Congo – Honey Season

music: Mbuti honey song


The Mbuti pygmies of central Africa are known for their love of music and their distinctive style of singing. They save this song for a very special time of the year. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

The Mbuti are nomadic people who move through the forest in small bands, living in camps and occasionally working in villages. But every so often, the rhythm of their lives changes, as many of the rainforest trees come into flower. It’s honey season.

“The bands break up into small groups and will disperse over large areas of forest, looking for hives and basically, for a period of a month or even two, living primarily off of honey, and the grubs of bees, which they’ll cook up into a meal something like scrambled eggs, and eat with honey.”

John Hart is a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. He has studied and lived among the Mbuti for many years.

“These hives are often quite high up, well over a hundred feet. And often precariously perched. They’ll be in hollows in the trees and the Mbuti will climb the trees even moving out onto limbs, far from the trunk and in some cases moving from one canopy of a smaller tree into another one. And once up there, in some cases tying themselves into the trees they’ll smoke the hive, and open it with hand-held axes, and as bees are swarming around them, extract honey and putting it into a basket made of leaves and lowering it down to the ground, sometimes as much as 30 or 40 pounds of honey and comb and pollen and grubs will out of one hive. This is the time that proves for them in their own minds how they really are children of the forest and they are taken care of by the forest. It’s a time of year of huge abundance and great joy.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Congo - Honey Season

Honey season is a time of joy and music for Africa's Mbuti pygmies.
Air Date:10/18/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

music: Mbuti honey song


The Mbuti pygmies of central Africa are known for their love of music and their distinctive style of singing. They save this song for a very special time of the year. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

The Mbuti are nomadic people who move through the forest in small bands, living in camps and occasionally working in villages. But every so often, the rhythm of their lives changes, as many of the rainforest trees come into flower. It's honey season.

"The bands break up into small groups and will disperse over large areas of forest, looking for hives and basically, for a period of a month or even two, living primarily off of honey, and the grubs of bees, which they'll cook up into a meal something like scrambled eggs, and eat with honey."

John Hart is a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. He has studied and lived among the Mbuti for many years.

"These hives are often quite high up, well over a hundred feet. And often precariously perched. They'll be in hollows in the trees and the Mbuti will climb the trees even moving out onto limbs, far from the trunk and in some cases moving from one canopy of a smaller tree into another one. And once up there, in some cases tying themselves into the trees they'll smoke the hive, and open it with hand-held axes, and as bees are swarming around them, extract honey and putting it into a basket made of leaves and lowering it down to the ground, sometimes as much as 30 or 40 pounds of honey and comb and pollen and grubs will out of one hive. This is the time that proves for them in their own minds how they really are children of the forest and they are taken care of by the forest. It's a time of year of huge abundance and great joy."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.