Below, behold the intrepid Riddled honey collectors' lighter-than-air ascent of the inaccessible vertiginous cliff-faces... this is the only way to reach the overhangs from which the zom-bees suspend their curious skull-shaped combs.* The brain-shaped balloons deflect the defensive aggression of the Cordyceps-infected social insects (perhaps it is a kind of professional courtesy). Then it is time for the brew-master, whose skill lies in heating the honey enough to deactivate the fungal spores while retaining its psychoactive properties.** Just one of the esoteric ingredients of Christmas Ale, accept no imitations!
Some colonies of Apis laboriosa find particularly well-defended locations for their hives...
Others are out in the open.
If word got out about the picturesque nature of the honey collection, we would be inundated with documentary-makers and National Geographic photographers, and droves of tourists brandishing cash and copies of Lonely Planet, wanting an authentic ethnic non-touristic experience. That leads quickly to honey-hunts out of season and dwindling bee numbers; then corrupt officials declare those particular cliffs to be state property, to ensure that none of the tourist money winds up in the hands of locals. This always happens; it must be a tradition, or an old charter.
procurement proceeds along boring mainstream lines, and only you -- the select few lucky readers of Riddled -- know the truth.
* It's always the same; you wait and wait for an image search for "skull honey-combs", then three come along at once.
Earlier hives here and here.
-------------------------------------------------------Via Boing-Boing we are reminded that when there is honey contaminated with grayanotoxins from rhododendron flowers, the airheads and hipsters and suburban shamans will not be far away, eager for fresh-forged traditions about its "medicinal, aphrodisiac, and hallucinogenic properties". And there will be a commercial scramble for 'medicinal honey' -- because Traditional Chinese Medicine -- to hasten the degradation of the resource.
If only these nouveau-riche nimrods, bored with fugu, scouring the world for prestigious new consumables, could be convinced that New Zealand Tutu Honey is the new Himalayan Pink Salt.
The power of climatic anomalies to set off strange irrational phobias has not yet been fully researched. Preliminary statistical analyses have found positive associations between premature Monsoons and 'fear of levitating blobs of sperm'
[below, left], and between global warming and 'fear of floral hybridisation'