I just heard the tail end of a snippet on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme the the effect that a great deal of supermarket honey has been ultra filtered to remove all the pollen and thus flavour and nutrition.  The speaker’s opinion was that the only reason for doing this can be to conceal the suspect origin of the honey.  I shall try to ‘listen again’.

Nearly all beekeepers strain their honey to avoid bits of wax and of bee getting into the jar but, legally, any honey that has a significant proportion of the pollen removed should be labelled as ‘filtered honey’ which I have never seen in the shops.

I find that there is a growing market for honey in the comb and hope to produce more of this as it avoids messy processing and is much more natural, retaining all the flavour and nutrition.

I’ve now found the programme via the computer. The piece is only 3 minutes long and is 12 minutes into the programme. The American scientist, Andrew Schneider sounds just like Prof Stephen Hawking!


About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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  1. Emily Heath says:

    The Radio 4 programme may have been influenced by the recent US scare about ultra filtered honey. The US Commerce Department put a $1.20 tariff on every pound of Chinese honey being imported, but it seems some Chinese beekeepers may have been getting round this by ultra-filtering then rerouting their honey via India or other countries for packaging before sending it to the US. I think it’s not such a problem here.

    My honey refused to come out of the comb even using a electric extractor last summer (maybe the bees found some heather?) so we cut it up into chunks and put those in jars. People seemed to like it but I did get asked a lot whether the comb was edible and how to eat it.

  2. Chris says:

    For small scale beekeepers, say up to 6 hives, it’s not worth getting an extractor: a waste of space for 364 days a year! Try cutting the combs from the frames, leaving just a ‘footprint’ around the edge for the guidance of the bees when refilling. Alternatively, use an ice cream scoop to scrape combs down to the midrib.
    Put the honey/wax mixture into a suitable container add a thermometer, then put into your warming cabinet to raise the temperature GENTLY to about blood heat; fever pitch at most. Then you can strain and bottle it.

    • Emily Heath says:

      We wouldn’t have bought an extractor, but my hive partner was offered a free electric one by a retiring beekeeper colleague of hers. Luckily her dad has storage space for it as we both live in little flats.

      That’s a handy tip about leaving a footprint for the bees, we didn’t think of that. We don’t have a warming cabinet, but luckily once stirred last summer’s honey flowed very easily and has remained a perfectly clear liquid since. We think they might have found some heather.

  3. A fruit press is smaller and more versatile than an extractor. Make filter bags from muslin or nylon (your old tights maybe!) put the broken comb, maybe warmed to blood heat, in and turn the screw. The honey comes out ready strained and could be bottled straight away.

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