Honey bees obtain flower honey by maturing the nectar in the flower. For the production of pine honey, the insect Marchalina Hellenica, which lives on red pine, is needed. Marchalina Hellenica feeds by sucking the sap of the red pine and leaves the remaining sap on the tree as a sweet substance. This secretion, which is very rich in minerals and antioxidants, is matured by the honey bee and turned into pine honey. The secretion is called honeydew.
Honeydew is a secretion created by Marchalina Hellenica, an insect feeding on trees. Marchalina Hellenica leaves honeydew by sucking the sap of the pine tree for its own nutritional needs. A food chain is formed with a cycle that takes place in ecological balance and harmony. Honeydew, which is very rich in protein, minerals, and enzymes, is then taken by the honey bees and transported to the hive. The secretions stored in the cells of the comb both meet the nutritional needs of the bees and turn into a delicious type of honey.
Bees Make Pine Honey Using Honeydew
Although plants can be pollinated by the wind, this completely unconscious and random pollinator cannot be trusted, as one would expect. But insects, especially honeybees, can be trusted much more. Because honey bees also need the pollen secreted by the flower to survive. Thanks to this mutualistic way of life, flowers ensure their reproduction and honey bees guarantee their food supply! As a matter of fact, this unique feature of honey bees puts them in a very important place in the world of living things.
But things get a little messy when it comes to coniferous trees like pine and fir trees, aka plants that aren’t blooming. Bees can somehow extract the food source even from these non-blooming plants. However, these bees make the sugar that plants produce by photosynthesis, this time by obtaining them indirectly, not directly from the plant’s reproductive organs.
The answer to this indirect method is actually very simple. Everything starts when an insect with a light yellow color, whose scientific name is Marchalina Hellenica, stays in the pine trees and meets its nutritional needs. This insect species, especially seen in the red pine forests, starts to consume the nutrients it needs, by settling in the cracks in the trunk bark, breaking down the woody structure with the enzymes it secretes, reaching the cambial region where the organic matter transition is experienced, and consuming the nutrients produced by the tree in order to maintain its own vital activities.
It also leaves a white, lint-like secretion, which is thought by scientists to camouflage itself as this white, cottony covering hides from potential enemies. Ultimately, when viewed from afar, white patches remain on the tree – which alerts us to the presence of this insect. When it consumes the food, after taking the substances necessary for it, it leaves the remaining sugar-rich part on the pine tree by defecating in the form of reddish droplets.
This is where honey bees come into play. This sugary waste material, which the insect does not need, suddenly becomes the raw material of a special food source for honey bees on the pine tree. What we will understand is that without being completely dependent on flower pollen, honey bees would be able to produce their own food, namely pine honey, by collecting this sugary waste material as its substitute!
Perhaps the most important conclusion we can draw from this is the diversity in life and the natural balance it creates. Although this harmony between flowering plants and honey bees, which form a way of life on mutual utilitarianism, is wonderful; An insect species living on its own on a pine tree defecating organic matter it does not need, may suddenly turn into a completely different option for honey bees, and ultimately, new life forms and evolutionary advantages may emerge thanks to this diversity in nature.
However, in order to produce more pine honey, humans have deliberately released these insects into pine forests, which has had to cope with unusual insect infestations. As a result, serious diseases and deaths occurred in many pine trees.
What Is Pine Honey?
Pine honey is very special honey in terms of obtaining and value. Pine honey, like other types of honey, is not produced by bees from bees’ pollen. Pine honey is usually obtained with the secretions of an insect found in the trunk of pine trees in Mediterranean climates. Pine honey is a type of honey that is not produced in any country other than Turkey and Greece. For this reason, the production geography of pine honey is very limited.
The name of the insect that produces pine honey and lives in pine trees is Marchalina Hellenica. Marchalina Hellenica does not appear on every pine tree. It is generally seen in red pine, black pine, and Aleppo pine species found in the Mediterranean Region. Pine honey is produced by feeding Marchalina Hellenica, which is found in the pine tree, by absorbing the sap inside the tree. The insect sends the sap in the tree to the trunk of the tree as feces.
These liquids, which are usually defecated in July and October, are collected by bees. The most important feature of this stool is that it is very sweet and nutritious. Pine honey producers need to protect these insects, which secrete pine honey and live on pine trees, very carefully. Since the bees have a great interest in the liquid that makes up the pine honey, they may damage the tree and the insect.
The insect that produces pine honey generally lives in pine trees on the coastline of Mediterranean towns. The most important feature that distinguishes this honey from other types of honey is that it is preserved for a long time without spoiling and freezing. For this reason, pine honey is a very important source of income for the region where it is produced. The color of pine honey is darker than other types of honey. The most effective disease of pine honey is respiratory tract infections.
Pine honey is generally used as a natural additive in ice cream, medicine, and various foods. It also draws attention as an important export food source.
Honey Dew and Pine Honey
Honey is one of the greatest blessings bees offer to humans. Most of us think that honey, which is a natural and healthy source of sugar, is produced only from flowers. But pine honey has a production process that will change our thinking. Let’s learn together how and under what conditions pine honey is produced in the following paragraphs.
This incredible honey produced by bees, who have made important contributions to the flawless functioning of life, is produced from insect secretions (honeydew), not from flower essences, as is believed. Pine honey is made from an insect called “Marchalina Hellenica” that lives on pine trees. These insects live only in Greece and Turkey.
Under normal conditions, honey is produced in two ways as flower honey and secretory honey. While producing flower honey, bees collect the essences from the flowers. In the production of secretory honey, the secretions left by insects on trees are collected. This insect species mostly lives in red pine, yellow pine, and stone pine. Insects enter through the bark of pine trees and suck the sap of these trees. After meeting the nutrients necessary for life, they leave their excrement on the surface of the tree. This waste is called honeydew. The sugar content of honeydew is very high. The bees process this secretion in the trees with their enzymes and turn it into pine honey.
Its color is darker than other honey types and its taste is resinous. Its consistency is dense because of its low water content. In this way, it can be stored for a longer time without crystallization. It has been proven as a result of research that it is rich in amino acid and mineral care. It is known to have higher antioxidant properties than other honey types. These antioxidants are pinocembrin, Pinobaxin, chrysin, and galanin. Pinocembrin is an antioxidant found only in honey.
Honey Production Without Flowers
Many plants use pollination to reproduce, leaving the wind and pollen-feeding insects to protect their species. Honey Bees are their biggest helpers in this regard after the wind. While plants feed the Honey Bees to reproduce, the bees also feed and produce honey thanks to them. Bees generally maintain this ecological balance through flowers. However, Honey Bees produce honey by taking sugar from some plants that do not bloom, such as pine trees. So how can they achieve this?
Here another creature comes into play. Known for its light yellow color and living on pine trees, its Latin name is Marchalina Hellenica. The honeydew secreted by Marchalina Hellenica is collected by bees and used to produce pine honey. Honey produced from such plants is called “secretory honey”. Phloem sap, which is among the raw materials of honey, is abundant in honeydew secretion.
Let’s open a parenthesis here and remind you that the plants that bees produce honey are called “Honey Plants”. Honey plants are divided into two as “the ones whose nectar is used” and “the ones whose secretions are used”. Nectar-bearing plants such as Acacia, Sainfoin, and Willow usually have flowers, if they do not have flowers, they have nectar glands on the stem or leaves of the plant.
In secretory plants such as pine, an insect such as Marchalina Hellenica comes into play and produces secretions. Returning to our topic, Marchalina Hellenica, which lives in pine trees, usually settles in the cracks of the trunk bark of the plants. It breaks down the woody structure of the plant with the enzymes it secretes. It starts to absorb the food it needs by reaching the veins where the organic matter transition is experienced, called the cambial region.
Providing its own food with its parasitic lifestyle, Marchalina Hellenica also leaves a cotton-like secretion on the tree to protect and hide from its enemies. On the other hand, they produce excrement and leave reddish droplets in which sugar is abundant, which does not suit their diet. At this point, Honey Bees come into play. It takes the sugary waste material that does not work for Marchalina Hellenica and uses it in honey production. In this way, it realizes the production of Pine Honey.
The balance in nature maintains with such Mutual Benefit interesting collaborations created by the diversity of life. Human greed is one of the most important factors that cause the deterioration of balance. People who constantly want “more” threaten the natural balance in this area as well. Realizing that the bees use Marchalina Hellenica, the beekeepers produce more Marchalina Hellenica and release it to the pine forests in the hope of producing more Pine Honey.
However, there is a fine point in this natural balance that people cannot calculate. Pine trees are getting sick and dying because they have to feed too much Marchalina Hellenica. In short, while people expect more honey, they cause a decrease in the amount of honey they produce.
Characteristics of Marchalina Hellenica: The Source of Honeydew
Eggs of Marchalina Hellenica are light yellow, 0.72 mm long and 0.37 mm wide. In thrush, the eggs are not attached to each other. Females lay their eggs on the part of the tree branch that receives less sunlight. The female cochlea is lemon yellow in color and has a rounded back. Their antennae have 11 rings, as in worker bees. Their eyes are well developed. Their mouth is slit-shaped. They have a short hose.
The average length of the adults is 7.57 mm, and the average width is 3.60 mm. They don’t have wings. It has 3 pairs of legs. They move 36-120 cm in an hour. The male cochlea is blackish dark brown. Their antennas have 9 segments. Mouthparts atrophied. Their length is on average 1.73 mm, and their width is 0.80 mm.
Larvae hatch 6 weeks after the conch eggs. Larvae become adults by changing the shirt 3 times. They have a life span of up to one year. The total nymph (larvae) period of Kochnil lasts 318-322 days. Females lay eggs once a year. Eggs are generally laid in early May, but this period lasts from early April to mid-May depending on the altitude. In favorable weather conditions, the first honeydew begins to appear in this period.
Adult female mouthparts cannot be fed because they do not develop. In this process, adult females begin to secrete thrush for 2-4 days. They then die by laying 200-300 eggs for 3-12 days. After a six-week incubation period, the hatched larvae develop and form the 1st instar nymphs in the August-September period. In this period, depending on the weather conditions, after a feeding period of 15-30 days, they enter the second nymph period in October-November.
During this period, they are fed for 15-30 days depending on the weather conditions and enter the winter as 3rd-period nymphs. Thus, the 1-year cycle is completed. Beekeepers who spend the winter in honeydew can benefit from the secretions of the 1st nymph feeding period in the January-February period. However, the main production periods are August-September and October-November. Since the period of the strongest secretion is August-September, this period is more preferred by beekeepers. However, this period also includes the risk of cutting honey due to extreme temperatures.
Although October-November is not as productive as the previous period, it is not risky. During this period, colonies also have the opportunity to collect pollen and produce offspring. They constantly feed by inserting their trunks into the tree’s transmission bundles between the bark of the pine trees. Since the amount of protein in the sap in the transmission bundle is low, they make a large amount of sucking to meet their needs. They expel the excess of sap containing 80% carbohydrates through the anus.
The bees carry this rose-red and fragrant excrement to their hives and turn it into honey. In low places, after the first molting of the cochineal, honeydew, which can be collected by bees, begin to be secreted in the last week of June, and this period reaches the last days of July in high places. During the production of pine honey, the number of adult bees in the colony will decrease as the pollen sources are not sufficient in the environment. For this reason, when beekeepers will bring their colonies to the pine fields, they should have taken measures to renew their queen bees, fight diseases and pests, and increase the number of adult bees, starting from the spring months.
Pine Honey Facts
Pine honey is exceptional honey that bees produce not from flower pollen but from the secretion of an intermediary insect living in the trunk of some pine tree species native to the Mediterranean climate. It is found only in Turkey and Greece in the world. An insect called Marchalina Hellenica is needed to produce pine honey. This insect lives only in red pine, larch, and Aleppo pine. In zoology, this insect is known as Marchalina Hellenica within the aphids classification and also as Monophlebus Hellecinus.
The Marchalina Hellenica beetle feeds by sucking the sap of the pine and excretes the remaining sap as a sweet substance. This liquid secreted by Marchalina Hellenica between July and October is loved by bees. This sugary residue of the insect is collected by bees. In pine trees, insects lay eggs on the ground-level parts of the tree trunks, and the born offspring climb the tree slowly and sucking the sap of the pine.
Since they die in years with harsh winters, in such cases, beekeepers collect the wax in which the insect accumulates in the winter from areas where it is abundant and take it to their own area and leave it covered with brushwood to protect it from the cold. This should be done at the latest in April when the winter candle remains intact. Otherwise, the insects will not be able to withstand the journey, and the breeding season in May will be jeopardized.
Another point that beekeepers pay attention to when leaving their beehives (for the bees to produce pine honey) to the pine is not to keep the bees in this area too much. Because, if the bees that produce honey from insect secretion are left in the pine for a very long time (maximum 20 days), the queen reduces egg-laying over time, since there is no pollen in the pine trees at that time. Therefore, the hive weakens. The practice of giving ready-made pollen cakes to maintain the productivity of the queen bee is also becoming widespread. On the other hand, if pine honey is to be produced, it is important that there are not many flowers in the environment so that the bee does not leave the pine and turn to flower pollen.
The most important feature of pine honey is that it can be stored for years without losing its consistency or freezing. Therefore, it is also easy to market. Its color is darker than most of the flower honey. Although its nutritional value is slightly lower, it is especially good for throat ailments. With its resistance to crystallization and its preventive properties, pine honey is a product with a wide range of use as a natural additive in various products (for example, ice creams), in the medicine and food industry, and with significant export potential.
Benefits of Pine Honey
Pine honey has a corrective effect on hair roots and weak roots. Pine Honey nourishes the hair and contributes to the strengthening of the hair follicles. Pine honey has a content that fulfills a person’s energy, and thanks to this feature, fatigue symptoms are not observed in people who consume it frequently. The energy of pine honey relieves fatigue and eliminates the feeling of sluggishness.
One of the most common diseases in the world is high blood pressure. With its special mineral and healing properties, pine honey is very beneficial for people with high blood pressure to lower their blood pressure and keep it in balance.
Although pine honey normally has an acidic structure, it contains fructose glucose in terms of sugar. Although pine honey contains high acidity, it is easily digested even for the most sensitive stomach. It does not cause indigestion and has a stomach therapeutic structure. Pine honey has the ability to absorb moisture from the air. In this way, the extracts in their content accelerate the regeneration activity of cells by dissolving a wound and inflammation. This acceleration process occurs with a special structure that nourishes the cells and skin. Other benefits of pine honey include:
- It is good for cold, cough, and sore throat.
- It corrects eye disorder and allows the eyes to see better.
- It removes the irregularity that disrupts the heart rhythm.
- It is good for anemia and strengthens the immune system.
- It shows a full effect for those who suffer from atherosclerosis. It opens the veins and breathes.
- It prevents stomach ailments.
- It prevents allergic reactions and prevents the formation of allergies.
- It fixes diarrhea.
- It has a natural pain relief effect that prevents aches and pains.
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