cover.jpgPak Teh is a traditional honey hunter who scales the tropical Tualang tree with heights up to70 metres in Pedu Lake in northern Malaysia. His respect for nature and traditional rituals or beliefs of the honey gathering process makes him a hero of an unusual kind. Because Pak Teh and his grandchildren adhere strictly to the cultural practices inherited for generations, the bees keep returning to the Pedu Lake to nest and produce their sweet nectar.

Turun Hitam Manis, turun dengan cahaya bintang, turun dengan lemah-lembutnya.
(Come down, Hitam Manis, come down with the light of the stars, come down with gentleness.)

The minute details of the illustrations and the insight into a hidden world offered by the story line will charm children and adults of all ages. The refrain above is one of the chants to lure the bees to the ground before the honey hunters can cut the honey combs from the trees. “Hitam Manis” refers to the bees while the “light of the stars” is actually embers from a torch of liana roots to scare away the bees. They are never referred to directly during the honey harvesting process and this taboo is observed by Pak Teh and his team.

The unique nature of Pak Teh’s relationship with the giant honey bees (Apis dorsata) is chronicled in a children’s book by two Americans after a decade-long painstaking research – Dr Stephen Buchmann, entomologist and environmentalist, and Diana Cohn, an award-winning children’s book writer. The book is also beautifully illustrated by Paul Mirocha who captured the awe and childlike wonder he felt for the tropical rainforest with precision and talent.