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Category: Honeys and Bee-related Products

Rira Honey


Indigenous/Tribal community: Arsi

The Rira area of southern central Ethiopia has a rich and diverse ecosystem. The Harenna forest is few kilometers away from where the producers of Rira honey are based. Because of this, the honey produced is on average linked to 25-35 different types of flowers that the bees can visit. Among these, the most highly valued are the: Garamba (Hypericum revolutum), Badesa (Syzygium guineense) and Hetoo (Hagenia abyssinica). The presence of these trees and their flowers make the honey of Rira unique, and impart a bitter taste and, most importantly, adding a medicinal value. Hetoo in particular is a multipurpose tree in the plant family of Rosaceae that grows up to 20 meters tall. It has been used medicinally in rural communities as a remedy for intestinal parasites, especially tapeworms, in both humans and ruminant livestock.

Honey is harvested once a year in the month of March. From one traditional hive, producers obtain an average of 5-10 kg of honey with wax. Members of the Rira honey producer's group have a minimum of 5-10 hives each, and mainly sell their honey and the nearest town of Dallo Manna, and other nearby towns such as Goba, Robe and Shashemanne. The honey is sold by the kilo, and prices vary depending on whether the honey is sold with the wax or, for a significantly higher price, with the wax filtered out.

Rira honey production is limited by one main problem: the variable water content of the honey in the hives. Because the bees will reopen previously closed cells to add new honey when new flowers come into flowering, it is difficult for the beekeepers to understand when the honey is at the best point for harvest. The presence of new honey means that there will be a higher amount of water in the harvest, and therefore the honey will be harder to preserve. Waiting until March is one way the beekeepers try to solve this problem, but sometimes, seasons of late flowering will occur and the presence of this new honey in the cells cannot be avoided.

Boarded in 2014

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