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Monday, August 9, 2010

Specialty Pure Honey, Kitwe, Zambia

This honey comes from Zambia. My friend Lauren traveled to Africa this summer and brought it back. The label states it is distributed by Specialty Foods LTD out of Kitwe. Specialty Foods is a private sector honey buyer that processes, packs and distributes honey to wholesalers and large supermarkets.

An online search ( that most honey production in Zambia occurs in rural, farm areas in the Northwestern Province, and that the honey sources of most Zambian honey are woodlands and forests, notably Brachystegia, Julbernardia and Isoberlinia. Given this link between forests and honey, beekeeping is thought to promote incentives for sustainable forestry. Deforestation is a major threat to honey production.

Honey production was noted as early as the 1850s in Zambia in David Livingstone's journals (of 'Dr. Livingstone, I presume?' fame). He described traditional log and bark hives, which are suspended from branches. These are being replaced by more efficient types of hives (e.g. Kenyan top bar hives, which resemble the hive boxes that I'm familiar with). Mud hives are also used. Given how and where honey is collected in Zambia, it is considered to be organic.

Honey, prior to being commercially traded, was mostly used to brew a honey-beer called mbote (which remains a popular drink).

One thing I learned, and never knew before, is that apart from honey bees (the indigenous African honey bee in the case of Zambia) there is another insect known as a 'stingless bee' that also produces a honey-like substance. This is generally not exported, though.

This Zambian honey is a warm, dark, amber color. It is clear and has a runny consistency. It is not too sweet with an incredibly interesting, complicated smoky flavor. The final taste is medium robust with smoky undertones. What a great honey! I think it might be nice on buttered bread or in plain yoghurt. It might change the taste of tea a little too much, unless it was a smoky tea.

I suspect it may be hard to find except in Zambia.

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