Brazil is a large enough country to host different biomes, climates, and temperatures. This factor alone could explain the diversity in the food we can produce. But when it comes to honey, there is more to find out.
As an organized form of honey extraction and production, beekeeping began in Brazil with the hives brought systematically by immigrants between the 19th and 20th centuries. It expanded from 1956 onwards, with the cross-breeding of European and African species, which resulted in the Africanized bee race Appis melifera.
This is the bee that provides the best-known jars of honey in the country. The variety of flavors, nuances, textures, and medicinal aspects comes from the different blossoms, the most common of which are those of eucalyptus, orange, cipó-uva, assa-peixe, and aroeira.
Eucalyptus: Relatively dark honey, rich in minerals, generally used as an expectorant. Produced mainly in the Brazilian South and Southeast regions.
Orange blossom: Clear honey, appealing for its typical aroma and its coloring. Mainly produced in São Paulo and Minas Gerais states.
Cipó-uva: Transparent honey, which usually pleases consumers for its color, aroma, and flowery taste. Mainly produced in the Cerrado biome areas in Minas Gerais.
Assa-peixe: Clear and translucent, it has a light flavor. Produced in the North, Southeast, and Midwest regions.
Aroeira: Dark honey, known for its medicinal aspects and popular in the Minas Gerais state.
Multi-floral: If honey does have a predominant bloom, we say that it is multi-floral, sold under the name “silvestre” (wild). In these cases, the honey has a greater richness of flavors and is more related to the plants that bloom in that specific region.
More bees, more honey
The diversity of Brazilian honey is not only in the flowers. Today, Brazil counts 250 species of stingless bees. And several of them produce marketable honey. Regarding these bees, the flowers do not influence the flavor of the final product. Learn more about some of them:
Mandaçaia (Melipona quadrifasciata): Clear, sometimes transparent honey. It has a light taste with a citric touch. Produced mainly in the Brazilian South and Southeast regions.
Jataí (Tetragonisca angustula): Light and slightly acidic honey, with woody notes and fine texture. It is used in popular culture for its medicinal aspects. Produced all over Brazil.
Bugia (Melipona mondury): Light honey with a mild flavor and delicate floral aromas. Produced mainly in the South and Southeast regions.
Tiúba or Uruçu-cinzenta (Melipona fasciculata): Very sweet and usually transparent honey, with intense floral scents. Produced mainly in the Maranhão and Pará states.
Borá (Tetragona clavipes): A peculiar and sophisticated type of honey. It is deemed a delicacy for its slightly salty flavor, reminiscent of cheese. It is great to season salads and combines well with savory dishes and white meat, such as fish and chicken. Produced all over Brazil.
Tubuna (Scaptotrigona bipunctata): Honey with intense aromas and a sometimes bittersweet flavor. It is great to season sweet and sour salads and cheeses with intense flavors. Produced in the South and Southeast regions.
Mandaguari (Scaptotrigona depilis): A more viscous honey with a slight bitterness, its color may vary from almost transparent to dark amber. When crystallized it becomes a creamy paste with an incredible flavor. Produced mainly in the South and Southeast regions.
Brazilian honey exports
Brazilian beekeepers are predominantly small-sized producers — they have up to 50 hives. Small and medium Brazilian rural entrepreneurs are increasingly empowered to export their products, accounting for 60.2% of national production.
In 2020, Brazil produced a total volume of 51.5 tons of honey, with an estimated production worth R$ 115.5 million. In 2021, the revenue yield from honey exports increased 76% over the previous year, from US$ 98.5 million to US$ 163 million. In terms of volume, Brazil traded almost 47 thousand tons of honey, with a growth of 6%. The main export destination of honey was the United States, with about 70% of the whole volume traded. The Brazilian states that exported the most were Piauí and Santa Catarina.
You can find some varieties of honey and other Brazilian beekeeping products ready for importation by visiting our virtual showcase at Agro.br. The platform includes direct contact with the producers, as well as information about their products and farms.