Bore is located in the southern Ethiopian highlands of Guji, home to the Guji indigenous community. The large part of Guji community lives at around 3,000 meters above sea level. They farm cattle and sheep and grow grains (barley and wheat), legumes and ensete (the Ethiopian false banana) and they have long raised bees for their honey.
Festivals, traditional ceremonies, initiation rites for youth and songs are dedicated to the ancient tradition of apiculture, but it is also an integral part of everyday life¬. Honey is a food, a medicine and an ingredient in beverages like mead, boka in the local dialect.
The long rainy season, lasting around seven months every year, means plenty of flowers in the forest. The bees can work for a long time and they produce two types of honey (one white and the other dark and amber colored, depending on the season) in traditional hives known as gagura.
As in much of southern Ethiopia, the gagura are long cylinders hung from the branches of trees at different heights. They are made by weaving together straw, vines, bamboo and banana leaves, or by carving out the very lightwood of korch, a tree with distinctive orange flowers.
The honey is collected in the middle of the night just once a year, between April and May, by climbing up into the trees with a rope and smoking out the hives to calm the bees. It is collected into two separate containers, one for the darker honey and one for the white honey. Sticks are used to extract the liquid from the honeycomb and separate it from the wax.
The white honey comes from the flowers of ‘gatame’ (Schefflera abyssinica) and has a creamy, melting, slightly buttery texture. The flavor is sweetly vegetal, with a spicy note in the finish and no trace of smoke.
The dark honey is obtained from several different flowers, primarily from African Prune (Prunus africana (miessa in Afan Oromo), Vernonia amydalina (dhebicha) and Hagenia abyssinica (hèto), and at times is crystallized.
Almost all of the white honey is sold locally, in the town of Bore, while the dark honey is collected for domestic consumption and for use in medicines and rituals.
Honey is always offered to welcome guests and during celebrations, served with other traditional foods: akayi /kollo (toasted barley grains), barley flour with butter, milk served in traditional carved gourds and curdled milk mixed with barley flour.
The aim of the Presidium is to promote a high-quality honey, properly packaged and labeled, on the national market, and organize training, technical assistance, help with buying equipment and marketing for the producers.
Wate village, Bore district, Guji highlands, Oromia region
Presidium supported by
Bule Hora University
Gololcha Balli Gobena