The ant and the aphids
Honeybees produce Forest Honey and Fir Tree Honey using a sweet substance known as honeydew that’s secreted by aphids. In fact, the aphid ingests the tree sap before releasing this delicacy.
Amongst the different insects that collect honeydew, certain species of ant, such as the red forest ant, deserve special mention. They play an important role in the life of aphids.
During the winter months, the ants carry the females into the ground and watch over them until the birth of the young during the spring. To protect the young aphids from predators, the ants carry them high into the treetops. The ants protect and raise the aphids, which in turn produce honeydew for the ants to eat.
The development of aphid colonies varies greatly from one year to the next. In favourable conditions, there can be a proliferation of aphids producing honeydew in hedges, oak, linden, maple, chestnut, poplar, ash, willow, and other trees. The result is the base for Forest Honey.