But then what is honeydew?
It is a viscous and very sweet liquid, secreted by certain stinging and sucking insects (in particular aphids, cochineals, psyllids and whiteflies) and which covers the leaves and trunks of certain trees with non-melliferous flowers, such as pines, firs, oaks, ashes, birches, etc.
How is it created?
The insects involved gorge themselves on sap to feed. Very fond of it, they are able to swallow an amount equal to their own weight! Obviously, under these conditions, they only assimilate a tiny part of the sap as food and reject the rest. Their surprising anatomy allows them to contract their intestines so that the non-assimilated sap only passes through their body without being completely constrained at the various stages of digestion. It is the expelled sap that is called honeydew.
How does it work then?
Hungry, the bees then collect this rare liquid deposited on the leaves, branches and trunk of the tree. Proud of their plunder, they hurry back to the hive to begin their meticulous work as cooks. The result is the creation of honeydew honey; a rare honey prized by all.
Why does the production of honeydew honey require an intermediary?
First of all, the bees' proboscis is unsuitable for sinking into plant tissues to collect the sap. Moreover, although the excess sap is almost immediately rejected by insects, it still undergoes biochemical modification to give the famous honeydew.
Apart from the raw material collected by the bee, what is the difference between honeydew honey and flower honey?
First of all, a honeydew honey will always have a darker colour than a nectar honey and generally speaking, a more pronounced aroma. In addition, honeydew honeys contain fewer sugars but are richer in amino acids and minerals. Thus, their beneficial properties are multiple.
For the record, bees are not the only ones who love honeydew. Indeed, our friends the ants are also big consumers of this sweet liquid and even go so far as to raise aphids in order to recover the honeydew.