What is honey?
Honey is the substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants are gathered, modified and stored by honey bees in their honeycomb. Honey is highly stable against microbial growth because of its low moisture content, low pH, and antimicrobial constituents. Unheated (raw) honey is therefore a safe fresh product as long as these conditions are maintained.
Why are there white flakes on top of my honey?
Any white flakes you may find floating on top of your honey when you open the jar are likely to be beeswax. Unfiltered honey contained particles from the beehive including bits of wax and pollen. Since wax is lighter than the honey it will float to the top. Some people (more commonly in Europe) prefer their honey still inside the honeycomb, and chew the wax like gum. I don't currently harvest any honey that way. I give back all the wax comb to the bees after spinning the honey out. This saves the bees a lot of work and resources.
Does it matter how I store my honey?
Honey stored in properly sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! I feel that glass jars offer the best protection, as plastic is somewhat porous and glass is not. However, honey is susceptible to physical and chemical changes during storage; it tends to darken and lose some aroma and flavor. The recommended storage temperature for unprocessed honey is below 50°F (10°C). The ideal temperature for both unprocessed and processed honey is below 32°F (0°C). Cooler temperatures best preserve the aroma, flavor and color of unprocessed honey. Cool temperatures [below 50°F (10°C)] are ideal for preventing crystallization. Moderate temperatures [50-70°F (10-21°C)] generally encourage crystallization. Warm temperatures [70-81°F (21-27°C)] discourage crystallization but degrade the honey.
Is all honey the same?
Honey is characterized by color, taste, aroma, moisture content and degree of processing, for starters. In many respects, each batch of honey is as different as the flowers the bees visit.
Is Crystalized honey spoiled?
Honey is highly stable against microbial growth because of its low water activity, low moisture content, low pH, and antimicrobial constituents. Unheated, unfiltered honey is more likely to crystalize than processed honey. Storage of honey in air-tight, moisture-resistant containers at temperatures below 50°F (10°C) are ideal to prevent crystalization.
Honey crystallizes because it is a supersaturated solution. This supersaturated state occurs because there is so much sugar in honey (more than 80%) relative to the water content (usually less than 20%). Glucose normally tends to precipitate out of solution and the solution changes to the more stable, saturated crystaline state. Crystallization can become a problem when the crystaline honey separates leaving a pool of liquid honey with a higher moisture content. Liquid honey with a high moisture content is more susceptible to fermentation. Fermentation of honey produces mead, one of the world's oldest fermented beverages.
It is also possible to induce and control crystallization to produce creamed honey. This process yields very fine crystals and a smooth product with a peanut butter-like texture.
In any case, there is nothing wrong with crystalized honey. In fact, all of my honey will crystalize within a year, and may crystalize much sooner if its temperature is allowed to fluctuate, up and down. Crystalized honey is dripless!
How can I make crystalized honey liquid again?
Crystallization may be reversed by heating. Honey can be raised to temperatures up to 110°F (43.4°C) for periods of hours or days; however, heat damage is cumulative so repeatedly overheating it should be avoided. Bear in mind that the while the bees work to keep their brood between 85-97 degrees Fahrenheit during their brood rearing season, temperatures in other parts of the hive where they store extra honey can easily get hotter than 110°F during a sunny summer day.
Generally speaking, the higher the temperature to which the honey is heated, the faster the crystals will liquify. The balance between temperature and time is complex, so this is a personal choice the user must make. You can liquify small quantities of crystalized honey at 85-95°F. I would avoid letting the honey get any hotter than about 110 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid "cooking" it. You can liquify a large jar by keeping the honey at that higher temperature long enough to eventually get it back into liquid state but you're better off liquifying small quantities as you need it. That raises the question that you should answer for yourself. Why do you need to liquify it?
What is "creamed honey"?
Creamed honey is special honey product. It has a mild flavor, spreads like butter at ordinary room temperature, and unlike liquid honey, it doesn't drip. Creamed honey is a specially crystallized honey. Well-made creamed honey possesses a creamy texture because the crystallization process has been precisely controlled. Most crystallized honey is produced through a natural or uncontrolled process that usually results in larger, coarse crystals. Professor Elton J. Dyce, while at Cornell University, learned to control the crystallization process and to produce an extremely fine-grained creamed honey.
Will the bees be ok if we take their honey?
What makes honey bees special is their ability to produce and store large quantities of honey so that a substantial colony of workers and their queen can survive through winter. These workers use that honey to generate enough heat to keep the queen at about 95°F no matter how cold it gets outside the hive.
Good beekeeping practices allow beekeepers to manage a hive to produce far more honey than the colony needs to get through the winter and to know how much they can take away while making sure that the bees have enough to do just that. It is in the beekeepers' interest to maintain strong colonies that survive the winter, if for no other reason than that it is costly to replace them in the spring.
How much, exactly, IS a pound of honey?
There's an age-old expression,
A pint's a pound the world around!
This refers to the standard definition whereby 16 fluid ounces is equal to 16 ounces (avoirdupoids) by weight, thus, 1 pound of water fills a 1 pint container, both are equal to 16 ounces. Because honey is not a free-flowing liquid -- far more dense than water -- a pound of honey, by weight, fills only a 10.67 fluid ounce container. To avoid confusion just remember a pound of honey refers to its weight and not it's volume.
Is honey scientifically proven to treat a sore throat?
Drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. But honey may be an effective cough suppressant, too.
In one study, children age 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.
In fact, in the study, honey appeared to be as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan, in typical over-the-counter doses. ...."
This story from the MayoClinic.com.
Is honey scientifically proven to treat other infections?
There is a growing body of research in this area. Here's one link.
What about eating honey to help with allergies?
Many people with seasonal allergies have reported to me real and measurable improvement in their, and their family's symptoms after adding local honey to their diet. Here's the best article I've seen on this topic, yet. Every year I meet more new people who testify to me about the benefits they have, personally, experienced.
What about propolis?
"Propolis, sometimes called bee glue, is a thick, sticky resin that bees collect from tree buds and use to cement holes in the hive and defend it against invading parasites and diseases. "Continue here....
Where can I visit Carl's bees?
You can visit my bees at two locations in Nassau County which are open to the public.
The first is Tanglewood Preserve. I established and maintain the apiary on the grounds, there, in Lakeview/Rockville Centre, NY. The preserve is open, free, to the public 365 days a year where you can view the outdoor hives and watch the bees coming and going on days when the temperature is high enough (usually above 45 degrees). There is also an observation hive inside the exhibit hall run by CSTL in Tanglewood Preserve where you can see bees through a plexiglass window, all year around. Entrance to the CSTL Exhibit Hall requires payment of an admission charge. Please visit their website for details.
In the second location open to the public you can visit a wall of bees at the observation hive in the Long Island Children's Museum, on Museum Row in Garden City, NY. Please see the LICM website for fees, hours and other details.
What is TanglewoodHoney.com?
Because I got started keeping bees at Tanglewood Preserve I chose the name TanglewoodHoney.com for my website. Tanglewood Preserve is owned by Nassau County and maintained by the Center for Science Teaching and Learning (CSTL). I maintain the observation hive inside the CSTL exhibit hall and an apiary on the grounds. This website is simply a niche in Cyberspace which is solely controlled by my company, FlatoGraphics LLC to share information about bees, honey and beekeeping. TanglewoodHoney.com is a trademark owned by FlatoGraphics LLC. Other than this hyperlink to the CSTL website, this website is not connected with CSTL, Tanglewood Preserve or Nassau County.
TanglewoodHoney.com is not a business and offers nothing for sale. The sole purpose of this website is to educate and inform.
Here is a link to a series of videos hosted by Sciencefriday.com, that I created with Professor Tom Seeley at his bee yard in Cornell. There's a lot of great information in them.
Here's a link to the ScienceFriday.com website. You can play the audio from the Science Friday broadcast featuring Prof. Seeley's conversation with Ira about his book, Honeybee Democracy, by clicking the link in the upper left corner of the page.