Our Raw Honey Story
What is raw honey?
Raw honey is honey that has been spun out of the natural beeswax honey combs and contains enzymes and natural bee pollen. All the floral essences that came from the flowers remain and give our honey it’s amazing nose and taste, with a very smooth finish.
Our raw honey is not processed and ultra filtered like many commercial honeys are. Our honey is not stripped of flavors and goodness. Our honey is not heated to high temperatures to push through filters. Heat destroys enzymes and flavors.
It will have specs of pollen and natural beeswax. It may have an occasional honeybee leg (no worries). These are our “bona fides” and are our evidence of genuineness.
Raw honey will naturally crystallize, and that is another characteristic of raw honey that is unheated, unprocessed, and pure. It is nice to slather or spoon without dripping. It will keep indefinitely over time.
It’s simply the best!
Our Raw Honey Story
For years we warmed and stained our honey and put it in jars just like the old timers that we learned from. Oral Kuch, Kirk’s mentor (born in the early 1900’s), warmed his honey on an old wood stove and we started the same way before we built our own honeyhouse. The only raw honey was in the natural honeycomb with the wax.
For twenty-five years Sleeping Bear warmed and strained all the honey and put it in jars until one day Sharon, Kirk’s wife, suggested that many people would prefer honey in the natural granulated state.
Not only did raw honey taste better with more nuanced floral essences, but had more enzymes and healthful benefits.
It is in the natural uncooked, unfiltered, unadulterated granulated state and is spreadable as desired. What distinguishes our real raw honey is the flavor of the Star Thistle nectar that thrives in wilds of Northern Michigan so well. Our Real Raw honey is simply exquisite.
We pack our real raw honey in a wide mouthed 2 1/2 pound glass jar (40 oz.) with a large opening to spoon out the honey. We also have a 1 1/2 lb. plastic tub that ships very well.
The Benefits of Raw Honey
Raw honey is not filtered or heated. Real raw honey contains all the live enzymes, pollen, propolis and floral essences that the honeybees put into it. The bees determine the color, flavor, and texture of our honey by the varieties of wildflowers and herbs they forage. Star Thistle is the predominate flower they visit in northern Michigan summers and the fields turn purple in mid summer with blossoms.
For at least 2700 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, but only recently have the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of raw honey been chemically explained. Antibacterial properties of real raw honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis (honey literally sucks the water out of bacteria), hydrogen peroxide effect and high acidity.
Years ago our children contracted skin lesions from contaminated goat’s milk and we tried two different antibiotics with no improvement. We had started keeping bees and found out that honey applied topically would heal open sores, so we tried it. Within 24 hours the open sores began to heal. Raw honey is primarily a saturated mixture of two monosaccharides. This mixture has a low water activity; most of the water molecules are associated with the sugars and few remain available for microorganisms, so it is a poor environment for bacterial growth.
FDA “Approved” Types of Honey
Like all food products, the FDA has standards for what can go on the label.
Blended Honey: A homogeneous mixture of two or more honeys differing in floral source, color, flavor, density or geographic origin.
Churned Honey: See whipped honey.
Cremed Honey: See whipped honey
Crystallized Honey: Honey in which part of the natural glucose content has spontaneously crystallized from solution as the monohydrate. Also called “Granulated Honey.”
Filtered Honey: Honey processed by filtration to remove extraneous solids and pollen grains.
Honey Fondant: See whipped honey.
Organic Honey: Honey produced, processed, and packaged in accordance with State and Federal regulations on honey and organic products, and certified by a State Department of Agriculture or an independent organic farming certification organization.
Raw Honey: Honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without adding heat.
Commercially Raw Honey: Honey as obtained by minimum processing. This product is often labeled as raw honey.
Notes: 1) Storage or exposure to either ambient (environmental) or applied (deliberately added) heat influences the character of honey. 2) Enzymatic activity, antimicrobial properties, microbial quality, color and chemical composition are all influenced by heat and storage.  3) There are an infinite number of time and temperature combinations that will affect the raw state of honey. 4) The definition of “minimum” processing can be set by purchasing standards.
Spun© Honey: See whipped honey.
Strained Honey: Honey which has been passed through a mesh material to remove particulate material (pieces of wax, propolis, other defects) without removing pollen.
Whipped Honey: Honey processed, by controlled crystallization, to a smooth spreadable consistency.
Fascinating stuff, right?
The two we are concerned with are commercial raw honey and raw honey.
Truly raw honey is exactly that – it’s taken from the hive, and it’s packaged. That’s it. No filter, no strain, no heat, nothing. Just hive to bottle.
Commercially raw honey is much more common.
Commercially raw honey is taken from the hive, and then it is processed – minimally – before being sold to you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For instance, liquid honey has to go through at least minimal processing to become a liquid.
So, our most common question – is all our honey raw honey?
Almost all of our honey products (with obvious exceptions, like our spreads and creams) falls into one of the two categories.
The only honey we sell that is 100% untreated, truly raw, is labeled as such.
You can find those products in the Raw Honey category of our shop.
That said, our honey bears and other products could fall into the commercially raw category as well. To avoid confusion, we do not label them as raw.
These honey products are gently heated (to a secret temperature) so as to avoid breaking down the enzymes and other good stuff in the honey. They are also strained – not filtered – to remove larger particles within the honey.
Benefits of Raw Honey vs. Commercially Raw Honey
Often, the customer is concerned that anything about truly raw honey doesn’t have the health benefits they are looking for. In some senses, they are correct. The straining process and heating involved with producing commercially raw liquid honey does take away some of the other material – like pollen – that many people look for when they buy raw honey. But we are careful to not heat or modify the honey too much, leaving the beneficial enzymes and other healthy aspects of honey in tact. But, if you’re looking for that 100% untreated honey and everything that comes with it, you want to stick to the raw honey category of the store.