I have always been fascinated by the ability of bees to make honey out of flower nectar, but then I found out that they can even make honey out of a lice secretion. That was amazing to me, so here I want to share this whole process about Honeydew Honey with you!
What is Honeydew Honey?
Honeydew Honey is Honey is made by bees from the excrements that special aphids (tree lice) produce, when eating the bark juices of a tree. Honeydew Honey has nothing to do with the Honeydew Melon. Bees use two types of ingredients to produce honey. One type is from the blossoms of plants and the other type is from the waste that tree lice produce. Trees have resin on their bark and the tree lice eat that sweet juice and process it. The product that they excrement is picked up by bees and they make Honeydew Honey out of it.
What is honeydew?
In fact, honeydew is a thick sweet colorless juice that aphids and other insects suck from the leaves of tree species (oak, maple, willow, pine, fir, maple, ash, as well as from many kinds of grass and agricultural plants (corn, rye). etc.) In order to eat, aphids first perforate the leaves of a huge number of plants, as a result of which a small drop of plant sap flows out of each punctured site, and they pierce the facial conductive tissue of the plant with their sharp suction apparatus.
Infesting the plants and sucking the plant sap they feed on. In the filtration chamber of the lice, proteins and a small number of carbohydrates are released from the juice, which penetrates into their digestive tract and after being resorbed, leaving some of the sugars unchanged. This sweet liquid is expelled through the anus of lice and is called honeydew.
When the weather changes, accompanied by sharp temperature fluctuations and high humidity, a sweet dew-like liquid appears on the leaves and other green parts of the plants. It is similar in composition to plant juice, contains sugar-like, nitrogenous compounds, minerals and vitamins, and resembles nectar in composition. It is separated from the leaves and stipules of woody, shrubby and herbaceous plants and is excreted from their leaves in the form of small droplets – honeydew. When there are no nectar sources around the apiary, the bees collect this liquid, as well as over 71 species of aphids (which are also sweet) and process it into honeydew honey. Therefore, two types of honeydew are distinguished – animal (from aphids and aphids) and plant (honeydew). Bees do not collect it if it contains less than 4% sugars and when it lacks aromatic and some other compounds.
Each type of tree has its own type of lice!
Hundreds of honeydew-secreting insects feed on plant sap, but it is not the same in chemical composition. Oak juice differs sharply in its properties from that of cherries, corn and mustard. In the juice of ash, for example, potassium is 8, and phosphorus – 5 times more than the juice of fir.
Bees collect honeydew from leaves, shoots, stems, branches and bark of plants during the summer. When they are juniper, the honey obtained is called juniper, not honeydew, and the specific plant is additionally indicated (egs. juniper honey from white fir). Some researchers believe that bees collect true honeydew only from the leaves of trees, with maple, oak, linden and elm predominating, and from junipers – European fir, white fir and pine.
The most prominent producers of honeydew are aphids of the family Aphidae and insects of the family Coccididae, which parasitize virtually all trees and shrubs, excluding lilacs and thorns. On coniferous trees we find aphids of the family Lachninae, and for each type of tree there is a separate parasite. Honeydew is also formed by various beetles, cicadas, caterpillars and others. At the same time, the mechanism of honeydew production is different in different insect species: aphids and cicadas pass the plant sap through their body, filtering it, while beetles and caterpillars damage the leaf surface, from where a drop of sap leaks. Honeydew is also released during the parasitization of fungi (main) as well as bacteria on plants.
What is the chemical composition of honeydew?
The chemical composition of honeydew is similar to that of honey, but the water content is less at the expense of glucose and levulose. This makes it more convenient for consumption by diabetics (levulose does not need the enzyme insulin in its metabolism). The content of dextrins and resins is also higher (4-9%), as well as the harmful to bees salts.
How does honeydew work on bees?
When fed honeydew or honeydew honey, adult bees develop a disease state – honeydew toxicosis. Honeydew honey is especially dangerous for bees in summer when there is a lot of honeydew, or in winter, when families have stored 20-30 kg of this rich in mineral salts (over 1.50%), dextrins, non-protein nitrogenous substances, bacteria and molds and food toxins released by them.
They have to consume it all winter. In the absence of cleansing due to the cold weather, this food, rich in indigestible substances, fills the hindgut of bees and is a great substrate for rot leverage bacteria. Their toxins cause degenerative and necrobiotic processes in the midgut, where digestion takes place. Its transverse groove and tone are lost, its muscles are destroyed and it is unable to push food back and forth. It acquires a gray-black color and is easily torn when the digestive tract is dissected (for this purpose we decapitate the head, catch the last abdominal member with tweezers and pull the intestine from the esophagus to the anus). In honeydew toxicosis, the midgut is a sac filled with a sour-dark, dark brown liquid from the multiplied microorganisms. If we squeeze the abdomen, a sick bee leaks out of its anus like rotten intestinal contents pushed out by a syringe.
Damage to the midgut is a predisposing condition for nosematosis, especially the new disease “collapse of the bee colony” caused by Asian nosema, which has caused huge damage to bees around the world.
Is honeydew honey healthy?
The toxic properties of honeydew honey led beekeepers to consider it
for unfit for consumption not only by bees but also by humans, which is why they removed and discarded it. Their surprise was huge when the East Germans coming to our resorts in the last century began to buy it at prices higher than those of the highest quality varieties of honey. Only then did our beekeepers appreciate it and bring it to market.
Above all, the rich content of trace elements in the salts that have passed undigested through the digestive tract of aphids and then – through the body of bees. Double purified, they are completely absorbed by our body and have a miraculous healing effect on debilitating conditions – rickets, poor growth, muscle weakness, anemia, bone disorders, anorexia, testicular atrophy, weight loss, cretinism and myxedema.
Are there different honeydew honeys? (5 types of honeydew honey)
The great variety of sources of honeydew shows that there are many types of honeydew honey with different therapeutic manifestations. E. Zander (1931) was the first to identify five varieties of honeydew honey in the southern regions of Germany, namely:
- Honeydew leaf honey with dark brown (almost black) color turning green, with very sticky consistency and weak aroma. Crystallizes slowly, forming large crystals resembling pieces of cotton.
- Fir honey with dark green color, highly sticky, with resinous aroma. It crystallizes slowly, forming large crystals, darkening even more.
- White fir honey with yellow-golden color, with malty taste and aroma.
- Deciduous honey (from coniferous trees of the genus Larix, on which the leaves fall in autumn). It is lemon yellow or light brown and quickly forms large crystals.
- Pine honey (from high mountain pine forests), with water-transparent color.
In different parts of the country, bees collect not only dark but also light honeydew honey, which, in addition to organoleptically, differs in its high content of potassium, iron, manganese, melanocytosis (it causes sugaring).
Honeydew honey before fermentation is colorless, but after some time darkens. The honeydew juice of the cherry when it is separated is colorless, after 5 days it becomes bright red and after a month – almost black. In a similar way the color of honeydew honey changes in rose, rosehip, plum, apple and others. The honey collected from willow sometimes turns into insoluble white crystals in the cakes. The crystals gradually turn into a dry white powder, part of which remains in the cells and another part falls to the bottom of the hive. The lighter honeydew honey is candied into small crystals. Dark brown honeydew honey rarely sugars. Its crystals are large and there is a liquid substance between them.
How is honeydew honey falsified?
A few years ago, beekeepers from Tsarevo(Bulgaria) declared that they would produce impossible quantities of honeydew honey. Studies have shown that they relied on the gypsies, not the bees: they roamed the oak forests and supplied huge quantities of bark. Boiled and mixed with ordinary honey, they give the characteristic dark color to the obtained forgery. The sap secreted by different types of plants is different in its chemical composition. Aphid honeydew contains high molecular weight sugars that are not found in plant sap. Honeydew with different sugars is obtained from different insects. Not to forget, you can always try those methods at home to tell if the honey is good.
Honeydew is dominated by glucose and fructose, with the highest percentage of fructose. Therefore, the falsification of honeydew honey is achieved by adding fructose to a decoction of oak bark and to imitate animal honeydew, lard is added. The counterfeit obtained is corrected for its electrical conductivity (only in this way can it be identified), and the micro pixels must correspond to those of the original honeydew honey. Such a fake is difficult to detect, but it lacks the enzymes secreted by the salivary glands of bees (diastase (amylase), invertase, catalase, acid phosphatase, glucose-oxidase, polyphenol oxidase, peroxidase, esterase) and proteolytic enzymes. Their absence is an indicator of falsification. In addition, honeydew honey is very rich in free amino acids. 181 identified substances have been proven in honey, which provides wide possibilities of analytical chemistry in the determination of counterfeits.
Sometimes honeydew contains sugar alcohols or substances harmful to bees (raffinose, melibiose, galactose and mannose) instead of sugars. The variety of sugars attracts bees, while sugar alcohols repel them. The different types of sugars in honeydew affect the properties of honeydew honey: consistency, taste, healing effect and more.
Healing effects of Honeydew Honey
Honeydew honey, obtained from the oak forests, has a dark to a black color and a specific aroma, is extremely rich in minerals, antioxidants with anti-cancer action (prevents leukemia in children), increases the level of hemoglobin (has an antianemic effect), lowers blood pressure, stimulates blood flow in the coronary vessels and strengthens the heart muscle; has a protective effect on respiratory infections, diseases of the liver, kidneys and bladder, and improves the work of hematopoietic organs (especially the spleen). It contains alanine, arginine, valine, aspartic and glutamic acid, glycine, cystine, leucine, lysine, methionine, proline, serine, threonine, tyrosine, tryptophan, and sugars – in addition to raffinose, melibiose, galactose and mannose, also maltose, melicitosis, sucrose, glucose, fructose, etc.
Honeydew honey is characterized by a high content of melicitosis (4 – 11%) and erlose, as well as a larger amount of higher sugars. Its acidity and its buffering capacity are higher than those of nectar honey. The content of nitrogenous substances and mineral salts (especially cationin K), dextrins, mucous and non-protein nitrogen-containing substances, as well as quartz crystals make it toxic to bees (honeydew toxicosis) but not to humans.
In bees overwintered with honeydew honey, degeneration and necrosis of the intestinal epithelium, functional disorders in the intestine and even death during hibernation or during the collection of honeydew and its introduction into the hive are observed. The mineral salts in honeydew honey reach up to 1.52%. Due to the higher content of dextrin, protein substances, mineral salts and others. the hind intestine of bees fills up quickly, and the toxins formed by various bacteria and molds further complicate the metabolism. The most significant are the changes in the midgut: in the beginning, increased secretion and exfoliation of the peritrophic membrane (it ruptures and cannot be dissected), and the subsequent degenerative and necrobiotic changes cause mass mortality in bee colonies fed with honeydew honey.
Honeydew honey has a higher density than nectar. It has a peculiar aroma and often has an unpleasant bitter taste. Its crystallization is most often fine-grained. Dark brown honeydew honey crystallizes less frequently, forming large grains with a liquid substance between them. It is more hygroscopic than nectar honey and when not sealed in the cells it sours easily.
How is honeydew honey identified?
The recognition of honeydew honey is carried out with the alcohol reaction and with the sample with lime water (in both cases the positive sample is manifested by turbidity and sedimentation). Honeydew honey differs from nectar honey in its chemical composition.
Treatment with honeydew honey
Prevention and therapy are carried out with 1 tablespoon of honeydew honey three times a day 1 hour before meals. Often bees mix honeydew honey with nectar and mixed honey is obtained (acacia-honeydew, linden-honeydew, etc.). The healing properties of pure and mixed honey are different.
Characteristics of Honeydew Honey
|Color Intensity||Dark to very dark|
|Intensity of odor||Medium|
|Sweetness||Not very sweet to medium|
|Aroma||Woody and warm|
|Aftertaste||Almost none but delightful one|
|Crystallization rate||Very slow|
|Fructose + Glucose||45/100 g|
Despite the variety of honeydew and honeydew-nectar honeys, there are some common characteristics. Honeydew honeys are usually dark, the taste is not sweet, it is more often sour, they have a sticky (tough) consistency, they crystallize more often. The most authoritative is the laboratory tests: lime and alcohol sample, the absence of amylase, catalase and other salivary enzymes, higher acidity (below 0.6 normal degrees), cation K, higher content of microelements, manganese, copper, iron).
Their therapeutic and prophylactic properties are indisputable, and as natural products, they are maximally absorbed by the body. The richness of free amino acids in honeydew honey stimulates growth and development in adolescents, in cachexia, anorexia, exhaustion in athletes, people with intense mental and physical work and is especially sought after in bodybuilding. Getting strong and toned muscles are unthinkable without special very expensive balanced diets containing additional vitamins and various free fatty acids. Honeydew honey is considered pure if it does not contain impurities of nectar (flower) honey. Pure honeydew honey has certain healing properties, which is why it is more sought after.
Eat honeydew honey, not just use it as a medicine!
Let your children build muscles, not bellies!
Let the young ladies sculpt their bodies, not just their busts!
Let’s be beautiful, not because beauty will save the world, but because
it will make everyone around us happy!
Respect the bee, keep the bee!