What Is The Difference Between Honeydew Honey And Blossom Honey?

You may have heard of, or seen ‘honeydew honey’, and be wondering about the premium price and perhaps various claims you may have read about it.  

Differences between blossom and honeydew honey

What makes honeydew honey special, and how is it different from blossom honey?

What is honeydew honey vs blossom honey?

Honey can be either ‘blossom honey’ or ‘honeydew honey’.   Blossom honey is made from the nectar gathered by bees from flowering plants.  There are many examples, such as monofloral Manuka honey which bees make from nectar gathered from the pink flowers of Leptospermum scoparium shrub, or Tupelo honey which is made from nectar gathered by bees from the White Tupelo tree. There are also multi-floral honeys such as those made from nectar gathered by bees from wildflowers.

A honey bee feeding on droplets of honeydew secreted by aphids on the underside of a leaf.Honey bee - Apis mellifera feeding on honeydew.

Honeydew honey is honey made from honeydew – a sticky liquid produced by aphids and some other insects that feed on plant sap.  Honey bees will harvest this honeydew from the bark or leaves or stems of trees and other sap-producing plants (although usually, honey bees prefer to forage on flowers, and will turn to the sweet secretions of aphids when the availability of floral nectar is limited).  Honeydew honey is sometimes labelled ‘forest honey’ or even ‘oak honey’ or ‘pine’ and ‘fir’ honey, depending on where the bees have been foraging and the primary source of honeydew. 

Appearance and sweetness

Honeydew honeys are dark and less sweet than blossom honeys.

Nutrients

  • The water content is about the same for both blossom honey and honeydew honey1.
  • Overall sugar content is about the same, but there are differences in the relative proportions of the different kinds of sugars monosaccharides, disaccharides and trisaccharides1. 
  • Blossom honey has a higher proportion of glucose and sucrose, while honeydew honey has a higher proportion of oligosaccharides1.  (Oligosaccharides are carbohydrate molecules that have between three and ten monosaccharides – simple sugar molecules such as glucose.  In the human body, oligosaccharides play important roles in cell recognition, blood type, and cell adhesion.)
  • Honeydew honey also has a higher proportion of minerals, and of amino acids and proteins1.
  • Honeydew honey, like blossom honey, is acidic but with a lower pH value than many blossom honeys, making it less acidic.


Health claims

There are a number of pages on this website that examine the claims made for the health benefits of honey.  Whilst there is robust evidence for some of the claims made for honey, there is a lack of evidence to support others. 

With regard to honeydew honey, one study (Chepulis2) showed that feeding on honeydew honey caused an improvement in the immune system of rats.  I can’t find any work reproducing this evidence in humans.

I am not aware of any studies that provide a comparison between the two honey types in terms of their antimicrobial activity, for example, against MRSA, or in terms of their wound healing capacity.

So the short answer is that there is no evidence to suggest that either of the honeys is superior to the other in terms of health benefits in humans.

Why is honeydew honey expensive and is it worth the premium price?

In the end, I think this is a personal choice.  What this article does not cover is flavor and aroma, which clearly is a matter of individual preference.  Whether or not you view the nutrient differences as significant is another matter of opinion.   I can find no compelling evidence that elevates honeydew honey over blossom honey with regard to advantage to health.

References

1. Ajibola A, Chamunorwa JP, Erlwanger KH. Nutraceutical values of natural honey and its contribution to human health and wealth. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012;9:61. Published 2012 Jun 20. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-61

2. Chepulis, Lynne. (2007). The Effects of Honey Compared With Sucrose and a Sugar-free Diet on Neutrophil Phagocytosis and Lymphocyte Numbers after Long-term Feeding in Rats. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. 4. 10.2202/1553-3840.1098. 







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