Have you ever wondered if you can eat an entire honeycomb? It can look intimidating with its wax structure. But it turns out, not only are honeycombs visually appealing pieces of art, they are an edible creation that can be enjoyed in many ways.
Can you eat honeycomb?
Absolutely! Although honeycomb is made from beeswax, it is entirely edible for humans to enjoy. Sometimes, people are unsure if it’s safe to eat honeycomb because it is made of wax. For many, the wax is the best part! It adds a chewy texture to makes it an enjoyable treat.
People have enjoyed the benefits of honeycomb for thousands of years. The actual wax has no flavor however, it stores the freshest honey which gives it an amazing taste!
There are several ways to extract honey, however many people prefer to enjoy honey while it’s still in the comb. When you eat the honeycomb, you’ll experience a chewy texture as honey pops out of the cells as you chew.
Is raw honeycomb safe for everyone?
It should be noted that raw honeycomb is not safe for everyone. Infants under the age of 1 should not eat honey. Also, those with weakened immune systems should consult their doctors before eating any raw product.
What is honeycomb?
Honeycomb is a natural product created by worker bees in a colony. Honeycomb is made from beeswax which is produced from glands on the worker bees’ abdomen. Honeycomb is infamous for its hexagon-shaped cells that bees use to store honey. Combs become a natural part of a colony’s home. During the spring, worker bees will fill the honeycomb cells with pollen and honey. Then the worker bees cover the cells with wax to cap and seal the honey for storage. Bees will uncap these cells during the winter to feed and survive.
Is honeycomb healthy for you?
It depends on who you ask. Although honeycomb lacks nutritional value, it is a delicious treat with no known side effects. In fact, the combs can be chewed like gum and provides fatty acids and alcohols that help reduce cholesterol levels. If you’re eating honeycomb, you are also gaining the health benefits of liquid honey.
Honey is a natural antibiotic. Studies have shown that honey contributes to higher metabolisms and helps lower cholesterol. Other studies suggest the antioxidants In honey also reduces inflammation and lowers the chances of diabetes, dementia, heart disease and even some forms of cancer. Some people claim that eating local honey helps with seasonal allergies.
Honeycomb serves as a natural cough suppressant, particularly for those who are prone to respiratory infections. One study suggests that honey is just as effective as cough syrup to reduce the discomfort of coughing.
If you choose to eat fresh honeycomb, be aware that you are consuming more than just honey and wax. Honeycomb will hold traces of pollen, royal jelly, and other natural materials that were collected or created by the worker bees. Honeycomb is a direct source of the bees’ environment so if you plan to buy any, pay attention to where the comb was packaged. I encourage you to look for honey that is locally produced. Remember that combs vary in taste, just like honey, depending on the environment and which flowers the bees use to collect nectar.
Are there any dangers in eating honeycomb?
As with other things in life, moderation is key. Honeycomb is typically safe to consume. However, eating large amounts of honeycomb may cause stomach pain and even stomach obstruction. The best way to minimize the likelihood of stomach obstruction is to avoid eating honeycombs in excessive amounts in one sitting.
Also, those with bee or pollen allergies should be cautious when eating honeycomb. It could cause an allergic reaction. Those with allergies should always consult their doctors before eating raw honey or honeycombs.
Where can you purchase honeycomb?
As a beekeeper, you will find honeycomb in your hive. When your bees have filled the frames with honey, you can remove the structure and cut out the combs in large, square pieces. For more information on how to create your own honeycomb pieces, see our article about how to extract honey without an extractor.
Honeycomb can be harder to find, but there are a few ways you can purchase it. Check your local farmer’s markets for any honey booths. Sometimes, people will sell jars of honey with a few pieces of comb in it.
Another option is to reach out to local beekeeping clubs to see if anyone is willing to sell honeycombs for a fair price. Be prepared to spend more than you would for just pure honey. Beekeepers who have hives that produce more honeycomb will produce less liquid honey and that results in a higher price for the comb.
Finally, if you’ve run out of resources, you can also purchase fresh honeycomb online. Make sure to do your due diligence before purchasing raw honeycomb on the internet. Before purchasing just any honeycomb, I’d recommend the following:
- Look for labels that advertise 100% raw honeycomb. You want to purchase combs that are cut fresh from the beehive. Raw honey is different from commercial honey because it is not pasteurized or filtered. You also want to be sure there are no added sugar, syrups, artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Purchase honeycomb sourced in the USA. It’s best to purchase combs that are somewhat local- at least within your own country. Honeycomb made in the USA will ensure the honey standard meets the health standards that your body is used to. Be sure to research where the honey comes from. Many times, you’ll find that honeycomb is imported from other countries. Be sure that the raw honeycomb is not only sold but also sourced in the USA.
Here are honeycombs that I’ve bought when I’m craving a crunchy treat:
How do you eat honeycomb?
There are many ways to enjoy honeycomb. Once you get a hold of a honeycomb piece, all you have to do is take a bite! That’s right, you can eat the wax and the honey stored inside of the cells. It’s all edible and healthy for human consumption.
Other ways to enjoy honeycomb are:
- Put it in your smoothie. Honeycomb can be used as a sweetener in smoothies and also offers a great aroma.
- On a cheeseboard. The simplest way to serve honey with cheese is to drizzle it over the wedges right before serving. You can leave the honeycomb on the board for aesthetics. Honey pairs well with almost any type of cheese but it’s especially delicious with cheeses that are creamy, aged, or acidic.
- In a salad. Cut honeycomb into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle it on your salad for an extra crunch. You can also use the honey as an ingredient for a vinaigrette or other salad dressing recipes.
- On warm bread. When in doubt, grab yourself a warm baguette or any other bread and drizzle the honey on top of it. Even better, grab some butter to give it a nice, creamy texture.
- Drizzle over ice cream. Do you even need an excuse to drizzle honey over your ice cream? Honey goes perfect with any kind of dessert but it’s especially good with some cold, vanilla ice cream.
How do you store honeycomb?
Because of its antibiotic properties, honeycomb does not expire. In fact, jars of honey found in the ancient Egyptian tombs are still edible today. Unless it’s improperly stored (i.e. it’s exposed to moisture), honey and honeycomb will last forever.
Here are some tips on how to properly store honeycomb:
- Store it in a tightly sealed container or wrap to prevent moisture on the honey and comb.
- Honeycomb should be stored at room temperature.
- Do not place honeycomb in the refrigerator or it will become sticky and fragile.
Why does raw honey crystallize?
Because honey is made from a mixture of water and natural sugars-glucose and fructose- sometimes the water can separate and the sugars will begin to take a crystal form. Once honey starts to crystallize, it keeps creating new crystals until all of the sugars for in that form.
Raw honey will crystallize inevitably, but how you store it will affect how quickly that happens. Honey will crystallize faster when exposed to lower temperatures, specifically under 50°F. That’s why it is important to store honey and combs at room temperature.
Also, look at the container you are using to store honey. Plastic containers are more porous and encourage moisture to collect. This will result in faster crystallization. When storing honey, use glass jars instead.
What do you do if the honey crystallizes?
Luckily, you can still eat honey after it’s been crystallized. Some people even prefer to eat honey in its crystal form, also known as creamed honey. Creamed honey is simply crystallized honey and is a smooth texture that can spread on toast.
If you find that your honey has crystallized, you can simply return it back to its liquid state. Heating honey will remove the crystals. However, overheating the honey can change its quality so be sure to melt it slowly.
It can typically take about an hour to de-crystallize honey with the following method. Don’t try to microwave the honey or you risk lowering its quality. Microwaves will heat the honey unevenly and it’s hard to control the temperature.
Be sure not to use boiling water when liquefying raw honey. If it is overheated, you will lose the nutrients and benefits that raw honey provides. Pollen, antioxidants, and enzymes found in raw honey are all destroyed once the temperature reaches above 110°F. At 160°F, the sugars in the honey begin to caramelize and then it can never return to the raw honey state. Monitor the water temperature consistently when de-crystallizing raw honey.
Here are the steps to de-crystallize honey:
- Heat a pot of water until it reaches about 100°F.
- Place the jar of honey in a large bowl and fill the bowl with the warm water. Make sure the water line is above the honey so all of it can melt. However, be extremely careful not to get water directly in your honey.
- Leave the jar in the hot water until it returns to liquid form. Sometimes, you will need to stir the honey. Watch the temperature of the water and add more hot water if necessary. The water should never be above 110°F.
Be careful not to liquefy honey too many times. Only liquefy the amount of honey you need for that time. If honey is repeatedly crystallized and liquefied, the flavor and aroma begin to fade.
Can you freeze honeycomb?
Although you can’t put honeycomb in the refrigerator, you can freeze it. Plan to freeze combs if you won’t be using it for a few months (or years). Before putting it in the freezer, wrap the honeycomb to protect it from moisture. If you want to eat the comb, be sure to let it thaw before taking a bite.
Do NOT put your honeycomb in a microwave.
Yes, you can eat honeycomb! Honeycombs are a safe and edible treat that pairs well with so many things. From bread, salads, to cheeses and desserts, honeycomb is the perfect ingredient to give any dish a chewy, sweet texture.
Honeycomb is not only delicious but also healthy as it serves as a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. There are multiple studies that suggest that honey protects the body from various illnesses and diseases.
When you’re searching for raw honeycomb, start with your local farmer’s markets or talk to your local beekeeping club. Raw combs will cost more than pure honey, but it’s definitely worth the investment. If you can’t find combs locally, you can order it online but be sure to use caution and look for raw, unfiltered products.
Honey and combs never expire and can be easily stored in room temperature or in the freezer. Finally, be careful not to expose the combs to moisture.
I don’t know about you but I’m about to rummage through my kitchen for leftover combs to eat.
Happy honeycomb eating!