Wenchi Volcano Honey Ethiopia
A few hours west of Addis Ababa, the road begins to climb up between pastures and fields of grains and ensete (a tree similar to the banana tree, whose leaves and roots are used). After a while it reaches the magnificent landscape of Wenchi, a crater with steep green sides and a deep blue lake at the bottom. In recent years, this area has been home to an association that organizes ecotourism activities and manages natural resources in the area of the volcano. It organizes activities such as 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 a popular tourist destination for many years.
The honey from the area is collected at the end of the rainy season, between October and December. It is yellow-amber in color with a very fine texture. Its aroma is intense with a floral fragrance and notes of lightly roasted caramel. The main flowers identified are Egynia abyssinica (Kosso) and Erica arborea (Hasta).
Until now, the honey has mainly been produced using traditional hives. These are large cylinders made of interwoven bamboo covered by banana-like leaves, closed at one end by a circular piece of wood that allows bees to enter through two lateral openings. The other end is closed with straw.
The particular subspecies of bee present in this area has a strong migratory instinct and little attachment to the nest; it is also very aggressive. For these reasons the beekeepers have to collect the honey during hours of darkness and use a lot of smoke, which partly compromises the quality of the product. Once 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 before, as tradition dictates, the person who collected the honey and brought it home has the first taste.
Until 2010 the Presidium beekeepers were part of 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 needed to practice modern apiculture, it has organized training courses and improved the final presentation of the honey, now sold in labeled glass jars. The producers are also assisted by technical experts from Conapi in drawing up production rules 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
Regione Emilia Romagna
A group of 40 beekeepers
Zerihun Dessalgn Hailemariam
Tel. +251 911214454