Sometimes, when Devash is mentioned in scriptural passages, Rashi observes that the Hebrew word is general and included many sweet fluids.
For example, Leviticus 2:11 commands “For you shall not cause to go up in smoke any leavening or any Devash”; Rashi remarks that any sweet fruit extract is called Devash. At Deuteronomy 26:02, Rashi discusses Deuteronomy 8:8 and the identity of Devash as date honey.
At these places, I have always thought that Rashi was trying to correct the assumption that bees’ honey was intended; Rashi meant that not only bees’ honey was included, but a broader class of sweet fluids. But I wonder: maybe bees’ honey really has nothing to do with it at all, and Rashi thought some other example would come to the reader’s mind, like molasses made from sugar cane; and he was broadening from that narrow case. I’m trying to figure out what suggested bees and whether that association is correct.
In the first place, of course, the use of the word English “honey” suggests bees. And perhaps the translators choose the word “honey” because of Judges 14, which seems to be the one clear scriptural association of Devash to bees. Translation of some other passages use the word “honeycomb,” as Psalm 19:11 and Proverbs 27:7; but the latter refers to trampling a “honeycomb”, and since it would be unlikely that anyone would trample a beehive, perhaps that translation should be questioned.
I suppose that the flow of thought in the Deuteronomy citations, and the emphasis on products of the land, seemed motivated by the idea that bees’ honey is not a product of the land because bees are flying animals. But maybe Rashi meant that sugar cane could not be the intended Devash, because the land of Israel is praised for dates but not for sugar cane.
At 1 Samuel 14:25 to 27 and Song of Songs 5:1, Rashi seems clearly to understand that bees don’t enter into it, although English translations there might use the word “honey.” Similarly, in Deuteronomy 32:13, there seems to be no thought of bees.
So perhaps the correct translation of Devash is “syrup” or "molasses"?