Honey is known for its sweetness, but it’s also a great source of nutrients, including iron, antioxidants, and amino acids. Across the world, there are all kinds of animals that eat honey. Some animals will even raid beehives to get the honey they’re craving.
What kinds of animals feed on honey, and why do they like it so much? All of these animals include honey in their diets.
10 Animals That Eat Honey
Bees make honey, but they also love to eat it. Every species of bee that produces honey feeds on the honey that it creates. Since honey is primarily made of sugars, it’s a great source of carbohydrates, and it can give bees the energy they need to fly around and gather nectar.
While bees feed on the honey from their own hives, it’s rare for bees to eat honey from other hives. Honey can contain parasites that can be harmful to bees. If a bee were to eat honey from another colony, it could be fatal to the bee.
Fictional bears like Winnie the Pooh are known for their love of honey, and you’ll also see this behavior in bears in the wild! In fact, nearly every species of bear will eat honey when it’s available. With that said, honey isn’t the only thing that bears like to eat.
While bears do like the taste of honey, they’re also drawn to bee larvae! Immature bees are an excellent source of protein, which a bear needs in its diet. Typically, a bear will go after honey and the brood comb, which is where the queen bee lays her eggs.
3. Honey Badgers
True to its name, the honey badger is a big fan of honey! These badgers have extremely strong claws, which they can use to grab bee’s nests. Since honey badgers have coarse hair and thick layers of fat, they’re able to withstand bee stings as they eat.
Similar to bears, a honey badger’s main target is the brood comb rather than the honey itself. In fact, these badgers are actually carnivores! Honey badgers may prefer bee larvae to honey, but honey is still something that they eat on a regular basis!
Martens are furry animals that are known for their resemblance to weasels. Not only will these animals seek out beehives, but they often attack apiaries so that they can eat the honeys and bees inside. Martens have large paws with retractable claws, which they use to open up cracks in both hives and apiaries.
While martens love to eat honey, they’re omnivores and enjoy many other types of food, including berries, seeds, eggs, and insects. It’s also common for martens to feed on birds and mammals, such as rabbits and voles.
5. Small Hive Beetles
These beetles lay their eggs on beehives! When the larvae hatch, they tunnel through the honeycomb, allowing them to eat the honey and the pollen that’s stored inside. This can cause significant damage to hives and can even destroy bee colonies.
When hive beetles infest colonies, it can also damage the quality of the honey. Due to the damage that larvae cause to hives, the honey stored inside the hive may start to ferment. Larvae also leave feces in honey, causing the honey to become discolored.
Raccoons are opportunistic eaters that are happy to enjoy all kinds of foods, including honey. While many animals eat both bees and honey, raccoons only feed on honey. They can do a lot of damage to beehives and apiaries, making them a threat to beekeepers.
The raccoon is a very intelligent animal, and it’s actually able to open up apiaries, allowing them to get the honey inside. This behavior also allows bees to escape. A hungry raccoon can be persistent, and beekeepers may have to take precautionary measures to keep raccoons from eating all of their honey.
Honeyguides are a type of bird that’s able to track bee colonies! Once it finds a hive, it opens the hive and feeds on the honey inside. It also eats beeswax and bee larvae.
Since these birds are so skilled at finding beehives, they also help humans find honey! Wild honeyguides respond to human calls and will lead people to bee colonies. These birds are more likely to guide people to bees when they’re hungry.
Skunks are opportunistic omnivores and are happy to eat a variety of foods, including insects, fruit, and seeds. These animals also love to eat honey and bees! In fact, skunks are considered to be a dangerous predator to bees!
When a skunk finds a beehive, it will usually scratch on the hive to lure bees out. The skunk swats away the bees that try to defend the hive and feeds on them. Even though a skunk’s main focus is the bees, they’ll also eat the honey stores inside the hive if they’re hungry enough.
9. Honey Buzzards
The honey buzzard is considered to be a specialist feeder. While it will sometimes eat small birds and reptiles, its primary food source is wasps and bees. When it feeds on bees, it will also eat honeycomb and honey.
These birds are often found in large flocks, especially during migration. You can find honey buzzards all over the globe. Even though these birds mostly feed on winged insects and honey, they’re considered to be birds of prey.
People occasionally say that it’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar, and that saying definitely holds true! Flies are naturally drawn to sweet and sugary foods. This is because sugars are an easy way for flies to get the energy they need to stay airborne.
Even though flies are drawn to honey, eating honey doesn’t always go well for them. Research shows that a high-sugar diet can significantly shorten a fly’s lifespan. On top of that, if a fly isn’t careful, it could get stuck in honey as it feeds, which could be deadly to the fly.