Here are my tips for buying honey, both for purchasing honey as ethically as you possibly can, avoiding contaminated honey, and the different types of honey available.
During my talks about bees, I have come to realise that many people do not understand why or how honey is made (see the links at the bottom of this feature).
Unfortunately, humanity has already lost touch with many of the aspects of food production, nature and the environment that supports us, although I'm hopeful we are seeing a reverse of this trend.
But enough of that for now, let’s get
back to our tips for buying honey!
Just one word before we go any
further – this website is visited by people from all over the world, and
opportunities to buy honey from independent beekeepers or retailers may
not be a possibility for some people. Hopefully there are some useful
ideas for most visitors to this site.
If possible, find a beekeeper you can trust, who is local to you. Buying honey locally will not only cut down on air miles, it will provide you with the opportunity to ask them questions about the way they keep their bees.
If you are not able to find a local beekeeper, try finding an on-line supplier whose ethics seem good. You could also try your local delicatessen or farmer's market - you may find some lovely suppliers there.
Firstly, the reality of Organic Beekeeping is exceedingly complex, and in some countries, the standards for organic certification of honey are so strict they are unworkable for the majority of beekeepers. In addition, standards may vary by country.
Buying honey that is certified as organic may not
always be quite what it seems. What you can do, is strive
for the ‘as near as possible' standard. Again, find a local beekeeper,
and ask them questions as above!
UPDATE: This page was written some time ago. Regulations change and evolve in different countries. Check your own country and regional regulations regarding the production of organic honey, because the above paragraph may not apply in your region.
Not only do honey bees work very hard to make honey (see How Do Bees Make Honey), individual beekeepers go to a lot of effort and some expense to bring the honey to you! If you are used to purchasing cheap, mass produced honey (perhaps combined with corn syrup), and you then try the real stuff, you will usually notice a significant difference in taste!
So why not try real honey, and savour it! And read more about standards in cheap so-called “honey” - in this report from 2012 (copy and paste the link into your browser):
Perhaps your only option is to purchase from a supermarket. In this case, my recommendation would be:
You can read more about some of the honey that has found its way onto supermarket shelves by visiting my page about high street supermarket honeys.
If you are buying honey, no doubt you will have noticed a vast choice available, such as:
Buying honey is also a matter of consistency and presentation:
At the end of the day, the choice is yours! But on behalf of the bees though, why not: