winter honey

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Winter honey

***** Location: Yemen
***** Season: Winter
***** Category: Humanity


From the ilb tree = Christ's Thorn
Zizyphus spina christi

"Christ's thorn is one of the most important nectar and pollen sources of Eritrea and Yemen. Honeybees forage on the abundant nectar and pollen and in dense stands the bees will produce a significant surplus of honey. In most cases the pollen and nectar of a single tree will strengthen colonies and significantly stimulate brood rearing."
source : www.beesfordevelopment.org


Traditional Beekeeping in Eastern Yemen
by Giovanni Canova

I. Since ancient times Yemen has been famous for the excellent quality of its honey. Erathostenes pointed out that Southern Arabia was a fertile land and possessed many ideal places for the production of honey. (2) The evidence that beekeeping was widespread in the wadis of eastern Yemen in the pre-Islamic period also seems to be supported by the presence of rock-paintings - possibly to be interpreted as swarms of wild bees. When the Tubba' Tibân As'ad Abû Karib went to Mecca, he covered the Ka'ba with a kiswa of fine Yemeni fabric, sacrificed animals which he distributed to the people and "gave them honey to drink". (3)

Rock painting from Dhofar (Oman) that possibly represents a swarm of bees.

Al-Hamdânî informs us that the slopes of Mount Hinwam, a territory inhabited by the Ahnûm (Hamdân), are "the richest in bees and honey among the lands of God, where a man can have fifty beehives (jibh) or more". (4) Unfortunately, no specific information about Yemeni honey is given by Yûsuf b. ‘Umar. (5) The almanacs of the Rasulid period, even without mentioning the bees, record the best days for collecting the various types of Yemeni honey.(6) According to the Egyptian historian al-Maqrîzî (d. 1441), the author of one of the few Arabic treatises on beekeeping, 'the whole of Yemen is a land of honey'. (7)

In the Yemen, bees are called nûb (sing. nûba). C. Landberg remarks that 'nûb is part of the Southern Arabia vocabulary, whereas nahl is seldom used'. (8) Yemeni bees are classified as Apis mellifera yemenitica. They are not aggressive and have a smaller body to the European Apis mellifera, displaying grey stripes on the abdominal segments. They are ideally suited to the Yemeni climate and, until a few years ago, were not subject to disease. The techniques of beekeeping and honey extraction have remained, substantially, the traditional ones, even if now modern methods and equipment are being introduced. (9)

H. Ingrams describes how the smarms were captured in Wadi Daw‘an: the beekeeper identifies and captures the queen, putting her in a small box built especially for the purpose; then he inserts her into a mat woven in cane rolled-up in the shape of a hive and closed at one end, such that the bees follow her. (10)

The most highly esteemed honey is that produced from the flowers of 'ilb (Ziziphus spina Christi, L. Willd.) and sumar (Acacia tortillis, Forsk. Hayne). (12) Connoisseurs are able to distinguish between a Yemeni honey and one imported from abroad, as well as recognizing its regional origin from the colour, aroma, and taste. The degree of the humidity and consequent viscosity are of great importance in the valuation of honey. A traditional test consists of letting a drop of honey fall into the dust. If it remains spherical, the honey is considered to be pure; if, on the other hand, it expands, it can be presumed either that the honey has been lengthened or that the bees have been fed with syrup.

source :  Giovanni Canova / University of Venice. 2001

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


a queen and her sons
making it up to the thorns..
dark winter honey

~ ~ ~

buzzing bees leaving
their wooden hives softly
washed the winter sky

~ ~ ~

feeding his bride
with a pure heart..
winter honey and milk

Heike Gewi, Yemen, October 2008


Related words

***** Bee (mitsubachi)

***** Honey (hachimitsu) worldwide. Honey wine, mead

***** Honey Spas   Russia. Also Apple Spas, Linen Spas. Honey Saviour.



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