What Is Honey?

a slab of Comb honey on a white plateComb honey.

What Is Honey? – A Definition

Honey is a sweet product made from flower nectar, combined with an enzyme secreted by honey bees, then concentrated by reducing moisture in the honeycomb cells.

A basic scientific formula is as follows:

Sucrose (nectar)
invertase (bee enzyme)
fructose + glucose (honey).

Find out how bees make honey.

Beekeepers take this product from hives once they can see the honeycomb cells have been capped (sealed) by the bees.

Some beekeepers then treat it through heating and filtering before it is stored in jars.

The honey harvested and consumed by humans is made by the honey bee, and not solitary or bumble bees.

Honey Presentations

Honey is a available in a number of presentations.

Raw Honey

Raw honey is simply honey that has not yet been treated by the beekeeper through heating and filtering, as described above.

Liquid Honey:

Liquid honey dripping from a wooden honey dipperLiquid honey is spreadable and especially easy to use in baking and to spoon onto pancakes.

This is the honey format most of us are familiar with: that is, the liquid ‘runny honey’ you get in jars.

Comb Honey: 

Packaged honeycomb ready for sale in a tray with a cardboard outer wrappingPackaged honeycomb ready for sale.

Did you know, even the beeswax comb can be eaten! This is honey, still in the comb.

Cut Comb: 

This is a combination of the two above! That is, liquid honey, with pieces of honeycomb remaining.

Crystallized Honey:

This is where some of the glucose component within the honey has crystallized.  You can read more detail here.

Buying Honey

You can buy honey in various presentations.  I tend to recommend purchasing from smaller, local suppliers where you can.  In some countries, contamination and the practice of mixing honey with corn syrup has meant that the general public have not always been buying the pure, natural product they thought they were getting. 

Purchasing certified organic honey is another way to ensure that what you are getting really is honey.

See my tips about buying honey, whether it be from your local beekeeper or the high street supermarket.

The Following Are Not Honey - Or Contain Little Actual Honey

Cactus Honey / Agave Nectar

Despite its name, Cactus Honey is not honey at all - this is simply another name for Agave Nectar - which is sap from the Agave plant.  The product label on this picture is clear, and describes the item as being from Prickly Pear, but note, no honey bees are involved in its creation.   Read more about Cactus Honey.

Powdered And Granulated Honey

Powdered and granulated honey tend to contain a large number of ingredients other than honey - the key is to check the label of the item you are thinking of purchasing to see what it contains, because they can quite different.  

Depending on the product, I have seen such offerings containing mostly refiners syrup (cane sugar) - and despite that, sometimes being sold at a premium price for what is mostly an inexpensive commodity food.  I recommend you always check the ingredient label before purchasing to ensure you are happy with the item.

More Articles About Honey

It is thought there are many benefits of eating honey. To find out more about honey and honey nutrition, click on some of the links below.

Did You Know?

Toxic Honey Was Used In Ancient Warfare!

Read More

honey and gloopy honey comb



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