Can you make honey from honeysuckle?

Honeysuckle, with its sweetly scented flowers, evokes images of bees buzzing from blossom to blossom. This prompts the question – can you make honey from honeysuckle? After all, bees make honey from flower nectar, and honeysuckle flowers seem like they would be a good source. As it turns out, the answer is more complex than it may first appear. While bees do visit honeysuckle flowers for nectar, there are challenges to using honeysuckle nectar to produce honey on a commercial scale. However, it is possible to make small batches of honeysuckle honey at home. In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of making honey from honeysuckle.

Do bees make honeysuckle honey?

Bees definitely visit honeysuckle flowers to gather nectar. In fact, the flowers are very attractive to bees and other pollinators. However, most honey bees do not rely solely on honeysuckle nectar to make their honey. Honey bees gather nectar from a wide variety of flower sources as they forage. The nectar from multiple flower species gets blended together in the hive to create a honey with a complex, nuanced flavor.

So while honeysuckle nectar may contribute to the overall honey production of a hive, it is rarely from honeysuckle alone. The exceptions would be in areas where honeysuckle is an exceptionally abundant bloom that dominates over other flower sources. Even then, bees would likely incorporate nectar from other flowers to some degree.

Factors limiting honeysuckle honey production

There are a few factors that prevent honeysuckle from being a major honey production plant:

  • Bloom period – The flowering period for honeysuckle is relatively short, often just a few weeks. This limits the amount of nectar available compared to plants that flower for months.
  • Nectar volume – The individual honeysuckle flowers produce only small amounts of nectar. Bees would need to visit many blossoms to gather enough nectar for significant honey production.
  • Growth habits – Honeysuckle can be invasive and aggressive in the wild. The sprawling growth pattern is not ideal for cultivated rows of honeysuckle needed for commercial scale beekeeping.
  • Limited range – While honeysuckle grows across much of North America, it thrives best in certain regions. Large scale honeysuckle cultivation for honey would be limited by climate and growing conditions.

These factors help explain why honeysuckle honey is not a major commercial honey variety. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to produce, especially on a small, local scale.

Backyard honeysuckle honey production

For backyard beekeepers with honeysuckle growing on their property or in the local area, it is certainly possible to produce some honeysuckle honey each year. Here are some tips:

  • Place beehives near established honeysuckle patches during flowering season.
  • Let the bees forage freely and collect nectar from the honeysuckle and other local flowers.
  • Extract the honey during peak honeysuckle bloom before much non-honeysuckle nectar can be collected.
  • Filter the honey carefully to remove small honeysuckle flower parts that may get mixed in.
  • Expect honey yields to be lower than other floral varieties since honeysuckle nectar volumes are small.

Following this approach, it’s realistic for a backyard beekeeper to get 1-2 gallons of predominantly honeysuckle honey each year. The honey will have the signature sweet, slightly tangy taste of honeysuckle along with complexity from other minor nectar sources.

Maximizing honeysuckle nectar collection

To maximize the amount of honeysuckle nectar collected, some targeted practices can help:

  • Select bee-friendly honeysuckle cultivars like Lonicera x brownii, Lonicera tatarica, and Lonicera xylosteum that offer ample nectar reward.
  • Trim and maintain honeysuckle patches to encourage abundant flowering.
  • Cover or relocate beehives away from competing nectar sources like fruit trees during honeysuckle bloom.
  • Add honeysuckle plants strategically around the apiary to provide bees quick access.

Using these methods, a backyard beekeeper could potentially produce a few gallons of honeysuckle dominant honey in a good season.

Characteristics of honeysuckle honey

What does pure honeysuckle honey taste and look like? Here are some of the defining traits:

  • Color – Honeysuckle honey tends to be a light golden amber.
  • Flavor – The flavor profile includes notes of vanilla, citrus, honey, and nectar. Some tangy tartness comes through as well.
  • Aroma – Fragrant and floral with a recognizable honeysuckle bouquet.
  • Sweetness – Honeysuckle honey has a mild to moderate sweetness level.
  • Texture – A smooth, free-flowing viscosity is typical.
  • Crystallization – Honeysuckle honey resists crystallization well due to its high fructose content.

These traits distinguish honeysuckle honey from more common varieties like clover, wildflower, and orange blossom honey. The unique, flowery flavor profile really sets it apart.

Health benefits

Does honeysuckle honey offer any special health benefits compared to other honeys? Here is an overview of some of the key research:

  • Antioxidants – Several studies have found antioxidant compounds like phenolics and flavonoids in honeysuckle honey. These can help combat free radicals and oxidative stress.
  • Anti-inflammatory – The anti-inflammatory effects of honeysuckle honey may benefit conditions aggravated by inflammation.
  • Wound healing – Early research indicates honeysuckle honey supports faster healing of wounds when applied topically.
  • Antimicrobial – Honeysuckle honey demonstrates antimicrobial properties that may help fight certain bacteria and viruses.
  • Digestive health – Nutrients in the honey promote beneficial gut microbes linked to improved digestion.

In many cases, these benefits are attributed to honey in general rather than honeysuckle specifically. However, the unique phytochemical profile of honeysuckle honey may lend itself to enhanced therapeutic effects. More research is needed to determine the mechanisms.

How to use honeysuckle honey

Honeysuckle honey offers versatility as a natural sweetener and ingredient:

  • Drizzle it over yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit for breakfast.
  • Use it in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces to add flavor.
  • Stir it into tea, coffee, or cocktails for a touch of sweetness.
  • Bake it into muffins, cakes, cookies for a floral aroma.
  • Dab on toast or cheese as an appetizer topping.
  • Spread it on biscuits, scones, and rolls in place of jam.
  • Blend with cosmetic products like lotions or masks to nourish skin.

The light, fruity notes of honeysuckle pair especially well with fruits, white meat, and fish. It also complements dairy, nuts, vanilla, citrus, and herbs. Get creative with using honeysuckle honey in both sweet and savory recipes.

Sourcing honeysuckle honey

For those who don’t keep backyard bees, sourcing honeysuckle honey can be tricky. It is rarely found on supermarket shelves with common honey varieties. Here are a few ways to track it down:

  • Contact local beekeepers selling honey at farmers markets and ask if they have any honeysuckle honey available.
  • Check for honeysuckle honey at natural food stores, co-ops, and boutique grocers.
  • Look for online honey companies that sell specialized single floral source honeys.
  • Search for honeysuckle honey on eBay, Etsy, and similar platforms.
  • Post requests in local honey enthusiast Facebook groups or Nextdoor groups asking if anyone has honeysuckle honey to sell.

The limited supply makes pure honeysuckle honey a rare treasure. Buying it locally and in season when honeysuckle is blooming gives you the best chance to acquire some.

Should you pay a premium for honeysuckle honey?

Due to its scarcity, honeysuckle honey commands a higher price than typical grocery store honey. Is it worth paying a premium? Factors to consider include:

  • Production challenges – Low nectar volumes and short bloom period limit supply, increasing production costs.
  • Novel flavor – The unique tropical, slightly tangy flavor has appeal for foodies and honey connoisseurs.
  • Versatility – Honeysuckle honey complements both sweet and savory foods.
  • Therapeutic potential – Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it intriguing as a health supplement.
  • Support small producers – Paying a fair price enables backyard beekeepers to continue producing this specialty honey.

Based on these factors, paying $1-$2 more per ounce for honeysuckle honey compared to standard grocery store varieties seems reasonable for those who can afford it. From a taste and nutrition standpoint, the benefits may justify the price premium.

Risks of harvesting honeysuckle

For DIY hobbyists interested in making honeysuckle honey from wild plants, it’s important to be aware of potential risks:

  • Misidentification – There are poisonous plants that resemble honeysuckle, so proper ID is critical.
  • Toxic nectar – Some honeysuckle species contain toxic hydrogen cyanide in the nectar that can harm bees and contaminate honey.
  • Pesticides – Roadside and backyard honeysuckle may be contaminated with chemicals toxic to bees.
  • Diseases – Gathering nectar from wild plants can expose bees to dangerous pathogens.
  • Invasive species – Removing invasive honeysuckle plants helps stop their spread but may be restricted in some areas.

Backyard beekeepers should take precautions and consult local guidelines when sourcing nectar from honeysuckle patches other than their own cultivated plants. Following best practices helps ensure healthy, high-quality artisanal honeysuckle honey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does honeysuckle honey taste like?

Honeysuckle honey has a light, sweet, floral flavor with tropical fruit notes and a slight tart tanginess. The unique taste comes from the distinct phytochemical profile of honeysuckle nectar.

Is honeysuckle honey good for you?

Early studies suggest honeysuckle honey contains health-promoting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. More research is needed, but these properties point to potential wellness benefits along with the nourishing qualities of honey in general.

What is the best honeysuckle for honey?

For backyard hobby beekeeping, some of the best honeysuckle varieties that produce abundant nectar for bees include Lonicera x brownii, Lonicera tatarica, and Lonicera xylosteum. Other species may work as well in the right climate and growing conditions.

Where can I buy honeysuckle honey?

It is difficult to find in regular supermarkets but may be available from local beekeepers, farmers markets, natural food stores, and online specialty gourmet honey shops. Limited availability makes pure honeysuckle honey a rare artisanal treat.

Is it legal to make honeysuckle honey?

It is legal to produce honeysuckle honey for personal use from cultivated plants or wild honeysuckle on your own property. Foraging honeysuckle nectar from public land may be prohibited in some areas where it is considered an invasive species. Always check local regulations.


Honeysuckle honey remains a rarity due to the challenges of gathering sufficient honeysuckle nectar. But for backyard beekeepers with access to abundant honeysuckle, producing small batches is an attainable goal. The unique flavor and therapeutic potential make honeysuckle honey a worthwhile seasonal treat. Following sustainable practices allows hobbyists to enjoy this special floral honey while protecting bee health. With some patience and effort, you can add a jar of sweet artisanal honeysuckle honey to your pantry.

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