Until now, beekeepers in both Medula and Kololo have sold their crude honey in the form known as “injera”. Going by the same name as that of the fermented teff grain bubbly flat bread, honey along with pollen, propolis, and rolly jelly all are all sold inside of the wax honey comb.
Nutritionally, this mix is very beneficial as all the bee products are kept in their most natural state. However, as beekeepers sell these products in their crude form to the the tej makers in town who in turn mix it all with water and allow it to ferment in the production of their traditional honey wine, these benefits as well as their market potential are lost.
The second half of our workshop was spent introducing the proper use and maintenance of an Italian imported honey press machine.
Beyond benefiting from the increased amount of honey produced in the transitional beehives, beekeepers are also able to benefit from the cleaner and more hygienic products the bees create.
Rather than selling the “injera” honey to the tej buyers at an average price of 50 Birr per Kilo (2 Euros/Kilo), by separating the wax from the honey, beekeepers have the potential of selling the wax for at least 200 Birr/Kg (8 Euros/Kilo) and the pure table honey for another 60 Birr/KG.
Yet, as beekeepers brought to our attention, the sell isn’t always going to be easy. In order to increase the product, many honey sellers, weather producers or resellers have the reputation of mixing their honey with sugar in order to increase it’s over all weight. So when product quality is in question, selling honey inside the comb has been the only way to guarantee its purity.
Temporarily stumped at this issue myself, I know that the only change to this dilemma is community education. Beekeepers need to be constant with their selling prices as well as production. When they value their product, buyers desiring their product will have no choice but to do the same.
By being consistent with their production as well as quality, beekeepers can recreate a stronger market in their favor, and like most changes this will take time.
But as their enthusiasm and commitment have shown me in our little time working together, I have no reason to think that they won’t.