For people who like eating honey, consuming it in the comb is a special experience. And, honeycomb is the traditional way to enjoy honey. But, honey in the comb costs more so none should ever go to waste. Learning how to store honeycomb and keep it fresh for a future day is a great money-saving idea.
What is honeycomb and where does it come from? Honey bees build hexagonal cells of beeswax to form the structure of their home. In most cases, a piece of raw honeycomb is a collection of beeswax cells filled with honey. Bees use sheets of honeycomb for food storage and a place to raise young.
Worker bees gather plant nectar from millions of flowers and transform it into honey. Once the honey is ripe, it is stored in thousands of little beeswax cells that make up the comb. They also collect pollen – which is their protein source and store it in the wax cells.
Safe inside sealed wax cells, the honey harvest is protected from dirt and moisture. Thankfully, bees do such a good job of making honey that they have enough to share.
Honey that is harvested in the comb for human consumption is often called “comb honey” or “sections of comb”. This is honey in its most pure form. Years ago, this was the only way to buy fresh honey.
Harvesting Honeycomb From the Hive
Often when honey is harvested from a beehive a honey extractor is used to separate the wax comb from the liquid.
For each frame, the wax cappings on top of the cells are cut off with a knife. Then, an extractor or honey spinner – spins liquid honey out of the comb. Now, the frames of empty comb can be reused by the bees next year.
This represents a big economic advantage for the beekeeper and the colony. Less work is required next season because all of that wax does not have to be rebuilt. But, this means that little honey in the comb is available for sale – as most of it is retained for reuse.
There is a demand for comb, raw beeswax honeycomb is edible. Luckily, there are some beekeepers who go to the trouble of producing honey in the comb.
Instead of removing the liquid from the wax, the honeycomb is cut into sections. Sometimes this is presented as chunk honey.
Pieces of honeycomb are placed in a jar surrounded by liquid honey. Another method is that the pieces may also be sold alone in a special flat container.
Now, the customers can enjoy the various ways of eating honeycomb in their favorite recipes just as it came straight from the hive.
Honeycomb Honey is More Expensive
Blocks of honeycomb are often available for purchase from local beekeepers or online. Expect the price for honey with comb to be more per ounce than liquid honey.
Therefore, any apiary that produces more comb will produce less liquid honey. For the consumer, it does cost more-but the experience is worth it.
Once you have enjoyed a sweet honeycomb snack, it’s time to decide how to store the raw honeycomb that is left over. We sure do not want to waste all that effort by the bees – or your money either!
Short Term Honeycomb Storage
If you are planning to eat your honeycomb within a reasonable amount of time ( a few weeks) – storage is an easy task.
Raw honeycomb is nothing more than beeswax and honey. So, the same storage rules apply – it can be stored like any raw honey.
Place the honeycomb in an airtight container and keep it at room temperature. On the kitchen counter is a perfect storage place.
The main goal is protecting your honeycomb from water. Moisture is absorbed by honey and can result in spoilage.
Yes, honey can even absorb water from moist air -resulting in honey with a high water content – so seal it up.
Can I Store Honeycomb in the Fridge?
There is no need to put opened honeycomb in the refrigerator. In fact, it may increase the rate of crystallization resulting in a gritty product.
Crystallized honey is not spoiled and is safe to eat. However, some people do not prefer the texture.
If you wish to store your honeycomb in the refrigerator, it will not ruin it. However, to enjoy the true experience of raw comb avoid the refrigerator.
Can You Freeze Honey in the Comb?
Do you have a larger amount of comb that you want to preserve for a long while? If so, freezing is the best long term honeycomb storage option.
Wrap the piece of comb tightly in several layers of plastic wrap – or seal it in an airtight freezer container.
When you are ready to use it, remove the honey from the freezer. Then, allow it to come to room temperature before unwrapping.
Remember, moisture is the enemy of honey. When freezing pieces of honeycomb, be sure that all of the individual cells are sealed with wax. This prevents leakage that may cause air to leak between the plastic and the wax surface.
If honey is leaking from the piece of comb, I suggest placing it on a bakers cooling rack and letting the excess liquid drip off before wrapping.
As a personal preference, I have noticed that the wax edges can dry out a bit. Therefore, I recommend keeping comb submerged in a container with liquid honey or freezing for long term storage.
How Long Does Honeycomb Last?
Honeycomb does not spoil. It has an unlimited shelf-life. Honey does not go bad as long as it is protected from moisture. However, any number of sweet loving ants will try to grab a taste.
In spite of the increased cost for honey in the comb, it is a unique experience that everyone should try-at least once. Now that you know how easy it is to keep fresh, you can enjoy raw honeycomb anytime.
A Final Word
Whether you are storing honeycomb short term or long term – it will maintain its delicious properties when done right. Inside a jar of liquid honey or wrapped tightly and frozen – you will be able to enjoy it for a long time.