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Ethiopian Wild White Honey

Ethiopian White Honey Drought

White honey is a distinctive white colored honey produced by bees in Ethiopia’s Mountains of Tigray. White honey production from Ethiopia is declining because climate change affecting the Ethiopian honey bee production.

Article Topics
Ethiopian culture, White Honey, Africa's top honey producer, Beehives of Ethiopia, Tigray mountain flowers, Climate change

Ethiopian White Honey Bee

Ethiopia is Africa’s largest producer of honey producing nearly 24 percent of Africa’s total honey production. Collecting and selling honey and other bee products produced in homes and home gardens is common throughout the country. Beekeeping is an ancient tradition in Ethiopia, stretching back into the country’s early history between 3500 and 3000 B.C.

White honey is one of Ethiopia’s most unique and flavorful honey produced in the northern part of Ethiopia Mountains of Tigray. Ethiopian white honey develops its unique color and taste from a variety of native plants growing in the Tigray mountain region.

White honey is growing scarce as bees abandon Ethiopian Tigray mountain region due to drought. Bees are traveling further distances in search of flowers to pollinate. Bees need two different kinds of food. One is honey made from nectar, the sugary juice that collects in the heart of the flowers. The other comes from the anthers of flowers, which contain numerous small grains called pollen. Just as flowers, have different colors, so do their pollen.

Due to drought the native plants bees usually pollinate local Tigray flowers and plants producing white colored honey. However, bees are traveling further distances in search of flowers to pollinate, creating yellow colored honey.  Because a honeybee starts the honey making process by visiting a flower and gathering some of its nectar, this affects the color of honey.

Ethiopia is heavily dependent on agriculture; more than 90 percent of Ethiopia’s honey is still produced using traditional hives. Many beekeepers lack modern technologies and operate on a small scale. Climate change will inevitably have a greater impact on people's lives in Ethiopia and Africa at large. Vanishing white honey is just the beginning of the permanent changing climate of Ethiopia. 

White honey of Ethiopia Mountains of Tigray
White honey of Ethiopia Mountains of Tigray

Colors of Honey

Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honeybees from the nectar of blossoms or from the secretion of living parts of plants or excretions of plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which honeybees collect, transform and combine with specific substances of their own, store and leave in the honeycomb to ripen and mature.

White honey is the most important primary product of beekeeping from both a culinary and an economic point of view. It was also the first bee product used by humankind in ancient times. The history of the use of honey is parallel to the history of man and in virtually every culture.
Proof can be found of its use as a food source and as a symbol employed in religious, magic and healing ceremonies. An appreciation for honey as the only concentrated form of sugar available to man in most parts of the world. The same cultural richness has produced an equally colorful variety of uses of honey in other products.

Color in liquid honey varies from clear and colorless to dark amber or black. The various honey colors are basically all nuances of yellow amber, like different dilutions or concentrations of caramelized sugar, which has been used traditionally as a color standard.

Honey color varies with the botanical origin, age and storage conditions, but transparency or clarity depends on the number of suspended particles such as pollen. Less common honey colors are white, bright yellow, reddish chestnut, grey and green. Once crystallized, honey turns lighter in color because the glucose crystals are white. Darker kinds of honey are more often for industrial use, while lighter kinds of honey are marketed for culinary dishes.

The color and the flavor of honey is different depending on the nectar source of bee honeybees. Generally, light-colored honey is milder in taste and dark-colored honey is stronger in taste. Bees may visit flowers such as sunflowers or herbs such as Rosemary or a combination of the two. Bees collecting pollen from cornflowers make greenish honey; the honey has a slightly bitter aftertaste and the smell of almonds. Heather honey has a reddish color and is very thick, bees that collect pollen from maple flowers produce maple honey, and this honey can be pink in color to yellow-green. 

Mint honey it's also reddish and color and is prized by consumers in Western Europe. Honeybees collect pollen from blueberry bushes to create light-colored honey with a reddish tint. Bees visiting the dandelion flower produce bright yellow honey; it has a strong smell and a sharp acidic taste. A unique honey is tobacco honey which is produced in areas where tobacco is cultivated the honey is light-colored to dark brown and has a unique aroma of tobacco. Of course, white honey is the rarest honey of all where bees collect pollen from plants on the Ethiopian Tigray Mountain.

Most popular honey flavors according to the Asheville Bee Charmer

African honey shop
African honey shop

What is honey good for other than eating

Honey is said to help with better physical performance and resistance to exhaustion; it also promotes higher mental efficiency. It is therefore used by both the healthy and the sick for any kind of weakness, particularly in the case of digestive or assimilative problems. Improved growth of non-breast fed newborn infants; improved calcium fixation in bones and curing anemia and anorexia may all be attributed to some nutritional benefit or stimulation from eating honey.

In many different climates, honey is a well-known remedy for colds and mouth, throat or bronchial irritations and infections. The benefits, apart from antibacterial effects, are assumed to relate to the soothing and relaxing effect of honey. Honey may be useful for chronic and infectious intestinal problems such as constipation, duodenal ulcers, and liver disturbances.

Honey is used in moisturizing and nourishing cosmetic creams, but also in pharmaceutical preparations applied directly on open wounds, sores, bedsores, ulcers, varicose ulcers, and burns. It helps against infections, promotes tissue regeneration, and reduces scarring also in its pure, unprocessed form. If applied immediately, honey reduces blistering of burns and speeds regeneration of new tissue. Honey is also a fundamental ingredient in some medicinal wines and kinds of vinegar. Pure honey applied three times per day has been successfully used on many sores and abrasions.

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