Traditional apiculture has been practised in Ethiopia over a long historical period and still remains a benign means to extract direct benefits from natural ecosystems. While its contribution to economic development and watershed protection is increasingly recognized its cultural significance is however, seldom noticed. This study was conducted using an ethnobotanical study approach to document the honey bee flora and associated indigenous knowledge of local communities in Borena Sayint National Park (BSNP), north eastern Ethiopia.
Data were collected from 170 informants through semi-structured interviews and guided field walks, focus group discussion with 37 informants and 14 key informants and analyzed using standard analytical tools including ranking, comparisons and multivariate analyses.
In total, 152 bee forage species in 133 genera and 74 families were documented. The Asteraceae and Rosaceae were represented with six species each over the other plant families. Percentage of mentions per species ranged between 76.9 and 13.5 % for the most salient bee forage species. Dombeya torrida, Erica arborea, and Olinia rochetiana captured high community consensus as measured by rank order of popularity and designated as local appellation names of honey. Cluster analysis of priority ranking data showed relationships between key informants with respect to preferences, but ordination analysis did not indicate environmental proximity as a determinant of their responses. Five honey harvesting seasons occur each corresponding to the floral calendar of a dominant bee forage species that stipulate relocation of hives to appropriate locations within the national park.
The apicultural tradition is iconic with economic value and forming part of the local peoples' cultural identity apt to be preserved as a bequest for posterity.