The debate over whether wild honey is superior to domestically-produced honey has been raging for years.
Of course, each has its pros and cons.
But in my opinion, before we can decide, we need to look in-depth at what exactly wild honey is, where it comes from, and how it is produced.
In this article, I’ll look at everything there is to know about the wonder that is wild honey.
What is wild honey?
Wild honey is produced by wild bees and stored in natural beehives in trees, between rocks, and on cliffsides. Generally speaking, the bees that produce wild honey get their nectar from wildflowers and process and store it in their hives with no human intervention. Wild honey often contains particles of honeycomb, pollen, and even fragments of bees’ wings.
Wild bees versus domesticated bees
To completely understand what wild honey is, we need to first look at the difference between wild and domesticated bees.
Wild bees are migratory in nature and move from floral source to floral source, depending on resource availability.
The University of Pennsylvania states that bees are very important in agriculture as they pollinate crops and increase the overall yield.
Wild bees set up their hives in trees, caves, rock faces, or cliffsides according to their needs.
Wild bees are also considered nomadic and will abandon their hives if they feel they should move on to a better floral source.
Domestic bees, on the other hand, are kept and raised by beekeepers in controlled environments.
This is called honey farming, and when done correctly, it is a sustainable way of producing quality, non-contaminated honey (safe for human consumption) while exercising ethical animal practices.
Wild honey versus farmed honey
One of the key differences between wild bees and domesticated bees is the type and quality of honey they produce.
On bee farms, beekeepers are tasked to keep a close eye on their bees to ensure there are no illnesses within the colony that could potentially contaminate the honey.
When they process honey out of their beehives, it is tested for contaminants and processed to a quality grade, free from particles or impurities.
Conversely, wild honey is party to no human intervention, which means it looks and can taste slightly different from the shop-bought honey we are used to.
Wild honey usually has a higher water content than domestic honey and the appearance of fine crystals that result from solidified glucose.
It also often contains particles of honeycomb, broken bee fragments, and leftover pollen.
Unfiltered, raw wild honey is cloudy in appearance and isn’t sold in supermarkets as a rule.
Wild honey and domestic honey are also harvested in different ways.
For domestic honey, beekeepers are tasked with removing honey from the hive, testing, processing, and packaging it.
Wild honey is usually tracked by honey-hunters who search for hives to harvest in the wild.
The benefits of wild honey
In the world of herbal medicine, wild honey is considered immensely beneficial for a person’s overall wellness.
According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, honey has anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimetastatic effects.
Its taste and composition can change according to season and the floral source from which bees draw their nectar.
Wild honey is considered a wonderful source of antioxidants that can benefit infections and minor wounds.
It is also said to reduce stress on the body caused by antioxidants, reducing the risk of chronic disease.
Furthermore, it has proven benefits for skincare, especially in terms of keeping it soft and supple.
The dangers of consuming wild honey
Whether or not wild honey is safe for human consumption remains a contentious issue.
That being said, it also very much depends on the hive being harvested.
Usually, concerns around wild honey are derived from the unknowns that come with finding it.
For example, with abandoned hives, there is no way to know if illness or disease affected the colony or if parasitic bacteria could’ve entered the hive since the bees left.
Hives are biodegradable, so there is always the possibility that they will start to rot before anyone finds them.
Indeed, wild bees often leave hives before honey has a chance to ripen properly.
Similarly, the higher water content in wild honey may also mean it won’t ripen to the right condition at all.
In very rare cases, wild honey has even been found to contain hallucinogens that can be fatal to humans.
While there is always the possibility that wild, raw honey is perfectly fine for humans to consume and use, there is also the chance that it may be contaminated.
Because it is untested, the consumer would be none the wiser.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wild Honey
Can you taste the difference between wild honey and commercial honey?
Raw honey tastes slightly different in that it leaves a tingle in the throat when consumed. It also has a different appearance and texture, often being cloudier and more crystallized than commercial honey.
Does wild honey have greater health benefits than normal honey?
Commercial honey is processed at high temperatures to remove any impurities or contaminants. In this regard, it is believed that raw or wild honey has greater health benefits as many of its natural properties are untampered.
What do bees eat?
Bees sustain themselves on a diet of nectar and pollen. Nectar gives them energy, and they turn it into honey through a process known as hydrolases. Pollen provides them with protein and other nutrients that they need for survival. They also transfer pollen between flowers, allowing them to grow.
In concept, there’s nothing better than wild, unadulterated honey.
However, there is always a small risk of contamination, so it’s best to buy it from a reputable dealer rather than going on a honey hunt yourself.
And if you’re not up for the risk, there are plenty of options for raw, unpasteurized honey available to purchase that are just as beneficial for your health.