Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pine Honey is an Actual Thing

I had always assumed that honey was made only from the nectar of flowers; however, I recently learned about pine honey while surfing the internet. Pine trees do not produce flowers in the botanical sense of the word, rather, they produce cones and cones do not produce nectar. So how could pine honey be an actual thing?

It turns out that in the eastern Mediterranean, mainly in Greece and Turkey, there occurs a scale insect of pine trees with the scientific name of Marchalina hellenica. The insect sucks pine tree sap and, because the sap contains more sugars than the insect can use, it excretes the excess sugars as honeydew. Forest honey bees collect the honeydew and convert it into pine honey.

Although the fact that it existed was a surprise, I was not at all surprised to learn that pine honey is not particularly sweet and has a distinctive, slightly bitter flavor with a strong aroma (Benefits of Honey 2013).

Pine honey is not simply an unusual novelty item. It is an economically important product accounting for almost 65% of annual honey production in Greece and about 50% in Turkey (Hatjina & Bouga 2009). As is done with other monofloral honeys, beekeepers will transport their hives to pine forests during peak honeydew production.


Benefits of Honey. 2013. Exploring Honey Varieties. Internet: Visited 25 August 2013. Link

Hatjina, F. and M. Bouga. 2009. Portrait of Marchalina hellenica Gennadius (Hemiptera: Margarodidae), the main producing insect of pine honeydew—biology, genetic variability and honey production. U. Arı Drg. 9(4): 162–167. PDF

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