General questions about Bees and Honey

Honey naturally transforms into a solid state known as crystallized honey. Honey crystallizes because it is not stable in liquid form. The glucose molecules in the honey shed water and the strength of the new molecules' polarity causes them to align into crystals. Tiny particles of water remain trapped between the crystals.

The speed of transformation depends on the flower blossom from which the nectar is taken, how much pollen, wax particles, propolis, and air bubbles are in the honey, and how the honey is handled. Generally the crystallization can take from two weeks to several months.

Crystallization doesn't change the characteristics of honey except for the degree of solidity. The taste and health benefits are the same, it is just difficult to get it out of the container and spread it.

Many people prefer honey that has been crystallized under controlled processes. By inducing and controlling the process a softer, spreadable form of honey is created called creamed honey. It is still 100% honey; the only thing manipulated is the rate of transformation and size of the crystals.

To slow down crystallization, keep honey at room temperature. To re-liquefy honey the best way is to gently heat it in a double boiler. Be careful not to heat it more than 40C. The honey degrades, the taste is altered and the antimicrobial properties and health benefits are significantly reduced. A microwave works as well but it is easier to burn the honey. As you heat the honey, stirring speeds up the process and reduces the chance of burning.

Honey starts off as nectar in flowers. Plants create glorious flowers and sweet nectar to entice bees to the plant. The bees drink the nectar and collect pollen from the flower. As bees move from flower to flower, some of the collected pollen is left at the next plant. The transported pollen enters the new flower and the plant is able to reproduce. Bees work as the plants' courier and their payment is the energy packed nectar, and nutrient and protein rich pollen.

Flower parts

Back in the beehive the bees produce and add several enzymes to the nectar and adjust the water content. This allows the nectar to ripen into honey. Millions of years have shaped flowers, bees and honey into the most evolved and beneficial source of energy possible. As honey, the food energy is in a stable form. It can keep indefinitely without spoilage. In fact, honey is a powerful antimicrobial agent!