive to separate the brood nest from the honey reserves. Climatic local conditions enhance traditional hives, particularly wall hives. Beekeeping also requires knowledge, costs money, and it involves practices that run counter to the gathering traditions to which the villagers are very attached. For all these reasons, it is difficult and probably not desirable to force consideration for changing the local practices.


24Our basis of ethnozoological surveys shows how bee practices are part of a more comprehensive framework than just a desire to gather honey, to hunt or keep bees. Here, men and women perpetuate traditions because, in their communities, it is a basic pillar of identity. There, they slowly make them evolve to the benefit of bee breeding. Elsewhere, they turn away from these traditions. In a very schematic way, the evolution of bee practices ends with modern beekeeping, and hunting and gathering are relegated to activities of another age. In Judaeo-Christian thought, domestication occupies a high position in the scale of values, and it expresses the human a feeling of superiority over animals. This idealized evolution implies taking into account the biological requirements and characteristics of the species. However, for some species, as we have seen, domestication is utopian, which may explain the maintenance of very old gathering and hunting techniques.

25The relative technicality of modern beekeeping can discourage the introduction of new beekeeping practices, as it can also be a way to enhance evolution compared to other bee owners. In this respect, Internet access has played a decisive role. Most of the hunters of stingless bee colonies or erstwhile gatherers have trained themselves in bee breeding, and they have become aware of their impact on the entomofauna. Nevertheless, it would be incorrect to combine “technicality” and “modernity”, as such, traditional practices represent elements of our intangibles cultural heritage.

Haut de page


Bahuchet, S. (1992). Dans la forêt d’Afrique Centrale – les Pygmées Aka et Baka, Peeters-selaf, Paris.

Cortopassi-Laurino M, Imperatriz-Fonseca VL, Roubik DW, Dollin A, Heard T, et al. (2006). Global meliponiculture: challenges and opportunities, Apidologie, 37(2): 275-292.

Crane, E. (1999). The world history of beekeeping and honey hunting, Routledge, Londres.

Crittenden, A. (2011). The importance of honey consumption in human evolution”, Food and foodway, 19(4): 257-273.

Chuttong, B., Somana, W., Burgett, M. (2019). Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata) Rafter beekeeping in Southern Thailand”, Bee World, 96(3): 66-68.

De Largy Healy, J. (2011). « “Murayana va à Garma cette année !” : cérémonies publiques et rituels contemporains du nord-est de la Terre d’Arnhem (Australie), Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 132(1) : 123-134.

Estienne, V., Stephens, C., Boesch, C. (2017). Extraction of honey from underground bee nest by central African chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes)”, In Loango National Park, Gabon: Techniques and individual differences’, America Journal of primatology: 1-14.

McLennan, M.R. (2011). Tool-use to obtain honey by chimpanzee at Bulindi: New record from Uganda”, Primates, 52: 315-322.

Kajobe, R. et D.R. Roubik (2006). Honey-making bee colony abundance and predation by apes and humans in a Uganda Forest Reserve”, Biotopica, 38: 210-218.

Perichon, S., Heard T., Schouten C. (2020). Perceptions of keepers of Stingless bees (Tetragonula, Austroplebeia) regarding Aboriginal beliefs and practices in Australia, Journal of Apicultural Research.

Perichon, S. et C. Bhatta (2019). Honey Gathering (Apis laboriosa) and Beekeeping (A. cerana) in the Annapurna Conservation Area - Nepal”, Bee World, 96(3): 69-74.

Perichon Le Rouzic, S., May Steward, A., Rodriguez da Silva J., Paz Rocha F. (2016). « Techniques de chasse et d’extraction de nids d’abeilles sans dard dans la Réserve d’Amana (Amazonie, Brésil) », Études caribéennes, 35,

Perichon Le Rouzic, S., Lóriga Peña, W., Demedio Lorenzo J. (2014). « L’élevage desabeilles mélipones sur l’île de Cuba : une enquête ethnozoologique réalisée dans la plaine du rio Mayabeque et la forêt de la Sierra Rosario », Études caribéennes, 27-28, DOI :

Perichon Le Rouzic, S., Ribbi Jaffé, R., José Guester, C. (2013). « L’élevage des abeilles sylvestres (Apidés : Meliponinés) en milieu urbain : une nouvelle activité de loisir ou un commerce de miel (Chapeco/Santa Catarina, Brésil) », Cahiers Agricultures, 23(6) : 366-373.

Perichon, S. (2013). « De l’élevage des abeilles mélipones à l’apiculture moderne : une enquête ethnozoologique réalisée dans les forêts tropicales sèches au Pérou », Cahiers Agricultures, 22-2, 96-103.

Posey, D.A. (1983). “Keeping of stingless bees by the Kayapó Indians of Brazil”, Journal of Ethnology, 3:1.

Schouten, C., Lloyd, D., Ansharyani, I., Salminah, M., Somerville, D., and Stimpson, K. (2020). “The role of honey hunting in supporting subsistence livelihoods in Sumbawa, Indonesia”, Geographical Research, 58: 64 – 76.

Spottiswoode, C., Begg, K., Begg C. (2016). Reciprocal signaling in honeyguide-human mutualism”, Journal of Sciences, 353: 387-389.

Terashima, H. (2008). Honey and holidays: the interactions mediated by honey between Efe hunter-gatherers and lese farmers in the Ituri forest, African study Monograph, 25:123-134.

Underwood, B.A. (1990). Seasonal nesting cycle and migration patterns of the Himalayan honey bee, Apis laboriosa, National Geographic Research, 6(3): 276-290.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Study sites
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Titre Figure 2. Example of bee species breeding
Crédits a) Melipona quadrifasciata, b) Tetragonisca angustula, c) M. mondory, d) M. beecheii, e) M. mimetica, f) Plebeia emerina
Fichier image/jpeg, 189k
Titre Table2. The report of grid results on the situations
Fichier image/jpeg, 382k
Titre Figure 3. Keepers of stingless bees, hunters of honey bee colonies and honey gatherers
Fichier image/jpeg, 189k
Légende a) honey extracted from the pots by the use of a syringe (Las Terrazas, Cuba); b) the breeding of Scharziana quadripunctata, a honey bee species nests underground (Chapecó, Brazil); c) hive boxes suspended under a roof (San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba); d) transfer next to a hive box (Santo Estavao, Brazil); e) hive boxes with electric heating (Chapecó, Brazil); f) a passive transfer in a stingless beehive (Brisbane, Australia); g) a tasting of honeys of Tetragonula carbonaria (Brisbane, Australia); h) a gatherer with the equipment needed to harvest wild honey from Apis laboriosa (Bhujung, Nepal); i) a cliff where three colonies of Apis laboriosa built their comb (Bhujung, Nepal).
Fichier image/jpeg, 215k
Titre Figure 4. The traditional bee practices tend to disappear as beekeeping management practices become more rational
Légende On the X-axis, the index values of gathering or hunting/trapping practices are shown; on the Y-axis, the index values of (stingless) beekeeping.
Fichier image/jpeg, 45k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Samuel Perichon, « Honey Gatherers, Bee Hunters/Trappers, and Keepers of (Stingless) Bees in the World - Ethnozoological surveys in Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Nepal, and Australia (2012-2019) », Études caribéennes [En ligne], 45-46 | Avril-Août 2020, mis en ligne le 15 août 2020, consulté le 26 septembre 2020. URL : ; DOI :

Haut de page


Samuel Perichon

Department of Geography and Planning, Rennes 2 University (France) –

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus d’Études caribéennes sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Revue soutenue par l’Institut des Sciences Humaines et Sociales du CNRS
  • Logo ERIHPLUS (European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences)
  • Logo DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)
  • Logo Université des Antilles
  • OpenEdition Journals
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search