Raw Honey: What’s the difference?

Organic Honey, Raw Honey

Organic Honey starts by having the production area inspected. Bee hives that start first in the year to collect nectar are located in Florida and California. The quest to produce organic honey is never an option. As the weather warms the hives are moved as far north as Canada then back to the South for the winter. This is very similar to the beekeepers 4000 years ago in Egypt. The bee hives were placed on barges that would start up the Nile and as the season changed the barges floated downstream, 30 miles at a time, at night so the bees were always in a honey flow area. Honey produced 4000 years ago would not have qualified as organic honey because of the open sources of human sludge waste.

Today the beehives are coming in contact with many environments during the course of the year. Most of these environments are out of the control of the beekeeper. To qualify for “certified organic honey” the beehive, the bee range (12 mile radius on the hive, including the beekeeper’s and neighbor’s use of fertilizer, pest control and chemicals), ambient conditions (waste disposals, landfills and toxins), storage and packing facilities, harvesting methods and equipment are inspected for two years (some states 3 years) with accompanying water and soil testing before you can receive certification to sell organic honey. The certification inspection fees for so many inspections start at $2000.00 a year.

For the average commercial bee hive, there is no one or any organization that is qualified to certify organic honey. The reason is that the bee keeper has no control over where the bees fly. Therefore, the honey bee could drift into a field or orchard that has been sprayed with pesticides and bring back nectar that would contaminate the whole hive and this of course would disqualify this hive to be certified as organic honey for 2 years. There are a few places on remote islands and isolated apiaries located in the far North (these extreme northern areas usually do not “overwinter” bees, therefore their “new” bees in the Spring would come from a bee farm in the South that is outside the inspected area), where organic honey could be certified because of the lack of agriculture in the area, but we know of no “certified organic honey” for sale that meets the criteria of a certified organic honey in the United States.

There is no one or any organization that is currently qualified to certify “raw honey”. This nonexistent guideline is not because of the same reasons as organic honey qualifications but rather no agency has been authorized to regulate raw honey. However, there is a general consensus that honey is processed and bottled at a temperature that does not raise above maximum ambient hive temperature of 118 degrees can still be labeled as raw honey. At 125 degrees the live enzymes in honey start to be damaged. At 140 degrees honey can be labeled as pasteurized wherein all live enzymes and many nutrients are damaged or destroyed.
Honey still in the honey comb is raw honey. Comb honey that is suspended in liquid honey in a jar (the liquid honey is usually pasteurized, the comb in the liquid is still raw) is both.

The presence of pollen and wax particles isn’t the “acid test” for raw honey but these particulates will not damage the honey in any way. The cost to produce liquid raw honey can be as high as 50% more than commercial honey because the honey does not flow as readily at lower temperatures. This prevents rapid bottling, ultimate filtration and a need for timely consumption, as unpasteurized honey can ferment. We therefore conclude that there is not “raw organic honey” produced in the US. We do produce Gourmet Raw honey from bee hives that are not collecting nectar in agricultural areas closer than 12 miles.

organic honey,raw honey

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