Bijakol Bitchi Honey

Ark of taste
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Bijakol Bitchi is a smooth and thick liquid honey that is collected from the East Garo hills in the district of Maghalaya, in northeastern India. The honey is produced by bees in orange orchards and has a sweet fruity taste and the incessant aroma of orange adds to much of its flavor. Apart from being consumed as a sweetener and an accompaniment to local snacks, the honey also possess medicinal value and is used particularly for chapped lips and lesions in the tongue. There are two types of bees that assist in acquiring the nectar: black honey bees and white honey bees. They are reared at the homes of beekeepers in Daribokgre and other Garo villages, in wooden boxes with covers made from either wood or tin that are removed by the beekeepers when the honey is to be extracted. In the wild the bees also build their colonies in stone caves or holes in trees. The honey that is taken from trees is extracted by splitting open the tree with an axe. The collection of honey is usually done in the month of April and May every year.

The rearing of honey bees has proved to be beneficial for years now for the Garo tribe who have for generations sold and bartered their high quality produce. According to most community members, the black honey bees collect nectar only from food flowers and so the production of honey is slower but much more tasty. These black bees are also more ferocious and many people are stung during honey collection. Smoke is used to drive the bees away from the hive during extraction and many of them die as a result. Some people also kill the queen bee and so their numbers in the wild are falling. It is now advised that honey should be collected without killing the queen so the colony can rebuild the hive and this is being done more and more often.  

Bijakol Bitchi is mostly used for home consumption however it is still available for sale in some village markets and between individuals. At the moment it is stored and sold in used liquor bottles however if better extraction equipment and packaging materials were available then sales would increase.

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Indigenous community:Garo