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Food & Wine: Honey

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Images courtesy of Raul Ribeca, Local Vet in Montefiore dell'Aso (AP)


Beekeeping in Le Marche, a region in central Italy, is deeply rooted in its cultural and agricultural heritage. The rolling hills, mountains, and diverse landscapes provide an ideal environment for beekeepers to practice their craft. Local beekeepers, some following generations-old traditions, are known for producing a variety of exquisite honey types, including chestnut honey, acacia honey, wildflower honey, and the highly sought-after white truffle honey, which carries the distinct aroma of truffles found in the region. Beekeeping in Le Marche is more than just a livelihood; it's a time-honoured tradition that contributes to the region's economy and plays a vital role in maintaining the environmental balance of the lush landscapes.


This ancient practice not only yields delicious honey but also has cultural significance. Honey from Le Marche often graces local dishes, desserts, and culinary creations, emphasizing its culinary and cultural importance.

Moreover, beekeepers in Le Marche are dedicated to sustainable and eco-friendly beekeeping practices, ensuring the well-being of their bee colonies and the preservation of the region's biodiversity. Beekeeping in Le Marche is a harmonious blend of tradition, nature, and economic relevance, making it an integral part of the region's identity.

Types of Honey

Le Marche is not only celebrated for its stunning landscapes but also for its thriving honey production. The region's diverse geography, encompassing coastal plains, rolling hills, mountains, and rich vegetation, provides an ideal environment for beekeeping. This overview of honey production in Le Marche will highlight the primary types of honey produced and the key locations for honey production in the region.

1. Wildflower Honey

(Miele di Fiori Selvatici)

This is one of the most common types of honey produced in Le Marche. It is a true reflection of the region's biodiversity, as bees gather nectar from a wide range of wildflowers, including daisies, clover, thistle, and more. The resulting honey is characterized by its golden colour and a complex, multi-floral flavour profile.

3. Chestnut Honey (Miele di Castagno)

Le Marche's mountainous areas are home to an extensive chestnut tree population. Bees collect nectar from chestnut blossoms, producing a dark, robust honey with a distinct, earthy flavor. Chestnut honey is known for its strong, almost bitter taste and is frequently used in culinary applications.

5. Citrus Honey (Miele d'Agrumi)

The temperate climate of Le Marche enables the cultivation of citrus fruits, and bees gather nectar from citrus blossoms. This honey has a light colour and a zesty, fruity flavor, often with notes of lemon or orange, depending on the citrus varieties in the region.

2. Acacia Honey (Miele di Acacia)

Acacia trees are abundant in Le Marche, especially in the coastal plains. The nectar collected from the delicate white blossoms of acacia trees results in a light-coloured honey with a mild, almost transparent appearance. It has a gentle, slightly floral taste and is highly sought after both locally and internationally.

4. Sunflower Honey (Miele di Girasole)

Le Marche's sunflower fields provide a rich source of nectar for bees. Sunflower honey is characterized by its light colour and mild, floral taste, making it a preferred choice for those who prefer a lighter honey variety.

6. Lavender Honey (Miele di Lavanda)

In certain parts of Le Marche, lavender fields bloom, and bees collect nectar from these blossoms. Lavender honey is known for its fragrant aroma and a delicate, sweet taste with hints of lavender's characteristic floral notes.

Bee Species

The region of Le Marche is home to a variety of bee species that play a crucial role in pollination and honey production. It's important to note that Le Marche's bee population includes both native and introduced species. The health and well-being of these bees are essential for the pollination of crops and the maintenance of biodiversity in the region. Conservation efforts, including reducing pesticide use and providing suitable habitats, are crucial for the preservation of these vital pollinators in Le Marche and around the world.

While this is not an exhaustive list, here is an overview of some of the bee species you might find in Le Marche:

1. European Honeybee (Apis mellifera)

The European honeybee is one of the most common bee species worldwide. They are kept by beekeepers for honey production and pollination of various crops. They play a vital role in Le Marche's agriculture.

4. Bumblebees (Bombus spp.)

Bumblebees are known for their robust, furry bodies and are excellent pollinators. Several species can be found in Le Marche, contributing to the pollination of various plants.

7. Mason Bees (Osmia spp.)

Mason bees are solitary bees known for building nests in preexisting holes. They are efficient pollinators and can be found in gardens and natural habitats.

10. Carder Bees (Anthidium spp.)

Carder bees are known for their behaviour of collecting fuzzy plant materials to line their nests. They are important pollinators of various wildflowers.

2. Italian Honeybee

(Apis mellifera ligustica)

A subspecies of the European honeybee, Italian honeybees are well-suited to the Mediterranean climate of Le Marche. Known for their gentle behaviour, they are popular among beekeepers.

5. Mining Bees (Andrenidae)

Mining bees are solitary ground-nesting bees. They are important pollinators for many native plants in the region.

8. Leafcutter Bees (Megachile spp.)

Leafcutter bees are solitary bees known for cutting circular pieces of leaves to construct their nests. They are important pollinators of various plants, including some crops.

3.  Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa spp.)

Carpenter bees are solitary bees known for boring holes into wood. They are important pollinators and can be found in gardens and natural areas.

6. Sweat Bees (Halictidae)

Sweat bees are small bees that are often attracted to the salt in human sweat. They play a role in pollination and are part of the region's native bee fauna.

9. Blue Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria)

Blue mason bees are known for their metallic blue-black appearance. They are effective pollinators and are sometimes used in orchards for pollination services.

11. Cuckoo Bees (Nomada spp.)

Cuckoo bees are cleptoparasitic bees, meaning they lay their eggs in the nests of other bees. They are part of the bee diversity in the region.

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Locations of Honey Production

1. Coastal Plains

The coastal plains of Le Marche, particularly in areas around Ancona and Pesaro, are known for the production of acacia honey. The abundance of acacia trees in this region ensures a steady supply of nectar for bees.

4. Citrus Orchards

In areas where citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are cultivated, such as along the coastal regions and in cities like Senigallia, bees collect nectar for citrus honey.

2. Mountainous Areas

The mountainous regions, including the Apennines, provide ideal conditions for chestnut honey production. Locations such as Montefeltro and Sibillini National Park are known for their chestnut honey.

5. Lavender Fields

Lavender fields are more localized but can be found in parts of Le Marche. Lavender honey production occurs in these areas, often in smaller quantities due to the specific growth of lavender.

3. Sunflower Fields

The central and southern parts of Le Marche, including regions like Fermo and Ascoli Piceno, are rich in sunflower fields, contributing to sunflower honey production.

Le Marche's diverse geography and flora offer an extensive range of honey types, each with its own distinct taste and characteristics. The rich tradition of honey production in this region continues to thrive, and Le Marche's honey is prized both for its unique flavours and its reflection of the natural beauty and biodiversity of the area.

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Honey Festivals

Here's an overview of the main honey festivals in Le Marche, highlighting their locations, approximate dates, and the types of honey they typically showcase:

1. Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco Pregiato di Acqualagna

Location: Acqualagna, Pesaro e Urbino province.
Dates: This prestigious truffle fair takes place from October to November each year.
Types of Honey: While the primary focus is on the white truffle, this fair also features various honey types, including acacia honey, wildflower honey, and chestnut honey, showcasing the rich honey culture of the region.

2. Sagra del Miele a Camerino

Location: Camerino, Macerata province.
Dates: The Honey Festival in Camerino typically takes place during the summer months.
Types of Honey: Camerino's festival celebrates a wide range of honey varieties produced in the region, such as acacia honey, wildflower honey, and chestnut honey.

3. Sagra del Miele a Montecarotto

Location: Montecarotto, Ancona province.
Dates: Montecarotto's Honey Festival is usually held during the summer season.

Types of Honey: The festival highlights local honey types, including acacia honey, wildflower honey, and chestnut honey.

4. Festa del Miele e dell'Apiario a Serra de' Conti

Location: Serra de' Conti, Ancona province.
Dates: The Festival of Honey and Beekeeping in Serra de' Conti often occurs during the summer months.
Types of Honey: This festival showcases various honey varieties, such as acacia honey, wildflower honey, and chestnut honey and places a strong emphasis on beekeeping.

5. Sagra del Miele e delle Api a Frontone

Location: Frontone, Pesaro e Urbino province.
Dates: Frontone's Honey and Bee Festival usually takes place in the summer.
Types of Honey: Frontone's festival offers a diverse selection of local honey, including acacia honey, wildflower honey, and chestnut honey. It also features beekeeping demonstrations and activities.

These honey festivals in Le Marche provide a delightful opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of honey and beekeeping. They offer a chance to savour the various flavours of honey produced in the region and to learn more about beekeeping practices. Be sure to verify specific festival dates, as they can vary from year to year.

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