What is Forest Honey?
Honey, a delicacy provided by bees, is known both for its desirable flavor and the long list of health benefits it brings to the table.
Whether or not you’re a fan, you’ve likely heard about how honey can be useful outside of the kitchen.
You also likely know that honey can taste different depending on the kinds of flowers that bees collect the honey from.
But, have you heard of forest honey before?
It’s still made by bees but they’re not the only insects involved.
Forest honeys have the same standard health benefits but they also have some extras that up the ante. Each forest honey has a distinctive aroma and flavor.
They’re rare in North America but honey connoisseurs scramble whenever they become available because of their unique flavors and nutritional profiles.
How is forest honey made?
Forest honey is also known as honeydew honey.
Instead of gathering nectar from flowers, when making forest honey, bees collect honeydew from trees.
It was once believed that the honeydew fell from the stars. More recently, people thought that the tree excreted it (some people, even beekeepers, still think this). In actuality, honeydew is excreted by aphids.
Aphids eat tree sap, looking for amino acids. Once they’ve got what they need, they secrete what’s leftover back onto the tree. That sugary secretion is called honeydew.
The trees and aphids involved in this process are commonly found in the Mediterranean. Wonderfully, much of this region also has large areas of land that are remote, cut off from civilization and sparsely populated. Producing honey that is truly organic becomes a feasible option in this sort of place.
The bees’ side of things
Whether collecting nectar or honeydew, the bees use their long, tubelike tongues to gather it and take it back to their hive.
On the journey there, the nectar is stored in the stomach of the harvester bee. During the flight home, the nectar is mixed with the proteins and enzymes in the bee’s stomach.
Upon reaching the hive, the bees regurgitate the nectar into honeycombs made of wax (also made by the bees). They will repeat these steps until they have filled the honeycomb.
Then, the bees will fan their wings in front of the honeycomb to evaporate the water (approx ¾ of it) from the honey. This process thickens the honey considerably. At this stage, the bees cap the honeycomb with wax and move on to the next one.
When people harvest honey, they collect the honeycombs and release the thickened honey stored inside. The color, scent, taste and properties of the honey all differ depending on the variety, but the process is the same.
Key differences between forest and flower honey
For one, forest honey is less vulnerable to crystallization than regular honey. This is because it has lower glucose levels and a higher mineral content.
Forest honey also tends to be darker in color and it isn’t as sweet as flower honey. Flower honeys have such mild flavors that they are easy to substitute for other sweeteners in coffee, tea or virtually any recipe or dish.
Forest honeys tend to have stronger, bolder, more distinctive flavors. You may still love them spread on toast, but you may find that they conflict with the other flavors in some of your recipes. Forest honeys are often prized by chefs because of how beautifully they pair with certain foods, especially meats and cheeses.
Benefits-of-Honey.com note that forest honey “contains a higher antioxidant, antibacterial activity level, mineral content and greater nutritional and therapeutic benefits than most regular flower honey.”
Health benefits of forest honey
Honey, in general, has a number of medicinal uses. It’s a natural source of energy and it helps to strengthen and support your immune system.
RealFoodForLife.com notes that: “Ancient Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has now been verified with modern studies, showing that it is superior in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time than other sweeteners.”
As much as it keeps you energized during the day though, when the time comes, it can also help you sleep. Honey increases insulin in the body and releases serotonin, a hormone that converts to melatonin which is responsible for sleep regulation.
Honey is also useful for treating sore throats and coughs. Whether you take it right from the spoon, mix it with hot lemon water or use it in recipes for cough syrup or drops, honey has long been known for its usefulness against cold symptoms like these. Many scientific studies back up this particular piece of folk wisdom.
Honey is excellent for both skin and hair. It helps to moisturize, but it also works to clear up skin conditions like rashes, breakouts and dandruff. It kills off bacteria that causes these issues and returns your skin to a comfortable, beautiful state.
Honey can also be used topically to treat wounds and burns. It is antimicrobial, so it disinfects the affected area and encourages healing. Again, this has been widely studied. Honey has even been found to be more effective than antibiotic ointments for treating minor burns.
These benefits can be found in any pure honey. Organic honey will typically be of higher quality and raw honey contains living probiotics and enzymes that have great benefits (stay tuned for our post on the benefits of raw honey over pasteurized honey, tomorrow).
Forest honeys have another level of nutrition, though, beyond what flower honey provides. This is partly why they are so sought after despite their relatively high cost.
The benefits of an individual forest honey will be specific to that variety. Some may be more beneficial for respiratory health, others, digestive health, and so on.
All forest honeys have high levels of antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins and mineral. They also have greater power against bacteria, viruses and fungi.
So, who is the winner?
You are. No matter what kind of pure, raw honey you choose, you’re going to get some of these incredible benefits… and a sweet treat too!
Flower honey is easily available, but usually you have to work a little harder to find forest honey.
But as of right now, for a limited time, you don’t have to look too far…
Activation Products is thrilled to bring you: Panabee.
This is a delicious line of seasonal honeys hand-harvested in Northern Greece. Grown in a pristine, biodiverse setting. Completely raw and organic.
The Panabee line will include forest and flower honeys, each loaded with nutrition and with plenty of health benefits for you and your family. Each with its own distinctive flavor.
Today we have Panabee Wild Chestnut Honey available to a limited number of customers.
This honey is actually a hybrid — made from both the nectar of the wild chestnut flowers and the honeydew of the wild chestnut tree. Its antioxidant profile is similar to other forest honeys.
The bees can’t be held accountable for how much honey they produce, so we cannot guarantee yields from year to year. We may never be able to offer this unique honey again.
Five Incredible Forest Honeys
Share this post to discover them all!