Aloe plants native to Africa provide the red-orange or yellow flowers and reddish-pink pollen for the production of aloe honey. The most common variety in South Africa is the bont aalwyn aloe (Aloe greatheadii var. davyana) that flowers profusely in the winter months of June to August. This plant is found in abundance in northern and especially northeastern South Africa. The best quality honey is produced when conditions are very dry, and aloe honey is one of the few foods that can be produced locally in the winter. This aloe produces a very pale, light colored, smooth honey that crystalizes quickly. The crystalized honey is used to make a creamed honey. Care must be taken due to the high water and yeast concentration to prevent fermentation. The quality of the honey is high, but the quantity produced is low to average at 6 – 10 kg per hive. This is because the long, slender calyx tubes of the aloe flowers are difficult for the honeybees (Apis mellifera scutellata) to enter. Aloe honey has been collected in South Africa since at least the 1930s. Today, production averages 40 – 50 tons per year, down from 120 – 150 tons per year in the 1980s. This decrease is due in part to development of the land where the aloe grows, the introduction of grazing animals, fire and crime in the area.
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