Oku honey is produced in Cameroon in the Kilum Ijim forest on the summits of Mt. Oku. It is primarily noted for its color, which is white to cream, while most other African honeys are reddish or dark. The taste can be described as light, sweet, slightly acidic, with notes of grape juice and citrus. Oku honey has a sweet, creamy and slightly grainy texture.
The Kilum Ijim is a mountain forest between 2000 and 3000 m above sea level that covers an area of 20,000 ha and offers exceptional biodiversity, with rich flora and endemic birds. In this forest, the bees do not live spontaneously; beekeepers will carry and install hives after the bees first inhabit them in the lower plain. The qualities of honey are directly linked to the forest and especially two plant species whose flowers are pollinated by bees, namely Schefflera abyssinica and Nuxia congesta.
The production technique involves multiple steps. First the hives are built. Then, the swarms of bees are captured. Colonization of the hives takes place between September and April. New hives are placed in the plain, and then moved to the forest between November and March, and old hives that have been used in the past are also left in the Kilum Ijim forest. When ready for collection, the honey is harvested and naturally filtered.
Oku honey production has traditionally been an activity practiced individually and by men. The honey is mainly sold by cooperative associations, and has been collected for generations. It is also appreciated for its medicinal value. In the 19th century it served as a trading item for palm oil. This particular honey is rare and dependent on the unique ecosystem of the Kilum Ijim forest. More than half of the forest was lost to wildfires, conversion to farmland, and logging between 1956 and 2001.