I MUST ADMIT THAT ONE OF MY ALL-TIME PERSONAL GOALS IS TO OWN A BEEHIVE. I was able to talk my wife into chickens (which didn’t last long), but having bees would be a whole different ballgame and she’s not willing to play….yet.
As we know, honey is produced by bees, specifically, honeybees (Apis is the genus), that collect nectar from assorted floral annuals. That source of nectar determines the flavor. When the nectar is consumed by the bee, it undergoes an enzymatic change in the bee’s stomach. The converted nectar is then…well…regurgitated into wax honeycombs where it is constantly fanned by the honeybees’ wings and continually changes via evaporation. Finally, it becomes the sticky sweet substance we know as honey and it can be stored indefinitely in the bees’ honeycomb.
Honeydew honey, also known as forest honey, pine honey or tree honey, is produced in the same way. It is a nectar consumed by bees that goes through the enzymatic change and again, gets placed into honeycombs by the bee for the evaporation process. The only difference? The nectar is excreted from plant-sucking insects. The bee collects/consumes the excretion of the insects and the process begins as explained.
The honeydew takes on the characteristics of the plant or tree on which the insects are feeding. There are honeydews made from conifers (pine, fir and spruce trees), cedar, sugarcane, oaks and more. The type of insect and where it was fed (plant/tree) affects the flavor and color of the nectar. Aphids, scales and leaf-hoppers are the primary insects that produce the nectar excretions. By doing so, their specific digestive systems lend a different enzymatic change than honeybees.
There are some additional differences between honey and honeydew. Honeydew is generally less sweet and less acidic. It doesn’t crystalize as regular honey does; instead, it stays in liquid form. There have been studies claiming that honeydew has higher antibiotic properties than regular honey as well as higher amino acids and probiotics.
Honey and honeydew are amazing, natural products made in the most interesting of ways. The next time you are in a gourmet shop that sells honey, look and see if you can find some honeydew for sale or order some online for home delivery.