A trickle of sweet, natural Omani honey is distinguishable among local consumers in Oman.
Well-known for its nutrition, it has become a popular product among items in the marketplace, with segments of local communities rushing to purchase it whenever it becomes available.
Natural Omani honey is used widely within Omani dishes and as part of daily meals, not only for an added sweetness to the existing flavor, but for therapeutic purposes as well.
This makes it quite expensive.
Collecting honey is a profession that Omanis have honed since ancient times, and it has since become a craft of interest on a national level; like the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which looks to support those who are interested in collecting honey.
The Ministry also exerts its efforts to provide farmers, ranchers and beekeepers with the necessary tools that would allow them to extract the natural honey. They are trained on how to produce honey for commercial purposes.
Uniquely, the most famous types of Omani honey, known as ‘Al-Burm’ and ‘Al-Sidr’, are some of the finest varieties of Omani natural Honey. The color of Omani natural honey usually comes closer to black, except for ‘Al-Sidr’, which comes closer to a light, golden brown.
Generally, honey is harvested or collected throughout the year, but those fine varieties like ‘Al-Burm’ and ‘Al-Sidr’ are produced annually during the months of March until the end of May.
The honey ends up being richer in this period due to the Spring season, when bees soak up the nectar of trees, known as ‘Al-Samar’ trees, which bloom in Oman during these months.
Moreover, there are several types of honey bees found in Oman, such as the locally-known bee, ‘Abu Twaiq’, originally from ‘Al-Rustaq’. It is a smaller sized bee compared to the ‘Persian’, which is very much larger.
As you might guess, the ‘Persian’ beehive provides a larger quantity of honey compared to what can be produced by the ‘Abu Tuwaiq’ beehive.
There are many steps in between extracting the finest Omani natural honey to having them placed on shelves for consumers to buy.
First, the seeking for honey begins with bees that come into water sources. This process takes place in the early morning, when beekeepers usually monitor the bees during their flight towards their hives. The monitoring process is done either by plain eyesight, or through telescopes.
Then, the beekeepers try to determine the direction in which the bees fly. They begin to look for beehives either in mountainous highlands, such as caves, or in farms, palm groves and various types of trees.
After a beehive is found, the quantity of honey can be estimated in accordance to the size of the hive; if it is large, the beekeeper will collect its honey immediately, but there are times when he may wait until it becomes even larger in size.
From there, the process of collecting and harvesting the honey starts when the beekeeper gently pushes the bees out from the top of the hive where the honey is stocked. For protection against bee stings, a beekeeping suit is worn. The suit hides a beekeeper’s body, including the face which is always masked, while the exposed parts are covered with either a plastic cover or gloves.
Once the honey is collected from the upper part of the hive, the beekeeper will place the hive back, or move it to another place where he feels it may be more convenient.
Finally after that is done, the beekeeper performs a filtration process for the amount of honey collected, and packs it in glass bottles or metal cans depending on its use, whether it be for food consumption or treatment purposes.
The price of Omani natural honey varies according to its quality, availability and the demand for it in the market. The price may typically start from RO60 per bottle to more than RO100 per bottle.
Ultimately, Omanis are keen on the presence of natural Omani honey on their dining room tables. This delicacy is important to Omanis to have either daily, or on special occasions such as during the Eid holidays, where the honey is enjoyed with meat ( Al –Jawlah meal)!
Translated by Sabco Media staff