The first certified organic and fair traded honey in the world, this originates from the remote Miombo forests of North-Western Zambia. Supplied by Tropical Forest the honey itself is collected by small-scale village beekeepers. They construct traditional bark hives that are suspended high in the trees to avoid the attentions of ants and honey badgers. The tube-like bark hives become occupied by wild African bees which go on to fill the hive with honeycomb. When the wild bees have filled the hive the beekeepers return to collect the honey, leaving some for the bees. Each beekeeper will often have many such hives in the forests surrounding their home and will collect only a few per year, allowing the wild bees to maintain their colonies and gradually build up stores of honey. Often the hives may be left for two to five years between collections. During this time large reserves of honey can be accumulated and many swarms are produced to occupy any empty hives. Once collected the honey is extracted using simple pressing and filtration producing a high quality unheated honey with a high pollen count and unique flavour.
The Miombo woodlands in northern Zambia
(Photo by Jeff Walker for Center for International Forestry Research)
The indigenous wild African honey bees (Apis mellifera species) that produce this honey forage among the Miombo woodlands of Northern Zambia. These woodlands are dominated by a number of flowering leguminous trees, which are preferred nectar sources for the bees. As a large percentage of Zambia is covered by woodlands and dry forests there is a large area for these bees to forage over and there has long been a tradition of beekeeping by local people in these forested areas.
These two jars of honey I found in Real Foods and Holland and Barrett in Edinburgh. Although they are both the same type it is clear that there is a lot of variation between jars. One jar has started to crystallise but beyond that there is a very different aroma and flaovour from the two jars. This must originate from the various flowers visited by the bees in different locations or times of year.
These honeys have a very different taste from British honeys. The first jar has a dark amber color and strong unique floral flavour.
This second jar is much more viscous with a light chocolaty color and a strong almost molasses like flavour. It would be difficult to say which I prefer as they are both so individual. I shall certainty enjoy eating both.
Overall I love the unique flavours and aromas of this honey that are so different from other honeys that I have so far tried.