The honey that we use comes from communities living in and around the Ba'le Forest in Ethiopia, in the south Oromia state. This area forms part of the East African Montaine Eco-Region, which has been identified by the UN as a global hotspot for biodiversity and has several endemic species within the region that are classified as endangered. The Body Shop is the first international buyer to source from this region, and we hope that others will follow our lead.
Bezamar (its name means 'better trade' in Amharic) is a group of smallholding farmers who live in the Bale Eco-Region. It's a remote area, which means that it can be expensive for individual farmers to get their products to market. They also have to pay higher costs for everyday staples than they would if they lived in an urban or less remote location.
In addition to ensuring a fair price for this ingredient, The Body Shop pays an additional fund to the local community organisation, supporting their excellent work pioneering community forest management. Their work engages the wider community, increasing their understanding of sustainable forest management and giving them access to skills to generate non timber incomes; including the production of wild coffee and essential oil.
The honey is made in handcrafted bamboo hives hung in the forests. The comb is harvested and tested for quality and the honey is then separated out and filtered.
View south to Dodola where some of our honey comes from
Producing honey is a family affair. Beekeeping families make their beehives themselves from locally grown bamboo and grasses. Once made, the hives are hung in the forest ready for the local bee population to make a beeline to their new home.
Ethiopia is the top honey-producing country in Africa. In 2009 we used 32,000kg (32 tonnes) of honey in our products. That's the equivalent of around 4,000 beehives.
Negotiating a fair deal is a group effort. The fair price we pay for our honey is decided in partnership with the local beekeepers, NGOs and the Ethiopian government's own ministry of agriculture.