Wenchi Volcano Honey Ethiopia
A few hours west of Addis Ababa, the road climbs up between pastures and crops of grains and ensete (a tree similar to the banana tree whose leaves and roots are used) and suddenly comes upon the magnificent landscape of Wenchi, a crater with steep green sides and a deep blue lake at the bottom. This paradise in recent years is the location for an association that organizes ecotourism activities and manages natural resources in the area of the volcano. It particularly focuses on organizing horse treks around the slopes of the crater, lake trips in small wooden boats and visits to a monastery built on a small island. Thanks to its warm thermal waters, regarded as therapeutic and thus appreciated by the Ethiopians, Wenchi has been recognized as local turistic venue for many years.
The honey from the area, collected at the end of the rainy season, between October and December, is yellow-amber in color with a very fine texture; its aroma is intense with floral fragrance and notes of lightly roasted caramel. Creamy on the palate, it has medium acidity and is soft and fresh, thanks to the presence of a balsamic note. The main flowers identified are Egynia abyssinica (Kosso), and Erica arborea (Hasta).
The honey has until now mainly been produced using traditional hives. These are large cylinders made of interwoven bamboo covered by leaves of false banana and closed at one end by a circular piece of wood which allows bees to enter through two lateral openings. The other end is closed with straw.
The particular subspecies of apis (bee) present in this area—slightly smaller than our mellifera—has a strong migratory instinct, little attachment for the nest and is very aggressive. For this reason the beekeepers have to collect the honey during the hours of darkness and use a lot of smoke, partly compromising the quality of the product. When the honey has been extracted (using a wooden spatula, knife and bowl) the beekeepers bring the honey, still in its hive, back to the village and place it on a plate. Passers-by, children and family gather round. Tradition dictates that the person who collected the honey and brought it home has the first taste, before it is offered to everyone else.
Up until 2010 the Presidium beekeepers were part of the Weta (Wenchi Eco-Tourism Association), set up with the help of a project run by the German Cooperation Gtz to promote eco-tourism activities. Today, a group of 40 beekeepers have created an independent association called Wenchi Beekeepers Association. The presidium has helped the beekeepers to rationalize honey production so they can obtain a pure product, that is recognizable, of high quality and suitable for sale. To achieve this objective, it has provided the association with the necessary equipment in order to practice modern apiculture, has organized training courses and improved final presentation of the honey, now sold in glass labeled jars. The producers are also assisted by techinical experts from Conapi in drawing up rules of production to guarantee a honey that is good and with all the suitable characteristics to access a wider market. Since the Presidium has been set up, the beekeepers have also begun to collect wax.
Wenchi, Oromia Region
Presidium supported by
Antica Corte Pallavicina
A group of 40 beekeepers
Zerihun Dessalgn Hailemariam
Tel. +251 911214454