Is Organic Honey Always Raw?

Is Organic Honey Always Raw?

You’re a health-conscious shopper wandering the halls of your local market. On the lookout for nutritious products to stock your pantry, you are sure to notice the deluge of buzzwords on packaging. “Natural”, “Healthy”, “Organic”, “Raw”, and more, pop out from every corner of every aisle. But what do they all mean? Is organic always healthy? Is healthy always raw? Is natural always organic? Sorting out the meaningful from the marketing can be a challenge for even the most savvy shopper.

“Is organic honey the same as raw honey?” is a common question that our Sleeping Bear customer service team often hears. The lack of clear definition of both terms makes it difficult for the consumer to differentiate between them. Today we’re going to help clear the air with a look at the real definition of organic honey and raw honey.

Raw Honey

Raw honey is just that – raw. At the most basic level, “Raw Honey” is honey that has not been heated past the point of pasteurization. Bees keep their hives around the 95 degree mark while making honey, and raw honey is not heated beyond this point during the extraction or bottling process. By not heating the honey, it retains all the natural enzymes and properties it has in the hive.

Organic Honey

Organic honey is a different ball of (bees)wax. Honey is organic when the flowers that the bees use to produce the honey have not been treated with chemicals. The term organic honey has nothing to do with the production process of the honey. A hive can produce organic honey, but the extracted honey can be heated, filtered, and processed – and therefore not raw. Or, you can harvest the raw honey.

Raw vs Organic Honey

Therefore, not all organic honey is raw honey, and not all raw honey is necessarily organic. Organic honey is a tricky subject. Bees can travel miles to pollinate flowers. In order to be truly organic, one must know that every flower the bees could have possibly visited was untreated. At Sleeping Bear Farms, we do not label our raw honey as organic. The reality is that we cannot be 100% sure that every flower a bee visits has not been treated in some way, and therefore we don’t want to mislead anyone. So while we don’t treat the flowers, we can’t be sure that someone in the area hasn’t and wouldn’t want to mislead anyone with our advertising. You can, however, be completely sure that our honey is truly raw.

9 thoughts on “Is Organic Honey Always Raw?

  1. Deborah says:

    I don’t understand, can’t the bees fly to flowers that may not be organic? How can you restrict bees to a certain area?

  2. Kumail says:

    Hi, since bee’s don’t travel too far from their hive, would it be in any way feasible to manually check the radius?

  3. SBF says:

    In theory yes, but in practice, the bees do not have a minimum/maximum set distance – we can say they “generally” go within a certain radius but there’s nothing stopping them from going further. So between checking every individual plant within a very large area and the fact we wouldn’t necessarily have clearance to go on all the property within that area, it wouldn’t be very feasible in practice.

  4. Verna says:

    Thank you for clearing the difference between organic and raw honey. I have a better understanding of how to shop.

  5. SBF says:

    Hi! We can’t speak for those who label their product as organic, but it’s something that we don’t do since, at least in our experience, there’s no way to definitively say “this is organic”. Since we strive to be honest with what we’re selling, we don’t pursue the organic designation. Other sellers may feel comfortable saying their product is organic, and perhaps it is 🙂

  6. Roger W. says:

    As a backyard beekeeper, I always chuckle when I see “organic” honey. Unless we live in a dome, and control all the plants inside that dome, we simply don’t know where the bees collect their pollen and nectar. We call our honey “Thousand Flower Honey”. We got into bees as a way to pollenate our garden, and they have helped tremendously. My wife likes to remind me that all the bees one sees out working are female, while the guys just lay around being taken care of and their only job is to mate with a new queen! We keep 2 – 3 hives, and love our “girls”.

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