Beekeeping at 7000 ft: Nepal field work part 4

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:

2019-03-29 08.46.24

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:

2019-03-29 08.48.34-1

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:

2019-03-29 08.47.28

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.

7 thoughts on “Beekeeping at 7000 ft: Nepal field work part 4

  1. afrenchgarden

    Great photograph of the bees. I would presume Apis mellifera would survive in cared for hives as they survive long winters in Canada under the snow but it is probably out of their natural range. Amelia

  2. canopus56

    I have an general unrelated question. Are there any academic studies that discuss the impact of fall removal of leaf litter from urban and suburban lawns and gardens on pollinator diversity and population? There are many websites that give the general, commonplace and commonsense advice that leaving leaf litter in place results in observed pollinators overwintering, but no real academic studies. That small gardens in an urban environment enhance pollinator reproduction is document, e.g. Matteson, K.C. & Langellotto, G.A. Urban Ecosyst (2010) 13: 333. . But I am having problems finding any academic studies specifically on the impact of leaf litter removal in urban and suburban settings on pollinators. I guess that would be a hard natural experiment to implement. Would you have some references handy? Thank you. – Kurt Fisher, Salt Lake City, USA.

  3. Robby Velle

    Hey Jeff!
    You know things brother. I visited this place back in 2016 on my Nepal Motorcycle Tour. Tamang people are very generous and loving and the weather was amazing in winters. I hope Mellifera survives because as Einstein said “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live”
    Thanks for sharing. I am going to Tweet it. 🙂
    Also, check my website:, only if you want.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s