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A place where wild bees are considered treasures

In order to maintain the tradition of printing brocade skirts with beeswax, which has existed for hundreds of years, generations of people in Vai Khao hamlet, Quang Thanh commune (Nguyen Binh, Cao Bang) have protected the wild bees. about 60 – 80 nests/year in the forest of the village.

Giant beehives on the cliffs

Every spring, every swarm of bees returns to nest on the rocky cliffs. When in the fall they fly away again, the bees love to leave waxy shells. Every mid-June to early-July of the lunar calendar, choosing a good day and month, the Dao Tien people in Vai Khao hamlet organize to harvest honeycombs.

The people in the village are divided into 3 groups, each group is responsible for different tasks, the group collects firewood, cooks rice, and the most difficult one is poking around for beeswax. Before taking the bees, the witch doctor will see the auspicious days before going to get the beeswax. On the day of going to get the nest, the whole village gathers from early morning at the cultural house, each family contributes 1 chicken, 2 bowls of rice, 1 bowl of sour bamboo shoots, votive money and 3 sticks of incense for the magician to bring to the worshiping ceremony. .

Arriving at the dome of the cave, the sorcerer presented the offerings and began to perform the ceremony, informing the river god and the mountain god about the event that would take place, praying to the gods to bless the group to get lucky beeswax. When the first worshiping procedure was completed, the whole group was allowed to climb up to get the beeswax.

Mr. Ly Phu Sang, a longtime magician of Vai Khao hamlet, Quang Thanh commune said: Every year, in the spring, the bees come back to nest on the cliffs. The people of Vai Khao village have a custom forbidding the destruction of beehives for honey. Everyone in the neighborhood told each other to look after each other so as not to let other people, woodworkers come to collect honey, because if honey is taken, the bees will immediately leave, next year they won’t come back to nest again.

Magician Ly Phu Sang added: “This is a ceremony that dates back to the olden days when the old men did it before they could get this beeswax to print on their skirts. This ceremony means that the autumn bee is gone, I pray for all the good things, let everyone protect this forest together, so that next year the bees will come back to bring all the luck to the people here.”

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Bees love to nest on rocky cliffs 20m above the ground. (Photo: Chung Vu)

The rare custom of worshiping bees

In order to get beeswax, people have to cut down the longest apricot and currant trees, use a strong rope to connect the trees growing near the cave’s arch to form a long ladder so they can climb up to the nearest, using the tree pokes the hive.

To reach the place where bees like to nest, the group has to cross the forest and cross streams for an hour. Looking up from the ground, looking up at the dome of the cave about 20m above the ground, bees love to fly away, leaving dozens of beeswax nests, dangling like cow bibs, with elliptical nests of different sizes. There are large nests with a diameter of more than 1m.

It must be said that bees love to nest very high, to poke a nest is not simple, it requires health to be able to climb. The long bamboo poles are tied together, along with the supporting zipper, each poking operation must be correct to make the hive fall.

To poke a beehive is not easy. Therefore, young, healthy, resilient men are trusted to climb up to get the nest. With a height of more than 20m, just a little mistake can affect life.

The long bamboo poles are tied together, along with the supporting zipper, each poking operation must be correct to make the hive fall. At that time, the women in the cave gathered and brought home beeswax to cook for wax.

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The large honeycombs are more than 1m in diameter. (Photo: Chung Vu)

Ms. Ban Thi Lien, Vai Khao village shared: Since childhood, she often followed her parents to pick up beeswax. Although the road to the honeycomb is quite long and the road is difficult, everyone who joins the delegation to collect beeswax is very happy when the result is many large beeswax nests. Hopefully in the spring there will be more bees to nest.

After bringing the beehives back, people will break the beeswax into small pieces and put them in a large cast iron pan to cook with water. Through many stages to her beeswax into pure, pure block. The final finished beeswax block must be smooth, golden yellow, concentrated, can be preserved for many years to be used gradually without deterioration. This beeswax will be used to print on the patterns of dresses and skirts of Dao Tien women.

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Pour the beeswax into a large cast iron pan and cook on a wood stove. (Photo: Chung Vu)

Preserving traditional cultural values

The Dao Tien people here have a very unique method of embroidering and printing patterns with beeswax. All women are proficient in the technique of printing geometric patterns, plants, flowers, birds, animals with beeswax on fabric to make elaborate costumes of Dao Tien women.

It is the unique culture and activities of the people in preserving and preserving traditional cultural values ​​that have helped Hoai Khao become a rendezvous for many tourists, a favorable condition for the development of this type of tourism. community calendar in the direction of efficiency and sustainability.

Coming to Hoai Khao in different seasons, visitors all have unforgettable experiences with the land rich in identity. In the summer, visitors can feel the fresh air of the highlands, zoom in on the green rice fields. In autumn, Hoai Khao puts on a brilliant appearance with a valley of golden rice laden with cotton.

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In order to get beeswax to print on the fabric, it takes a lot of time to go through many stages. (Photo: Chung Vu)

Vai Khao village is at an altitude of nearly 1,000m above sea level, 100% of households are Dao Tien ethnic group with many unique traditional cultural features, including the profession of printing patterns on fabric with beeswax and then dyeing indigo. Batik culture) is one of the cultural heritages of the people here.

Some Khao is located in the planning of Phja Oac – Phja Den National Park, so it is identified as a community cultural tourism village in Cao Bang. At the beginning of 2018, the motorway was opened to the village, creating favorable conditions for people to develop production, exchange goods as well as attract tourists from all over the world to visit and explore nature and people’s lives. indigenous people.

In order to protect the “one-of-a-kind” Vai Khao swarm associated with this very unique traditional art of printing, it is thought that the village needs to have a strict convention, which promotes good traditional values. beautiful in preserving and protecting culture, ecological environment, regulations and strict penalties for acts of destroying bee colonies, destroying the ecological environment.

Authorities at all levels and functional agencies are interested in the protection and rational exploitation of the cultural values ​​of Vai Khao village to serve the development of local tourism.

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