Filed Under (Ethnomusicology, General, Malian culture) by Rob on 06-04-2010

Travelling back from Dogon country recently, we stopped for a picnic by these baobab trees:

I love baobabs with their HUGE trunks and sinuous branches – fabulous, majestic trees! The pod of the baobab is often used as a percussion instrument in West Africa, including amongst the Dogon:

Also, remember this post of my workshop with the Gangam people of Togo? Here’s the photo and here’s the YouTube video of the lady playing her baobab pod – amazing stuff!

Anyway, back to our picnic! Baobabs are also handy for shade from the hot sun, so we parked up next to one but moved again rather quickly, because of this:

It’s a bees nest in the tree! All quite peaceful at the time, but I wasn’t about to risk eating my sandwiches within its range. There are tales of folks who’ve received literally 100’s of stings in such situations and there was no handy lake or river for miles!

That said, there were wooden pegs in the trunk as a ‘ladder’ up to the hive (you can see a couple of them in the photo), so local folk obviously enjoy the honey. As the well-known African proverb goes:

“If you want to eat the honey, you’ve first got to deal with the bees.”

Have a closer look (but only through a zoom lens) :

There you go! Thanks for reading.

1 Comment posted on "Sweet to look at, but bee careful!"
John Parkinson on April 12th, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

i have never seen a beehive in an ‘upside-down tree’ anywhere in the 4 corners of Africa, rob! did you know that the bole of the tree often contains water? The Sudanese make a delicious cream of tartar drink out of the pod seeds – v. refreshing. Hope that your locals know about this…