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What about the other 125 species of maple?

Since I wrote about bigleaf maple honey, several people have asked if other maple species produce honey. I dug around a bit and found that most maples are excellent producers of both nectar and pollen. However, they bloom very early in the spring–generally from February to April–and most of the time the weather is just too cold or too wet for the honey bees to collect much. What they do collect is often consumed immediately in order to build comb and raise brood for spring.

So it seems that any harvestable maple honey is a hit or miss, weather dependent kind of thing . . . but some species are more reliable than others.

Here in North America several sources named red maple (Acer rubrum) , sometimes called swamp maple, as producing an occasional honey crop. Likewise, sugar maples (A. saccharum) and silver maples (A. saccharinum) are extremely attractive to honey bees and may, on occasion, produce a harvestable crop.

Vine maple (A. circinatum) grows out here in the same region as the bigleaf maples (A. macrophyllum). John Lovell in his book Honey Plants of North America (1926) writes of vine maple, “The honey has a fine flavor and is white or amber-colored with a faint pinkish tinge.”

So if you want a taste of maple, you may have to raid a brood box as I described earlier. Don’t take so much that you hurt your spring build-up and be careful not to chill your brood in the process. Still, if you can swing it, it is definitely worth the effort.

Rusty

HoneyBeeSuite.com

Honey bee on red maple flower. Photo courtesy of Scott Famous.

Comments

Raul and Amber
Reply

Thanks for the info! We have a maple tree but it was too cold and wet while it bloomed.

Now i am hoping they go after our service berry tree. Mostly for the pollination!

John
Reply

Hi Rusty,

Are you able to offer any insight on your experience with the taste and color of maple honey? I am in Wisconsin and had my “super hive” (huge numbers of spring bees) produce a darker amber honey from early in the season this year in and around the months of April to mid May. It has almost a maple hint to it hence my question. Many thanks to you and your dedication to helping us all learn more about bees 🙂

Sincerely,
John

Rusty
Reply

John,

I would say maple honey is medium to light amber, at least from the big-leaf maples we have here. The flavor is excellent, but nothing like the flavor of maple syrup or what we consider “maple-flavored.”

John
Reply

Thanks Rusty! Yes, the color is medium to darker amber color. Pretty rich and a little buttery flavor but very good and flavorful. Thanks again! John

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