On the last day of field work, while we were waiting for a bus to take us back down to Kathmandu, I spotted some small bee hives next to one of the houses belonging to the local Tamang peoples:
With a few minutes to spare before the bus left, I quickly investigated and discovered that only one of the hives was actually in use:
But interestingly, the bees inside were the native Asiatic or eastern honeybee (Apis cerana) rather than the European or western honeybee (A. mellifera) that is more familiar in Europe. The bees are a bit smaller and more distinctively striped than their western counterpart:
There didn’t seem to be much around for the bees to forage on, just a few flowering mustard plants, so I suspect that they were travelling some distance to find nectar and pollen:
At this altitude of 2092 masl, or about 7000 feet, the winters are long and cold and the summers dry and hot, so the bees must be tough if they are kept there all year round. I wonder if A. mellifera would survive these conditions?
All too soon the bus driver sounded his horn and it was time to go; an interesting encounter with a bee species I’d not previously seen.