Posted on August 29, 2018
Editor’s Note: As a leading honey retailer in Singapore, we felt it’s our responsibility to educate the public that there is no such terminology as ‘wild honey’ within the industry. It has been touted as better value by several independent companies. Hence, we felt the need for an educational piece such as this.
For some time now, some people has perceived honey collected by wild bees in the forest to be of better value compared to domesticated bee honey. The supposed fact is human intervention in beekeeping affects honey quality. When the truth is, our intervention helps maintain sustainability. Through regulated domesticated honey farming, the hives can flourish and grow.
At the same time, proper human intervention is necessary to test the honey as some types like the Himalayan honey may contain hallucinogenic properties which can be fatal. Because of this false messaging, we decided to write this article to help you understand the different types of honey you’re consuming and set the records straight.
The Different Types of Honey Bees
To begin, let’s take a closer look at domesticated bees (bees kept by beekeepers) and on the opposite spectrum, wild bees.
The fact is, both these bees forage from the same floral sources. For example, if both sets of bees were found near the Manuka plant from New Zealand, they would both be collecting nectar from the same flower which becomes Manuka Honey once harvested.
The main difference then is the environment the bees return to. As domesticated bees live in domesticated environment, the beekeeper is there to ensure a quality batch of honey every time.
Wild bees on the other hand are nomadic in nature, travelling from one place to another, with a high possibility of travelling even before the honey ripens.
Given the beekeeper is the key difference here, we have to understand the beekeeper’s role and how it influences the value of any honey product.
How The Beekeeper Ensures A Quality Batch of Honey
As the person who collects the raw honey product from the beehives, their job is to monitor the hive and its activities. This includes checking on the health of the bees and inspecting the bee colony for signs of diseases.
This process is necessary to ensure the final honey products are of a quality grade and free of any contamination. Making them safe for human consumption.
After all, without active monitoring of the bees, the risk of parasites inside the beehive increases. In some cases, the hive could be housing an entire colony of sick bees which affects the honey. Not surprising since bees use their tube-like tongues to collect nectar, store it in their bodies, and finally bring it back to their hive.
Having healthy bees is therefore important in protecting the quality of the honey, and once it is ready for harvesting, the beekeeper then extracts the wax coverings from the combs and strains away any impurities before packaging them.
What You Get From “Wild Honey”
This brings us back to our question of whether human intervention affects the quality of honey.
As bees in the wild are left alone with no human intervention, it poses several health concerns as there is no way to determine the quality of the honey. Worse, there is no assurance it is free from any contamination.
And as the wild bee’s honey usually has a higher water content, it leads to fermentation meaning the honey will never ripe in a normal condition.
Here’s another concern, due to the migratory nature of wild bees, as they move to find new floral source, some would abscond and desert the hive.
Should a honey hunter collect from this hive for its honey, they wouldn’t know how long it has been abandoned. During that time, insects and other parasites could have migrated there and multiplied. In addition, the comb is biodegradable and would rot over time, further making it unsafe for human consumption.
Yet for their own safety, many of these honey hunters would take the entire hive and harvest them as they were. Unfortunately, should there be parasites instead, it results in a contaminated jar of honey. With consumers none the wiser.