|Quách Kim Y with her protection suit. — Photo danviet.vn|
CÀ MAU — Wasp hive hunting is a dangerous job so usually only men dare to do it, but in the forest land of U Minh Hạ, there is a woman who chooses this profession to make a living.
She is Quách Kim Y, 28, living in Nguyễn Phích Commune of U Minh District, Cà Mau Province.
Y’s family is so poor that they do not have their own land to build a house. The family with 10 members of three generations lives in a tiny house on the land of a relative.
Kim Y dropped out of school in ninth grade to work as a sales assistant and house cleaner.
"My mother is sick all year round and can't do anything. My father and brother go out to fish every day, the family's income is quite precarious, so I have to find a job to support my family," Kim Y told Dân Việt newspaper.
At the age of 22, she got married and moved to her husband’s hometown. Her husband is a fisherman and his income is not stable. The life of the young couple was very difficult.
In order to have money to pay for life, she went to the forest to set up traps and nets to catch mice and birds.
"While setting traps in the forest, I saw many hives of honey bees so I switched to bee hunting for honey,” Kim Y said.
In the process of hunting honey bees, she discovered many wasp hives, some of which were very large. Kim Y wondered how to hunt wasps because she knew the price of wasp pupae was very high, from VNĐ350,000 to VNĐ750,000 (US$15-32) per kilo.
She surfed the internet to learn how to catch wasps. Then she bought a protective suit for VNĐ400,000 (US$17) and started the job.
"I thought that just by hunting a few hives, I got my investment back. So I decided to enter a new profession of hunting wasps," she said.
So far, she has been hunting wasps for more than two years.
Wasps are extremely dangerous bees, their venom can be deadly.
Every day at 4am, she wakes up and goes to the forest to look for bees, and then sells pupae as early as possible.
Sharing about wasp hunting techniques, Kim Y said: "This profession must be self-taught. After a period of working in the profession, I now have the experience of looking at the direction of the wind to guess where the wasp hives are.
“When going into the forest, I have to pay attention to observe if I see a few bees flying around looking for food, then follow its direction to find the hives. In the dry season, you have to go to an area with water to observe bees getting water, from which you can guess the location of the hives," she said.
Every time she goes to the forest to hunt bees, she has to check the protection suit carefully because with only one tear in her suit, wasps can enter and sting.
"Once, due to my carelessness, I did not detect a wasp nest, so I stepped on it. The bees came out and stung me so much I fainted,” she recalled.
“Fortunately, someone discovered me and called my family to bring me to the hospital in time. After that, I had to take a break for a month and thought about giving up hunting wasps because it was too dangerous, and I have small children to care for,” she said.
“But then, because of the economic burden, I continued the job,” she said.
Because this profession brings a good income, more and more people are engaging in wasp hunting, so now Kim Y has to go deep into forests and wild places where there are few human footprints.
"Depending on the terrain, I go by motorbike or canoe. Sometimes when I see wasps flying, I follow them for kilometres wading in flood water and slippery mud," she said.
Wasp hunting can be done all year round, and sometimes Kim Y can hunt more than 10 hives a month. If anyone tells her there is a beehive, she will go whether near or far.
"This job is also very precarious. One year, only in January, the bee pupae can be sold at a high price at VNĐ750,000 per kilo, while the rest of the year, it is around VNĐ350,000 per kilo only,” she said.
“Sometimes, each trip yields several hives, but also sometimes I return empty-handed," she said.
Because she has the tools to catch bees and protection suits, Kim Y also helps local people dismantle bee hives in warehouses and gardens.
Talking about her dream, Kim Y said: "I try to save money to rent a forest to raise bees for honey. At that time, I will earn a stable income to take care of my children and face less danger. But now I am doing the job because this is the only way I can earn money,” she said.
Kim Y said she is practicing to be a “youtuber” hoping to have more income.
Although she appears gentle, Kim Y is a strong forest flower, refusing to surrender to fate, accepting danger with the job of hunting wasps.— VNS