Gilles Nicolet

Climbing to the top

The Gbaya honey hunters knew how to harvest honey without resorting to fire or smoke. Everywhere else in the world honey hunters use fire to subdue the bees and steal their honey, but the Gbaya instead knew how to use a powerful narcotic (taken from a local plant) that could temporarily stun the bees and deprive them of their collective defensive powers. Since not all bees were fully drugged, the Gbaya still felt the need to protect themselves by wearing an armour made of straw. This unique technique had its origin in the past, when, during wars, the Gbaya were forced to hide in the bush for long periods of time without being able to cook, or the smoke from their fires would have alerted enemies to their presence. Honey is an highly nutritive food that one can survive on to the exclusion of any other foods and so by being able to harvest honey without smoke the Gbaya could survive undetected in the wild for months at a time, until the war had passed.

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