What is honey?  A thick syrup made by honeybees.

What’s the difference between raw and regular or supermarket honey?  The difference is in how they are processed.

How is raw honey made?  When I harvest the honey my bees make, I start with a 5-gallon food-grade, plastic bottling bucket with an on-off gate used to release the honey during bottling time.   I place a fine mesh over the top of the bucket to strain out any bee wings, bee legs or bits of wax.  The mesh covered bucket is then placed under the gate of the honey extractor.  I open the gate to the extractor slowly and watch the golden goodness flow, in the same state as it was in the hive.  I don’t use any of the techniques found in supermarket honey that result in removal of pollen, antioxidants and nutrients naturally found in honey straight from the hive.

How is regular supermarket honey made?  Regular supermarket honey involves more steps in getting the honey from the hive to the table.  According to a test by Food Safety News more than 75% of the honey sold in stores aren’t even honey.

One process used to make this type of honey is pasteurization.  This involves heating the honey to a high temperature so as to remove the yeast, thus making it last longer on the shelf.  Another process is filtration.  This removes additional debris, giving the honey a clear look that customers like.  Additionally, regular honey can go through an ultra-filtration process. Although it makes the honey more transparent, it also can remove the beneficial properties in honey like pollen.  If there is no pollen, it isn’t real honey.

Fake honey can be made by adding syrups from rice, sugar cane or corn.  This is usually done because this type of “honey” is cheaper to make and easier to produce.  Though not harmful, it does change the glycemic index of the honey.

The take-away?  It’s best to buy your honey from a local beekeeper so you can get all your questions answered.  Sample their honey.  Ask if they are a beekeeper?  Are they knowledgeable about their honey?  Do they filter or heat their honey?  Look at their presentation.  Does it show best sanitary practices?

Lastly, honey that has its original ingredients, that have not been overly processed or added to, may be a better choice for healthy living.