With each move toward the hive, the holds get smaller and farther apart. He moves slowly but with confidence until only 10 feet separate him from his quarry. This final section of loose, wet rock offers hand- and footholds no bigger than Mauli’s fingertips, and since he is not attached to a safety rope, it would be certain death should he lose his grip. Adding to his challenge, he carries a 25-foot bamboo pole hooked over one shoulder, and he pinches a bundle of smoldering grass between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. A wispy trail of smoke drifts upward from his hand toward the agitated bees. If air currents cooperate, the smoke may engulf the bees and confuse them slightly as he approaches.