Capped honey, the honey that bees have sealed with wax in the comb, is well-preserved by the bees themselves. Under the wax cappings, honey has a very low moisture content (usually around 17-18%), which is too low to support the growth of most microorganisms, including bacteria and molds. This low moisture content, coupled with the naturally acidic pH of honey, makes it highly resistant to spoilage.
In practical terms, properly capped honey can be stored in its comb for an extended period, often for years, without spoiling. The key is to keep it in a cool, dry place and protect it from moisture. Honey’s low moisture content prevents fermentation and spoilage.
When you decide to extract honey from the comb, it’s essential to use good beekeeping practices and maintain cleanliness to avoid introducing contaminants. Stored honey should be in good condition, with no signs of fermentation, off-odors, or off-flavors.
Properly stored, extracted honey can last indefinitely without spoiling. Archaeologists have even found pots of honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that are thousands of years old and still perfectly edible.
some tips for keeping honey in good condition:
- Store in Airtight Containers: Once extracted, store honey in clean, airtight containers to prevent moisture from entering and to preserve its quality.
- Keep It Dry: Honey can absorb moisture from the air, which might affect its texture and flavor over time. Seal containers tightly to prevent this.
- Avoid Contamination: Use clean utensils and containers when handling honey. Avoid introducing foreign substances that could affect its quality.
- Cool and Dark Place: Store honey in a cool, dark place. Excessive heat can cause honey to darken and affect its flavor.
- No Need for Refrigeration: There’s no need to refrigerate honey. In fact, refrigeration can cause honey to crystallize more quickly. Room temperature storage is ideal.
Remember that honey is a natural product; its flavor and texture may change over time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it has spoiled. Crystallization, for example, is a natural process in which honey becomes thicker and grainy. You can easily return crystallized honey to its liquid state by gently warming it in a water bath.