Sweet Mystery – North Carolina’s Bees Produce Purple Honey

The Sandhills of North Carolina is said to be the only place in the world where bees produce purple honey, an iridescent concoction that looks more like alien goo than the sweet nectar we know and love.

From the expensive yet bitter Corbezzolo Honey to the meat honey produced by vulture bees, we’ve featured some unusual types of honey here on Oddity Central over the years. However, none of them are as visually striking as the purple honey produced in North Carolina. It sounds like the stuff of legends, something to lure honey and beekeeping aficionados from around the world, but this extremely rare liquid is quite real. Purple honey is said to be sweeter than the amber kind and apparently has some subtle fruit notes as well.

Photo: @GoldenChinchilla/Reddit

Some photos of purple honey jars recently went viral on Reddit and sparked a heated discussion on whether this unusual-looking treat was real or not. But it turns out that to the people of North Carolina, it’s less of a curiosity and more of a hard-to-come-by treat. It’s hard to get your hands on pink honey even in North Carolina, but its existence is irrefutable.

The color of honey, from light yellow to deep amber, depends on the type of flower that the nectar comes from, but in the case of purple honey, the cause is yet to be determined. Some swear that it comes from fruits like blueberries or huckleberries, although scientists and beekeepers will tell you that bees don’t have strong enough teeth to bite through the skin of such berries. Others say that the flowers of the Kudzu plant produce the unusual color, while a few are convinced that it’s the southern leatherwood. In reality, no one really knows for sure.

According to Professor John Ambrose from North Carolina State University, purple honey might be the result of a chemical reaction between the acid in the bees’ stomachs and aluminum. Apparently, the flowers in coastal North Carolina contain more aluminum than anywhere else, which would explain why this rare honey is only produced in North Carolina.

Many of those lucky enough to have tried purple honey claim that it actually tastes purple, with a subtle taste of grapes or berries.


“It’s sweet. It’s produced by the bees, but it has a fruity undertone to it,” beekeeper Donald Dees said. “It kind of goes with the unusual character of the honey being purple. It’s a fruity flavor that really no one can identify.”

Purple honey is a rare treat that usually commands a higher price than the amber kind, but with all the attention it has been getting online lately, demand has increased even more, with North Carolina beekeepers reporting orders coming in from all over the world.


“I’ve got it on hold,” Dees said. “I’ve got a few orders left to fill. “I couldn’t keep up with the orders there for about three or four days. I mean, I had to shut the website off, so I could get caught up with the orders to make sure I didn’t sell more than I had.”