• Is Leigh’s Bees honey raw?
There is currently no legal definition of the term ‘raw honey’. Presently, anything that is hand pressed from the comb to honey heated within one degree of official pasteurisation can be deemed ‘raw’. We advocate either no warming or very gentle warming, if necessary, to allow bottling.
• Why is the production method so important?
Bees create honey as an active substance containing beneficial enzymes. These enzymes are not affected by gentle warming to enable bottling. At Leigh’s Bees we bottle most of our honey at the time of extraction. We simply pass it through a coarse sieve to remove pieces of wax and natural detritus. Good quality, unprocessed honey stored in bulk is likely to set over time. It needs gentle warming to facilitate bottling.
• Is the honey pasteurised?
We do not heat-treat any of our honey, other than very gentle warming if necessary when bottling. Warming temperatures are carefully monitored so as not to destroy the natural enzymes in the honey.
• How is the honey extracted from the comb?
Once the frames of honey arrive at the Honey House they are maintained at hive temperature for a day until we spin the honey out. We do that using a rapidly rotating centrifuge which throws the honey out of the combs.
• What is the shelf life of the honey?
Still edible honey has been found in Egyptian tombs. We only put a best before date on the label because the Food Standards Agency demands it.
• Do you feed the bees?
They usually go in to winter with enough stored honey to thrive. We prefer them to overwinter on their own honey, but when weather conditions are such that there is no choice, they are fed sugar either as a liquid in the autumn, or fondant in the winter/spring.
• My clear honey has turned thick, or has crystallised. What can I do?
This is a completely natural process and the honey remains perfectly edible and delicious. If, however, you prefer clear honey, simply warm the honey very gently by standing the jar in a saucepan of hot water until it has cleared. This is not an instantaneous process. Beware over heating which can spoil the scent and flavour of the honey and damage the enzymes within.
• Why does honey crystallise?
Pure, raw and unheated honey, like ours, has a natural tendency to crystallise over time, with no adverse affect on the honey. Some honeys will crystallise uniformly, whilst others will form two layers, with liquid honey sitting on top of a crystallised layer. The two principal natural sugars in honey are fructose and glucose. The balance of these two natural sugars causes the crystallization, and the relative percentage of each determines whether it crystallizes rapidly or slowly – the more rapidly the process occurs, the finer the texture will be, and the paler the colour. What crystallizes is the glucose, due to its lower solubility. Fructose is more soluble in water than glucose and will remain fluid.
• Where can I buy Leigh’s Bees honey?
Visit our stockists page for details of our current retailers. If you have a great local deli, farmshop or other retailer where you would like to be able to buy our honey, do please drop us an email. If you are happy asking them if they would like to stock Leigh’s Bees honey, that would be even better.
• Why is your honey so much more expensive than supermarket honey?
Our prices reflect the care, effort and time invested to bring you a superior, natural product, just as the bees made it. We keep each apiary’s nectar flows separate, rather than blending.
The majority of supermarket honeys are: “produce of EU and non-EU countries” – basically a blend of honeys from around the world, mixed to keep uniformity of taste and texture. Supermarket honeys tend to be pasteurised and have little or no enzyme activity within. In recent years there has also been an influx of ‘fake honey’, information about which can be readily found on the internet.