The Real Thing, With Nothing Added & Nothing Taken Away
20 years ago I made a discovery that changed my life and started my quest to help people rediscover the magic of the rawest, purest honey that comes straight from the hive
Dear Honey Lover
Looking up I could see a forest blanketing the mountainside, rising right up to the foot of some cliffs - a thousand or more metres above us. Higher still giant birds were circling the cliffs. Eagles I thought….
Didn’t think about it again until I got to properly unpacking the boot a few weeks later. Then it sat in the corner of the kitchen for a few more days.
- How could you know anything about the source of the honey if it came from so many different places?
- Was it produced close to pollution sources?
- Was it produced in a place where crops are sprayed with lethal poisons? (Yes, sure of course it will have been tested and safe to eat but with the quantities of honey the supermarkets need there is no way they will have checked all the beekeepers.)
- Did the beekeeper treat his bees well and leave them enough honey ?
- Which flowers was it from?
So we got to meet Ramon, his wife Begona and their three sons Jonathon, Mario and Alessandro. They were involved in the family's honey business and running a small holding that provided almost all their food..
Next was Antonio Simon - he truly looked the part. A short man with curly grey hair whose organic hives are in a Biosphere Reserve in the mountains north of Madrid.
They craft mainly thick dark honeys with a very low moisture content- like his thick Mountain Oak. A honey that gradually eases off the spoon, like a slow-moving lava flow.
- Monitor the beekeepers: I visit all our beekeepers regularly and spend time with them, observing their practices and helping them.
- Wilderness honey: The honey comes from wild out of the way places, away from sprayed crops, industrial pollution and major roads
- Tested the honey: We regularly test samples of the honey for contamination by pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics (as well as pollution).
- Organic: We are organically certified for many of our honeys, which means the beekeepers are monitored by the organic authorities (who make unannounced visits to the beekeepers to check they are following organic principles).
- Superior flavour: Many of these honey types wins awards, from our current range there are 12 honeys that have been selected because of the complexity of their flavours.
- Raw honey crystallises. Because raw honey hasn’t been heat treated it crystallises - ie it can become solid. This is an entirely natural process - and actually it is a sign that the honey is raw. Heat treated honey crystallises much slower - because heat delays the crystallistion. The supermarkets judge that the consumer prefers runny honey. However, many people think that honey that crystallises has had sugar added to it or that it has gone off.If you want to learn more about why honey crystallises search ‘honey crystalisation’ on google
- Raw honey generally costs more: Raw honey is more expensive than processed honey - which is a mass market product bought very cheaply from countries like China. Our raw honey comes from small scale artisan beekeepers. We pay a fair price to our beekeepers, who don’t have the economies of scale of the industrial honey producers. They take great pride, care and time in producing the honey - it is more than about making a quick buck.
- Raw honey has strong flavours. For instance, Oak honey or Arbutus, which is bitter - a bit like coffee or marmalade. This can be a shock if you have always been used to supermarket honey, which tends to be mild.
- Raw honey doesn’t the uniformity of flavour that processed honey has. Processed honey is blended in a way from many different sources to provide a uniform flavour. However, raw honey is unique to the location and the weather in that location. You will find that you may buy some raw heather honey one year and then you may find the next year the flavour is different. This is because raw honey is a bit like a fine wine. The flavour depends on the unique conditions each year. The weather has a big effect. Also the location and the soil will affect the flavour. Because it is not blended and manipulated in the way that processed honey is the flavour is unique to the location of the honey.
- If you still want to try some raw honey then we suggest that you start with some of our most popular honeys, which are in this selection.
Postscript: I founded the company with my wife Karen. I’m sad to say she became very ill and despite fighting the illness for three years passed away. She wanted me to carry on after her passing and that is what I am now doing.
Got more questions? Here's our Frequently Asked Questions
How soon will I receive my order?
If you order before 1pm Monday to Friday, your honey should be delivered within 48 hours but more often than not 24 hours.
Which honey is the best/tastiest/strongest?
Because our honeys are all single-source and mostly monofloral (primarily from a single type of plant), they all have different benefits and flavours! We all have our own personal favourites, and in the end, it mostly comes down to the individual. It's best to try a few and see which works best for you.
For some varieties, there are testers available for purchase here: https://www.therawhoneyshop.com/pages/search-results?q=tester&p=1
If you're new to the world of raw honey, and you're looking for a bit of guidance, though, we can offer a few tips:
Where does the honey come from?
Most of our honeys come from various regions of Spain, which has lots of natural, wild areas with little human interference and a perfect climate for honeybees. We also carry honey from Greece and Bulgaria, both of which have long, respected honey traditions. Additionally, we sometimes have honeys from Portugal, France, Italy, Australia, and here in the UK. We are always looking for new supplies, though, so this list may change in the future.
How do you flavour your honeys?
We don't! The bees flavour them. The flavour comes from the nectar from the flower types the bees make the honey from. If it the honey type is Wild Lavender then this means the beekeeper has put the hives amidst the Wild Lavender when it was flowering. The bees will mainly collect from what is near to the hive.
What does ‘raw’ mean?
When we say our honey is raw, we mean a few things.
First and foremost is that it has not been pasteurised or fine filtered. We want the honey in our jars to be just as natural as it is when the bees produce it in their hives. Pasteurisation is done using high temperatures (often 63 degrees C or more), and fine-filtering removes much of the pollen and other small bits naturally found in honey. These processes significantly damage the flavour and beneficial properties of the honey, and we want to make sure our products are as healthy, natural, and tasty as possible. Any honey you see without the word 'raw' on the label will have been processed in these ways and possibly others.
We also only use honey from individual beekeepers. Most of the honeys you see in the supermarkets will have been produced by many different beekeepers in many different places (EU and non-EU), then blended together in a facility to ensure a very consistent end product. All our honeys are unblended and come from individual beekeepers with their own hives and bees.
To ensure the best quality honey possible, we will only ever carry completely unpasteurised, only coarse-filtered, completely raw honey - the way honey should be.
Why are some products labeled 'organic' and others are not? What is the difference between 'organic' and 'raw'?
While all of our honeys are raw, some are also 'organic'. This means the beekeeper has had a third-party certifier inspect their hives, processes, and the land around the hives for sources of contamination. The process can take three years to go through and is quite expensive, which means not all of our beekeepers have gone through the certification. That said, all our beekeepers use natural, traditional processes without the use of harmful pesticides, and all place their hives in remote areas far from sources of pollution. They also all have periodic testing of their honeys done to be sure there are no problems.
We consider all our products to be pure and completely natural.
Do your beekeepers feed sugar to their bees?
We do not purchase or sell any honeys that have been produced by bees while they have been fed any type of sugar solution or fondant. Our beekeepers always leave enough honey and pollen in the hives for the bees to keep themselves fed through the leaner parts of the year. The hives are designed such that there is a compartment for the queen and her bees to keep their brood and store enough honey and pollen for themselves and there are separate compartments, which keep the queen (and the baby bees) out, where the worker bees will store extra honey and pollen. With years of experience in beekeeping in their regions, the beekeepers only take honey from the non-brood rearing areas of the hive, where the honey is excess to the needs of the bees.
The only circumstance under which our beekeepers would feed their bees is when the winter is particularly long and then is perhaps followed by a wet Spring. This is a situation where the bees would die if they were in the wild. This is uncommon, but if the bees might die without extra help, we'd prefer the beekeepers keep their bees alive with some supplementary feeding. The bees would not be producing any harvestable honey during these periods as they would need it all for themselves, but that being said, even if there were some extra honey produced, we would not sell it.
Why has my honey crystalised? Is something wrong with it?
No, nothing is wrong with your honey. All honey crystalises. Some types of honey (eg: acacia) take much longer than other types, but this is a completely natural process that will happen to all honeys sooner or later. Honey which has been processed (pasteurised and fine-filtered) will generally take longer than raw honey to crystalise, but even this honey will crystalise eventually.
We only supply completely raw honey, which has the good bits still in it - the pollen and sometimes larger bits of propolis, beeswax and royal jelly. So, don't worry if you notice small bits in your honey, but likewise, don't worry if you don't see them - individual grains of pollen are very, very small and may not be easy to see with the naked eye. These bits give the natural sugars in honey 'seeds' from which to start crystalising, which means our honey will often set more quickly than other less raw honey.
The amount of time it takes for a particular honey to crystalise depends on numerous factors, including the temperature at which the honey is stored, the amount of pollen and other bits in the honey, the proportion of natural glucose, the moisture content, the size of the container, etc ... All these factors together make it impossible to predict exactly when a particular honey will crystalise, but we update the state of each of our honeys every two weeks, so do check the product descriptions to see the current state of the honey you are interested in purchasing.
How can I test my honey?
Everyone wants to know their honey is pure and natural, especially these days where stories of fraud, contamination, and deception are constantly appearing. This is why you'll find lots of home testing methods demonstrated online or being passed around by word of mouth. Do not trust these! It'd be great to think there are simple, at-home methods to accurately test your honey, but the truth is none of these methods will tell you much of anything about the honey's quality, purity, production, or anything else. Burning your honey, dropping it in water or on your nail, shaking it up, looking for honeycomb patterns, etc ... They're all fake tests.
So how do you test honey? Basically, it has to be tested in a lab. There are a variety of tests than can be done, testing for the honey's general physical characteristics, the honey's pollen content, sugar content, pesticide amounts, etc ... These can cost anywhere from £50 to £2000. We work with our beekeepers to have some of these tests done periodically on different batches to be sure the quality is kept high. So far, we have never found any sign of contamination or alteration among our beekeepers. If we ever found one of our beekeepers to have engaged in deceptive practices, we would cut off our business relationship with them immediately and notify anyone affected.
We make sure to work directly with the beekeepers instead of going through lots of middle men. This includes regular visit to the hives and locations where the honey is produced. We also take part in beekeeping training to make sure we know exactly what to look for on our visits. This ensures we know exactly where the honey has been produced, how it has been produced, and who has produced it. We build long-term relationships with our beekeepers over the course of many years, establishing strong levels of trust. You can find out more about our trips to visit the beekeepers by signing up for our email list and by checking out our blog.
We will only ever sell the highest quality, pure and natural honey - always raw, just as it comes from the hives.
Does honey expire or go off?
No! Honey never expires or goes off so long as it is kept in its container with the lid on (this prevents too much moisture from getting in, which may allow the yeasts in the honey to begin fermentation). It is unique amongst foods in this ability to stay good forever. Honey from hundreds and even thousands of years of ago has been recovered from archeological sites, and it is still perfectly fine to eat.
All honeys are required to have a Best Before End (different from expiry) date, but this date is mostly to signify how long the beekeepers think it will be before the honeys will almost certainly be fully crystalised (some will crystalise far more quickly of course). The best before date also takes into account possible temperature variations and the repeated opening of the jars, which may, over time, degrade the colour and flavour of the honey, but this date is set very conservatively just to be sure. In general, though, so long as it has been stored properly, honey past this date will still be perfectly safe and delicious no matter if it's runny, fully crystalised, or somewhere in between.
How do I store and use my Honey/Royal Jelly/Pollen/Propolis?
Honey, honeycomb and dried pollen are best stored with the lid fully closed and out of direct sunlight. If you can keep it somewhere that stays a bit warm (but not too hot), then the honey will generally stay runny a bit longer as well.
For chilled products such as our fresh pollen and fresh royal jelly, you should store the products in the refrigerator if you are going to be using them right away. Otherwise, they can be stored in the freezer for future use.
There are no specific dosage amounts for any of these products, but we would remind everyone that honey is a solution of natural sugars in water, and so care should be taken when consuming large amounts of honey. For royal jelly, we suggest a pea-sized amount each day. For pollen, we recommend a teaspoon per day. Finally, for propolis tincture, we suggest a few drops each day.
As with any products you haven't tried before, start with a small amount and see how you feel before increasing the quantity.
Why don’t you carry more UK honeys?
For better or worse, we love honey here in the UK, and people consume far more honey than is produced locally! This makes the supply we can access quite small most of the time, which causes us a few added difficulties. The UK also only produces a few varieties due to the mostly mixed environment, with very few areas in which there are large expanses where single types of nectar-producing plants dominate. Because of these reasons, the UK honey supply is often too limited for our shop.
Additionally, because the UK tends to have quite a lot of conventional agriculture and other built up areas, there are very few places where we would trust the honey not to be contaminated at least at a low level by pesticides or pollution. This affects the bees and the honey.
We love to provide lots of interesting and exciting varieties of pure and natural raw honey to our customers, and for this, we need to look slightly further afield. That said, do support your local beekeepers where possible, and if you find a particularly delicious UK honey, please let us know!