Frequently Asked Questions
Pollen’s Role in Honey
What is the role of pollen in honey?
Honey is made by honey bees from the nectar of flowers and plants, not pollen. Pollen is actually an accidental guest in honey, brought back by the bee as a source of food for baby bees (the “brood”), or incidentally introduced into the honey through other means, such as during the extraction process. Pollen in honey is sometimes analyzed to help determine the primary floral source. The amount of pollen in honey is minuscule and not enough to impact the nutrient value of honey. Honey is still honey, even without pollen.
Why is most honey filtered?
According to USDA Grading Standards for extracted honey, filtered honey is honey that has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed.
Honey that is filtered by packers is filtered for various reasons:
Many consumers prefer honey that is liquid and stays liquid for a long time.
- All honey crystallizes eventually. Suspended particles and fine air bubbles in honey contribute to faster crystallization. Filtering helps delay crystallization, helping the honey to remain liquid for a much longer period than unfiltered honey.
Many consumers prefer honey to be clear and brilliantly transparent.
- The presence of fine, suspended material (pollen grains, wax, etc.) and air bubbles results in a cloudy appearance that can detract from the appearance. Filtering is done to give a clear brilliant product desired by consumers. For the filtered style of honey, USDA Grading Standards for Extracted Honey give higher grades for honey that has good clarity.
- Honey is filtered to remove extraneous solids that remain after the initial raw processing by the beekeeper.
Various filtration methods are used by the food industry throughout the world. Ultrafiltration, a specific kind of filtration used in the food industry, should not be confused with other filtration methods generally used in the honey industry. When applied to honey, ultrafiltration involves adding water to honey and filtering it under high pressure at the molecular level, then removing the water. It is a much more involved and expensive process which results in a colorless sweetener product that is derived from honey but is not considered “honey” in the U.S.
Honey that is filtered through more traditional methods is still “honey,” even if pollen has been removed along with other fine particles.
What is raw honey?
While there is no official U.S. federal definition of raw honey, the National Honey Board defines raw honey as “ honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without adding heat.” This definition does not have any legal authority, but is provided to help in the understanding of honey and honey terms. The complete honey definitions document created by the National Honey Board is available here. The Definition of Honey
Why does my honey look/taste different than I'm used to?
Honey comes in many colors and flavors - these are called honey varietals and they are determined by the type of flowers the bees visited for nectar. Some are light and sweet; others are dark and bold. Pick the honey you like and enjoy!
Weight of Honey
How much does honey weigh?
Eight fluid ounces (or 1 cup) of honey weighs 12 oz. Be careful in buying and measuring quantities of honey. Honey is typically sold by weight, rather than volume. It is heavier than water; the standard for "fluid ounces", which is why one cup of water is considered 8 fluid ounces, but one cup of honey will actually weigh 12 oz. A gallon of honey weighs approximately 12 lbs.
What is honey’s nutritional information?
Please follow the link below for technical specification about the nutritional components of honey.
Infants and Honey
Why can't I feed honey to my baby less than one year of age?
Honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores that can cause infant botulism - a rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system of young babies (under one year of age). C. botulinum spores are present throughout the environment and may be found in dust, soil and improperly canned foods. Adults and children over one year of age are routinely exposed to, but not normally affected by, C. botulinum spores. Honey is safe to consume during pregnancy and lactation. While infants are susceptible to the infant botulism, adults, including pregnant females, are not. The concern for babies stems from the fact that infants lack the fully developed gastrointestinal tract of older humans. Since the mother is not in danger of developing this condition, the unborn baby is protected. Spores are inactivated when manufactured food products (such as cereals or nuts) receive a roasting heat treatment. Graham crackers or cereal, for example, would not contain any viable microbial spores. For more information on infant botulism, click here.
Does honey have an expiration date?
Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! However, honey is susceptible to physical and chemical changes during storage; it tends to darken and lose its aroma and flavor or crystallize. These are temperature-dependent processes, making the shelf life of honey difficult to define. For practical purposes, a shelf life of two years is often stated. Properly processed, packaged and stored honey retains its quality for a long time. If in doubt, throw it out, and purchase a new jar of honey!
My honey has become solid (crystallized), is it still good?
Crystallization is the natural process by which the glucose in honey precipitates out of the liquid honey. Different varieties of honey will crystallize at different rates, and a few not at all. If your honey crystallizes, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve, or place the honey container, with the cap open, into near boiling water that has been removed from the heat: Or, place the honey in a microwave-safe container with the lid off and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey. Also keep in mind that you can eat the honey in a crystallized form. Just scoop out of the jar and spread it on your toast or drop it in your tea!