Honeydew Honey – A Strong, Dark Honey

Honey Bee, Apis mellifera, collecting honeydew Honeydew honey is known to be one of the most unique, most intriguingly exotic honeys in the world. It has been acclaimed as a special honey even among the specialties. The bees love the honeydew and feed on it to culminate into an absolutely spectacular and 100% organic end product, making it uniquely different from regular honey made from the flower blossom nectar most of us know.

Honeydew honey or Forest honey is a type of honey made—not from blossom nectar—but from honeydew excreted by plant sucking insects such as aphids. It is usually produced from trees, both conifers and deciduous, although it may also produced from grasses and plants.

The ancient Roman naturalist Pliny thought honeydew fell from the stars and this belief was held for centuries. It was as recent as the 1960s that some beekeepers believed that honeydew collected by bees was sweated out or exuded from trees and plants although it was determined by the French naturalist, Reaumur in 1740 to be produced by aphids.

Aphid This strong-tasting, mineral-rich, savory honey is the result of a relationship between aphids and bees that is common throughout the world, yet unbeknownst to most.

What is Honeydew?

Honeydew is a sugar-rich sticky liquid, secreted by aphids and some scale insects as they feed on plant sap. When their mouthpart penetrates the phloem, vascular tissue in plants that conducts sugars and other metabolic products downward from the leaves, the sugary, high-pressure liquid is forced out of the anus of the aphid.

Honeydew is particularly common as a secretion in hemipteran insects (cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, and others ) and is often the basis for trophobiosis, a symbiotic relation in which one organism protects the other in return for some kind of food product. mutualism. Some caterpillars of Lycaenidae butterflies and some moths also produce honeydew

Why Do Aphids Produce Honeydew?

Why do aphids eject honeydew in the first place? Normally waste products of insects or animals are not particularly appetizing except to dung beetles, fungus and bacteria. Yet honeydew is eaten by a wide variety of insects and animals, and by humans. It is so prized by ants they actually tend their ‘herds’ of aphids and protect them from predators to harvest their honeydew. Why don’t the aphids digest the honeydew as food for themselves, or is it created perhaps as an incentive for the ant’s protection?

It turns out that while aphids use some of the sugars and other nutrients in the plant sap, they must process a large amount of sap to get usable amounts of proteins. Plant sap only contains about 1-2% of proteins. The rest is expelled and actually ejected away from the insect to land on leaves or needles, branches and the ground below. If an aphid-covered branch is suddenly jostled they will release their honeydew in a fine misty spray.

Honeydew Production

Honeydew Honey Honeydew flow is often strong in late dry summers. It may be known generically as “Forest Honey” or “Tree Honey” but also by the name of the particular source plant, “Fir Honey”, “Pine Honey”, “Lime Tree Honey”, “Oak Honey” etc. So that even today many people believe this honey is created from sap secreted directly from the tree itself. This is not the case. Only about 1% of the time do plants exude a honeydew-like substance directly that bees will use, and this is usually as the result of an injury or shock to the plant.

Honeydew honey is highly appreciated in certain parts of the world by connoisseurs and honey lovers alike for its strong flavor and healthful properties. While honeydew is produced in North America, the honey is not particularly common.

Color: Dark to very dark, honey colored, sometimes with green fluorescence.
Taste: Intensity: medium, woody and warm. Medium sweetness with weak acidity. No bitterness with a medium aroma. Medium persistence/aftertaste and sometimes astringent.
Aroma: Woody and warm.

Difference Between Blossom and Honeydew Honey

While the composition of honeydew honey varies by the type of insect and plant, just as the composition of blossom honey varies by the type of blossom, there are some common differences. In general, honeydew honey is higher in minerals and amino acids as well as higher molecular weight sugars (oligosaccharides). Oligosaccharides are prebiotics that have a beneficial effect on bacteria in the digestive system. It tends to be darker, less sweet, less acidic and resists crystallization when compared to honey. Honeydew honey has higher electrical conductivity and ash content and tends to remain liquid and resist crystallization because of high fructose and low glucose levels, as well as a low glucose to water ratio. There has been some research that indicates that honeydew honey also has higher than average antibiotic properties due to higher levels of Glucose Oxidase which leads to the production of Hydrogen Peroxide.

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