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What exactly is honeydew?

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oxnatbees 

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Hi. I see this term bandied around. As far as I can see it is ambiguous and could refer to -

- the secretions of aphids and other sap suckers
- the sap(?) exuded directly from some plants like conifers, lime etc
- the (whatever it is - sap? nectar? What's the difference?) exuded by extra-floral nectaries on plants like Laurel

What is it that bees collect? All of these?

Yrs confusedly, A Bloke
 

Hachi 

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Damn! A lot more than I ever thought I'd have
The honeydew I tasted was the secretions [crap] of aphids and other crap suckers. Strange taste that I couldn't get past knowing what it was. 🤮

For those of you that like it, you're welcome to my share with pleasure
 

pargyle 

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Straight from Wikipedia .. and what i thought it was ... Aphid sh1T .. but... by the time your bees have processed it... it's just a different tasting honey.

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, the sugary, high-pressure liquid is forced out of the anus of the aphid
 

hemo 

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Honeydew AFAIK is a sweet secretion from aphids once they have taken whatever they need from the sap, mostly honeydew is from fir/pine tree forests and is also known as pinetreehoney.
I have had one small crop of honey dew about 4 or 5 years ago, a quite dark flavoured honey sweet but not overly, rich/strong in taste leaving a taste on the palette that I just couldn't put my finger on.
 

Newbeeneil 

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Honeydew AFAIK is a sweet secretion from aphids once they have taken whatever they need from the sap, mostly honeydew is from fir/pine tree forests and is also known as pinetreehoney.
I have had one small crop of honey dew about 4 or 5 years ago, a quite dark flavoured honey sweet but not overly, rich/strong in taste leaving a taste on the palette that I just couldn't put my finger on.
One of my apiaries is under a large stand of lime trees and 2 years ago the trees were covered in aphids dripping honeydew all over the cars parked beneath. The bees were all over the trees and produced a dark honey that had a caramel taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste. I wasn't keen on it but after I labelled it as honeydew honey it sold like hot cakes at the local posh deli!
I haven't had it happen since.
 

masterBK 

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To obtain enough amino acids and proteins from the sap of their host plants Aphids and scale insects suck up large quantities of sap and excrete the surplus fluid and sugars. Although mainly collected by ants honey bees will collect it particularly in hot dry summers.The honey produced from it varies in colour but is often dark but can have a greeny tint. Analysis of deposits centrifuged from Honeydew Honey reveals algae , fungal hyphae and spores (particularly sooty moulds which add colour to the honey) crystals, soot, dust and other debris (hairs from the body of aphids etc). I took the attached photo of such a sample many years ago. While most people are familiar with aphids not so many would recognise a scale insect so have also attached a photo of scale insect (with ant that had just visited it) on a bramble.

The honey produced from honeydew contains very little pollen from nectiferous plants but does contain pollen from wind pollinated (anemophilous) plants such as conifers and grasses. As this pollen blows about in the wind it gets stuck in the sticky honeydew and is subsequently collected by the bees. Honeydew has less fructose and more melizitose (& fructomalose plus other oligosacharides) compared with most floral Honey. Honeydew honey is usually dextrorotatory (rotates light to the right) when viewed through a polarimeter wheras most floral honies are laevorotatory. Many honey entries in the dark class (apart from Bell heather and chestnut honey) of a honeyshow contains honeydew. Honey mainly derived from honeydew has a distinctive malty taste and more mineral salts than most honies and doesn't granulate very well. It fetchs a premium in Germany so to prevent cheaper honies being parmed off as honeydew there is a section in the honey regulations (2015) that states that the electrical conductivity of honeydew honey or blends containing honeydew must not be less than 0.8mS/cm (mS = milliSiemens). Most other honey have a much lower electrical conductivity

Hope this provides a complete account for anyone interested
 

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Goran 

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At my place it is considered about every 7th year conditions click and we have forage of honeydew ( from deciduous trees). I had once in my beekeeping such decent year. Honey as many said tasted as " cappuccino ". To me it had some " metallic" taste. It was strong and tasty. It is considered as rich in minerals.. Recently we have invasion of some pest from Turkey which is detriment to our oak forests and many said maybe we will never again have honeydew.. However, in Croatia are vast spaces with conifers and there is honeydew each year, but not near me.. It usually falls into higher class of honey ( with price and demand also)..
 

happyculteur 

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However, in Croatia are vast spaces with conifers and there is honeydew each year, but not near me.. It usually falls into higher class of honey ( with price and demand also)..
In France it is mainly produced in the Vosges forests but only on fir trees. Here also is it not regular, and is much sought after and very expensive.

I have always kept bees near to lime trees and there are always all types of insects on the leaves and flowers. I have large lime flows, but the honey is nothing like described. Neither in taste nor in colour. I presume this must mean that the collect is mainly from the flowers, so question : Would the bees prefer the flower nectar to the aphid excretion, and if so, why?
 

hemo 

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The only time I have had dark honey dew was after the main summer harvest, a colony within 0.5km of a pine/fir forest collected 30lbs in the super left on.
 

Goran 

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In France it is mainly produced in the Vosges forests but only on fir trees. Here also is it not regular, and is much sought after and very expensive.

I have always kept bees near to lime trees and there are always all types of insects on the leaves and flowers. I have large lime flows, but the honey is nothing like described. Neither in taste nor in colour. I presume this must mean that the collect is mainly from the flowers, so question : Would the bees prefer the flower nectar to the aphid excretion, and if so, why?
I presume they will bring rather honeydew if there is in abundance.. less fuss.. This is only my thinking..
 

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