Monday, April 19, 2010

Apitherapy Popular in Ethiopia

White Honey Grows Scarce as Bees Abandon Ethiopia's Parched Peaks
Alex Duval Smith, The Observer, 4/18/2010

The truffle of the apiary world – rare white honey from Ethiopia's highest peaks – is in danger of disappearing, according to beekeepers in the Tigray region. "No rain for the flowers,'' said Ashenaf Abera as he stood on his rocky, parched slope in the northern Ethiopian region whose famine inspired Bob Geldof to stage Live Aid in 1985. "The bees need high-altitude flowers for the white honey. When they cannot find them, they go to other plants and produce yellow honey.''…

After coffee, gold and cowhide, bee products are major contributors to the economy, especially through exports to Italy, where white honey is considered a delicacy. Bees' products are the only export item produced by Tigray's impoverished 4.6 million people, whose region is said to be one of the worst-hit in the world by climate change.

Such is Ethiopians' love of honey that apitherapy clinics offer treatments for many ailments. The national drink is tej – honey mead.

Beekeepers are increasingly scrapping traditional mud hives for square box-like hives from Europe which produce a higher yield. "The bees will not make white honey in the modern hives, but at least with them we can obtain a decent yield of yellow honey,'' he said…

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