Aqua-green honey for your dining pleasure

Far out! I’ve seen pink honey (from candy canes) and red honey (from maraschino cherry juice), but I’ve never seen aqua-green honey until now. Technically, of course, it’s not honey since it wasn’t made from nectar—or at least we don’t think it was made of nectar. Still, it’s a sight to behold.

Judy Scher, a beekeeper in Eugene, Oregon, sent the following photos with a note:

Yesterday, while harvesting honey frames, I found green-blue honey in one of my hives. In 16 years of beekeeping I’ve never seen this. My best guess is that the bees flew to the Lane County Fair (5 blocks from my house) and found a trash can containing a tossed out snow cone, a tossed out cotton candy, or a tossed out sports drink. Our Eugene, Oregon nectar flow is definitely “Closed Until Spring” and the bees are desperate!

Others disagree with Judy’s assessment. Master beekeeper Morris Ostrofsky, with nearly fifty years of beekeeping experience, thinks Judy is wrong. “It’s Kryptonite,” he says. What else?

Nectar from another planet?

Kryptonite, as you know, is the mythical ore from the planet of Krypton that can drain Superman of his magical powers, and sometimes bestow superhuman strength on mere mortals. So Judy, have at it. Drink up. The bees have brought you a great gift.

In case you are curious, Judy did the sniff test and the taste test. She reports that the green liquid didn’t smell “chemical” or taste “off” or minty. Just sweet.

So next time we see Judy she will be carrying entire stacks of honey supers balanced on her fingertips and netting enormous swarms out of the sky with a single swipe of her net. So watch out! You don’t want to be mistaken for a bee.

Seeing red: Honey bees in Utah made red honey from repurposed candy canes. You can also see photos of red honey here.

Honey Bee Suite

Blue-green honey in the comb. © Judy Scher.
Honey comb containing glowing green honey.
The colored syrup may have come from snow cones, cotton candy, or a sports drink.© Judy Scher.
A wax cell full of blue-green honey.
Or maybe it was Kryptonite. © Judy Scher.

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  • Judy is a lot more adventurous than I would be. But then, I am just a meat, potatoes and honey (golden) kind of guy.

  • Far out! You are making me chuckle. Hail to the 1960s, Sister. Groovey honey, right on bees! Power to the beekeepers!

    • Sharon,

      I thought “far out” might resonate with the Kryptonite crowd, but maybe not. Worse, no one noticed my aqua drop cap. After years and years of purple ones, I throw in an appropriately aqua one, and no one notices! I’m losing my touch.

  • Does anyone know if bees extract nectar from plants like Datura if the honey is also poisonous???

    • Pqm,

      Maybe the most famous is California buckeye, whose nectar and pollen are both poisonous to honey bees, but they will collect it. Also rhododendron nectar, although honey bees don’t care much for it.

      • Bees clearly are attracted to toxic substances — neonicotinoids for example. Around here (Olympia WA) I often see bumblebees in significant numbers working rhodies. But bumbles make a relatively small amount of honey — emergency spring supplies.

        What happens when bees get into a vat of something that dilutes / spoils the honey but by color is not be obvious. Or even, what about when bees harvest juice from fruits (grapes, plums) — is the result acceptable “honey”? In either case, how does one know?

        • Glen,

          I don’t think we really do know. There are only so many variables we can control. But, likewise, when you eat food from any source, how do you know what contaminants might be present? Spot testing is sometimes done when inspectors are looking for certain things, but food would be unaffordable if we tested for all possibilities.

  • Heard a story about blue honey once. Bees flew to an M and M factory and made use of the blue dye.

  • One warmer than normal winter afternoon a couple of years ago, my son-in-law left a half full van of Coke outside. It was soon engulfed in hungry bees. At the time I wondered if the bees would be affected by the caffeine in any way and if there would be any caffeine residual in any honey made from that liquid.

  • Of course, in compliance with regulations, I won’t be selling any of this honey as it’s not pure 🙂 But it will definitely be kept in the freezer for the bees during the spring dearth. They need special powers at that time!

    • There is no such thing as cannabis honey. Cannabis is a wind-pollinated plant that doesn’t secrete nectar. However, on occasion bees will collect the pollen.

  • Rusty… the aqua letter was the first letter that caught my eye when I opened your post so I don’t think you are losing it…. it’s one of my favourite colours.

  • Rusty,

    I am always grateful for your website and insight on bee management. Loved the syrup debate!!

    I want to make you aware (if you are not already) of a recent National Geographic article, July 2017 pgs 80-97. “The Last Honey Hunter”. Absolutely amazing. The reported psychotropic effects of the harvested honey were brought to mind after looking at “green honey”. There is also a short National Geographic video at natgeo.com/honeyhunters360.

    I am pretty certain you would enjoy the article. It is amazing what the honey hunters do compared to some of our concerns getting honey.

    John Wheeler

  • Well, if I found it in any of my honey frames, I would not do the taste test.
    That shade of green (on my monitor) is near enough an exact match for the green they dye rat poison and 1080 pellets with……….

    • Jeff,

      Most rat poison, including 1080, are solid and not sweet. No way would bees collect it. Plus, in chem lab we often tasted things to help determine what they were. You can always spit, if you decide it’s not good. I believe in moderation of all things, including caution.

  • Chances are it’s sugar water that was being fed to someones elses bees. People around here will color their sugar water for the bees so they know not to extract it at the next honey extraction. I heard about someone in our beekeepers group that had red honey from a hummingbird feeder a few years ago.

  • Jeff, have you heard reports of green honey being found near 1080 drop areas?
    You may have heard of an Indian family from Putaruru in NZ poisoned by contaminated wild pig, with the hospital changing the story many times. Sure sign of a cover up.
    Being a newbie to beekeeping there is a lot to learn.My concern is with a range of 5km + even in town there are 1080/brodificoum & other nasties laid in gullies often backing onto residences with children which could be fed on by hungry bees. It is quite safe though there are warning signs.

  • Please check it out in webpage. I have green and black honey with documentations and test analysis of the honey. This honey harvested in Surigao, Islands of Mindanao, PHILIPPINES.