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.
The producers are also assisted by techinical experts from Conapi. Since 2009 the Wenchi Volcano Honey has been part of the Honeys of Ethiopia network, a project with the aim of supporting the best artisan honeys of Ethiopia; symbols of the richness of the local biodiversity.
Wenchi (Wonchi), Oromia region
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Asmelash Dagne Datiko
Tel. +251 910076630