Honey separation: truth and myths

The main product of beekeeping is honey. This is a favorite delicacy of many, but not everyone knows how to properly store honey, where it is better, in what conditions and in what container to keep it. But these factors determine whether it will remain healthy and tasty until the next harvest.

Fresh honey is a very healthy product. It is a natural immunomodulator and antibiotic. It contains a whole complex of vital vitamins, organic and inorganic acids and microelements. Carbohydrates, which the product contains 70-80% of the total mass, provide us with vitality and energy.

It may differ in composition depending on the variety, as well as on the soil and climate of the area where it was collected. The product has a different consistency, color from light yellow, almost transparent, to rich brown.

Full preservation of properties is possible only if all storage conditions are met. If they are violated, honey will not only become tasteless, but in some cases can cause harm to health. How to properly store honey at home?

How long can it be stored?

The shelf life of honey directly depends on the storage conditions. At optimal constant temperature, low humidity and in sealed packaging, the product can be stored for several decades. There is a known case when scientists, during excavations in Egypt, found honey that had lain for hundreds of years, and it was edible. Therefore, the shelf life of this delicacy is determined by the specific conditions of detention.

But beekeepers do not recommend storing the product for future use for more than two years. This is explained by the fact that it is difficult to create conditions in an apartment under which all properties remain unchanged, and the taste may deteriorate.

Many people love liquid honey; it can be preserved in this state for a period of two weeks to several months. However, general storage conditions do not play the most important role in this process. Crystallization is a normal state of a natural product. How long it will take depends on the variety and partly on the temperature; the lower it is, the faster the honey will harden. The best way to keep honey liquid for the longest time is in honeycombs; we’ll tell you how to do this later.

Honey can range in color from light yellow, almost transparent, to deep brown

Note! Sugaring is a normal process for a natural product.

Unripe honey has a much shorter shelf life. It takes longer to crystallize due to the large amount of water it contains, and fermentation processes are accelerated. Therefore, a product that is pumped out ahead of time is not stored for longer than six months.

Sometimes honey separates. The mass at the bottom is thicker and opaque - this is glucose, at the top it is liquid, translucent - this is fructose. This fact does not indicate damage to the product. To eat it, just stir the mass until it has a homogeneous consistency.

Types of honey

Let's look at what varieties can have this color and why.


Honeydew is considered the darkest. It is also rich in nutrients and has virtually no odor. Its taste is quite exotic - with the presence of bitterness. It is made from sap fermented by bees, which appears on the leaves at high temperatures. But honeydew is as harmful to bees as poison. It is very useful for humans to strengthen the immune system. The name comes from the word honeydew, which means plant sap processed by insects.


This species is also characterized by a rich brown color with a red tint. It contains many proteins and valuable minerals. It is often used to improve appetite. It cannot be used to feed bees in winter. Heather is distinguished by its viscosity. It thickens quickly and is often “striped.” After a long period of storage, the sweetness is more like jelly. In honeycombs it can harden so much that difficulties arise during pumping.


For its production, forest honey plants are used - rose hips, hawthorn, viburnum, maple, wild fruit trees and so on. Since there are quite a lot of components, the color, which can vary from light to brown, depends on the predominance of one or another. If you are interested in this variety, we suggest you learn more about it from the article about forest honey.


The variety has a rich brown hue and is easily recognized by its resinous taste and corresponding aroma. It has a viscous consistency and does not tend to crystallize. Compared to some flower varieties, it has more crystals and amino acids.


To make this type, nectar and pollen are used from various flowers and herbs that bees find in the meadows. Meadow honey is considered first-class. Its color can vary from light to brown.


This type has a dark color and a bitter taste. It is made from the nectar of chestnut flowers. The horse chestnut flowers themselves are white and pink. Despite the brown color, the consistency is transparent. It is useful for diseases of the stomach and kidneys, and has antimicrobial properties.

Please note: since chestnut itself is low-allergenic, honey with its components may be suitable for those who are allergic to honey.


It has a citrus aroma and not surprisingly, as it is made from tangerine, orange and lemon nectar. It can also be brown in color, but is often bright yellow.


This honey is also brown in color; it can be brown, brownish-brown or brown. In its production, nectar from Angelica officinalis flowers is used.


It is made from nectar from the flowers of the hyssop plant and is quite dark in color. The flowers themselves are dark blue. This essential oil plant is specially planted near apiaries, and the honey made from it is considered first-class. It is used as a wound healing agent, as well as for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and bronchitis.

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This species is brown in color and is very valuable and useful. Due to the fact that eucalyptus is not a common plant for Russia, the price of this variety is quite high. This color is explained by the presence of a large amount of minerals (manganese, copper, iron).


This variety is characterized by a dark brown tone. It is quite aromatic and tasty. It is also used as a healing agent, as it contains vitamins and microelements in large quantities. It is not difficult to guess from the name that chicory is used in its production - small blue-lilac flowers. Everyone has probably seen them, but this type of honey is not found as often as chicory itself.


Burdock honey can vary in color, but also comes in a dark olive tone. It has a viscous consistency and has a harsh but spicy aroma. Working bees collect it from the dark pink small flower hairy burdock, as well as from burdock. The variety is known for its cleansing, nourishing and diuretic properties.


The buckwheat variety is also dark in color. To make it you need nectar from the flowers of common buckwheat. The buckwheat variety is quite common, it is considered high-grade and very healthy - it contains enough glucose, proteins, fructose and minerals.

Storage conditions

To preserve the beneficial properties and taste, it is necessary to create conditions similar to the microclimate in the hive. Long-term storage of honey at home is ensured by:

  • Optimal storage temperature;
  • Low air humidity;
  • Lack of lighting.

Bees maintain temperatures from +5 ˚C to +15 ˚C degrees at any time of the year. This is the ideal value for storing treats. As the temperature rises, fermentation processes accelerate and honey can ferment, especially if it is not ripe. The product will darken and acquire an unpleasant bitter taste.

Create storage conditions that support the bees themselves

Storing honey in conditions below 0˚C will cause the product to quickly become sugary. At the same time, it turns white and hardens.

The second enemy of honey, after high temperature, is the sun's rays. They will lead to the destruction of useful substances. Therefore, it is better to store the product in a dark place where even diffuse light does not penetrate.

The optimal humidity level is no higher than 70%. It is better if this indicator is lower, since excess moisture leads to souring of the product.

Natural causes

Often, separation into layers occurs due to the same ratio of fructose and glucose in the product. The fact is that under the influence of fructose, honey does not harden, but remains liquid. Glucose, on the contrary, leads to crystallization. Usually there is not much fructose in bee gold, and separation does not occur.

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When you buy honey of a certain variety, for example, linden or acacia, no one can guarantee that it does not contain nectar from other plants. You can’t order the bees, even if the apiary is located on large plantations, they can collect pollen and nectar from plants in the neighboring forest. This is also a possible reason why honey is liquid on top and thick on the bottom.

Where can I store it?

Honey has an almost unlimited shelf life, but if the location is chosen incorrectly, it can go bad in just a few days. Where to store honey in an apartment? There are many options: in a dark closet, refrigerator, cellar and even on the balcony. But is it possible to preserve all the qualities of the product there?

At room temperature

You can simply store it in a closet or a dark corner of your apartment at room temperature, but this will affect the quality and shelf life of the honey. Especially if the room temperature often exceeds +20 ˚C. If there are no other options other than storing honey at home, it is recommended to place the sealed container in the coldest place on the floor. A jar stored in such conditions can last up to six months.

In a refrigerator

It is better to store honey at home in the lower section of the refrigerator, where the fruit is kept. It maintains a constant temperature and low humidity. Another plus is the lack of light.

But if the temperature in the refrigerator is below +5 ˚C, be prepared for the honey to turn white and hard very quickly.

It is important that the jar is well packaged, as the product absorbs foreign odors. Storing honey even for a long time in the refrigerator will definitely not lead to its hopeless spoilage.

To prevent honey from turning white and thickening quickly, avoid too low temperatures.

On the balcony

A balcony or loggia is not the best place for honey, but you can still store it there, subject to certain conditions:

  • The air temperature outside should not exceed +20 ˚C and fall below +5 ˚C, so the jar can be left on the balcony in early autumn or late spring;
  • The container must be reliably protected from any lighting;
  • The container must be sealed to prevent moisture and odors from penetrating inside.

It is advisable that the balcony be glazed and overlook the shaded side of the house, then temperature changes in it will be less noticeable, and the honey will be preserved better.

In the cellar

The temperature in the cellar of a private house fully meets the requirements for storing delicacies, but the humidity level is usually higher than the permissible norm. Foreign odors can also change the quality of the product. Therefore, to store honey at home in the cellar, you need to pack it well so that air does not penetrate under the lid.

What container should the product be in?

The preservation of the product’s taste and shelf life depend on the container in which the honey is placed and how tightly it is packed. Due to the unsealed jar, it will absorb moisture and odors from the air. And some types of containers can completely ruin a healthy product and even make it hazardous to health. So, what should you store the treats in?

Clay pot

Our grandmothers also used clay containers to store honey in pots. The delicacy is stored in them for a long time and retains all its properties. Such dishes do not allow light to pass through, and thick walls maintain a constant temperature of the product.

To seal honey in a clay pot hermetically, you can use wax. Paraffin from candles is not suitable for this; use only natural beeswax. It needs to be melted and poured directly onto the candied honey, and when you want to try the sweet product, just remove the top layer.

A clay pot is an ideal storage container

Glass jar

Not everyone has clay dishes on hand; glass is a good and affordable alternative. It, just like ceramics, does not react with the product, keeping it in its original form. In addition, the glass jar can be tightly closed with a lid, which eliminates contact of the product with moist air and odors. Since glass allows light to pass through, the container should be stored in a dark place.

Plastic container

We already contain almost all products in plastic containers, but is it possible to store honey in plastic containers? This is an ideal container for selling and temporarily storing the product during transportation, but it is still undesirable to leave honey in it for a long period of time. Plastic is not always neutral and can react with products, especially if the container has been used for more than one year. The material can absorb food residues and odors, which are difficult to wash off. It is permissible to keep honey in a plastic container for no more than a month in the refrigerator.

Wooden utensils

Another storage method that our ancestors used was in wooden barrels. The wood cools and heats up slowly, so the temperature of the product will not change sharply. The container does not allow light to pass through. But it doesn't suit everything. A wooden barrel is difficult to pack hermetically, and if another product was previously stored in it, it will certainly absorb its smell. It is best if the barrel is new and made of beech, birch or linden. And you need to pour a little wax on the thickened product.

Metal containers

Metal containers are used by beekeepers to contain large volumes of product. It must be made of stainless steel. Metals containing alloys of lead, zinc and copper are absolutely not suitable. They react with the product. The penetration of metal oxides into it will not only spoil the taste and smell, but can also be dangerous to human health.

Honey can also be stored directly in honeycombs

Storage in honeycombs

Honey in honeycombs should be stored under the same microclimate conditions as without them. Proper storage in honeycombs: to preserve delicacies for a long period, the honeycombs should be placed in sterile glass jars, completely filled with liquid honey and sealed tightly. Can be kept in the refrigerator or in the basement for no more than 1 year.

To increase the storage time, honeycombs with honey should be filled with wax and covered with a lid. In this form, they can retain their taste and beneficial properties for 10 years.

What affects the color of honey

The color of honey can vary from very light, almost white, to a dark shade of brown. The color of the honey will depend on what time the honey was harvested, from which plants, and the state of crystallization. In addition, the color of honey can be influenced by the breed of bees, as well as the method of obtaining this product, the condition and quality of the honeycombs. During a short-term honey harvest, during which the bribes are very abundant, the honey obtained is light in color.

The color and quality of botanical natural honey can be influenced by many factors . These include climate, geographic location, chemical composition of the soil, time of year, weather conditions, breed of honey bees, honey plants, and so on.

This can be seen in the example of linden honey. Linden honey collected from the Far East in the spring will be lighter in color than collected in the fall. Dying substances in nectar that affect color are carotene, chlorophylls, xaltophil.

It is generally accepted that the lighter the honey among the botanical variety, the higher its quality. Thus, the well-known honey from acacia is of high quality and is considered first-class. But, despite the popularity of linden honey, it can also be dark in color. And this is explained by the fact that when collecting nectar from linden flowers, bees can also pick up honeydew.

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Honey is sorted into four groups: white or colorless; cream or amber; yellow or amber; brown or brown.

Frequently asked questions about storing treats

During storage of the product, changes in its appearance, taste and smell may occur. They are associated with natural processes or with a violation of any maintenance rule.

Why did the honey thicken?

As we have already mentioned, the acquisition of a white tint and sugaring of the product is normal for honey. It has not deteriorated, but, on the contrary, can now be stored for a long time without losing its properties. It is undesirable to melt a product if it has been candied, even in a water bath; when heated, it releases a toxic substance, and most of the vitamins are destroyed. Almost all types of honey crystallize, except acacia and honeydew.

Why did the product separate?

Segregation may indicate a high glucose content in the product or excess moisture. It is better not to store such honey at room temperature; it should be placed in the refrigerator and stirred before eating.

Honey has turned a darker shade, what does this mean?

If the product has darkened, it means it needs to be stored at a lower temperature. If the taste and smell have not changed, honey can be eaten, but its beneficial properties have already been reduced. Honey also darkens if it separates. In this case, darkened honey can also be eaten.

Why does honey foam?

Air bubbles floating to the surface indicate that active fermentation processes have begun in the product. First, the product acquires a pronounced natural odor, then gives off alcohol. This is the only reason why honey foams. This is possible if it was pumped out unripe or the temperature and humidity of storage were disturbed.

If honey is not candied for a long time, this does not mean that you bought a fake

Honey has not thickened - is it fake?

The reason why honey is not candied and thickens may not only be counterfeit, but it is also possible that a sufficient period has not yet passed for the product to crystallize, usually 3-5 months. What kind of honey does not thicken for a long time: white acacia and honeydew.

How can you tell if a treat has gone bad?

If the product has acquired a bitter taste, an unnatural color or a sour smell with abundant foam on the surface, these are sure signs that it is no longer suitable for consumption.

Honey can be stored for a very long time and the product will retain its beneficial properties and taste. But compliance with the conditions of detention, as well as the original quality of the product, are very important in this process. It doesn’t matter how long honey is stored, it’s how.

Why does honey separate?

Honey consists of several types of sugars.
Glucose and sucrose crystallize first, fructose remains more liquid. Depending on the ratio of these sugars in honey, crystallization proceeds slower or faster. If glucose is contained in honey in small quantities, and fructose predominates, then during crystallization two layers of honey are formed - a liquid and a denser, granular lower layer. If glucose predominates, then over time a “cap” resembling nougat may form, this will be glucose.

Honey separation is possible in several cases:

1) During storage, some varieties of honey, already crystallized, may have a clear or dark liquid (the taste is the same honey, not sour, without signs of fermentation, such liquid may be 1-3 cm).

This is due to the amount of moisture contained in honey (the moisture norm in honey is up to 22%): if the amount of moisture does not exceed 14-19%, the honey practically does not produce such exfoliations (such honey is conventionally called “dry”), the crystallization of such honey is dense , hard.

If the amount of moisture is 19-22%, then on the surface (or in the middle, if the honey is only packaged and has not yet settled) more liquid honey may appear; during long-term storage, its amount may increase, the crystallization of such honey is soft, it is important that the exfoliation process and the indicated amount of moisture in both cases does not in any way affect the quality or beneficial properties of honey. In both cases, such honey can be stored for a long time without loss of quality.

2) In the container where the honey is stored, honey of different varieties or from different types, but from the same apiary, is mixed. In this case, as a rule, one type of honey separates from the other. Honey with such signs of separation is allowed for consumption and sale without restrictions!

3) The separation of adulterated honey differs from the above cases. NOT natural honey purchased in a liquid state begins to separate almost immediately after purchase, within a week.

4) When storing unripe honey (honey that was pumped out without allowing it to ripen in the hive, it contains more than 21% moisture), liquid may appear on the surface. The taste quickly becomes sour. The honey itself shows signs of fermentation. This liquid may be half or more of the total mass of honey. Dense foam appears on the surface. This is due to the excess moisture contained in honey. Such honey is already considered to be of poor quality from the very beginning.

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Fermented honey cannot be eaten, and it is simply not tasty, it is sour.

When storing honey in a loosely closed package indoors with high air humidity, liquid may appear on the surface of the honey - a waterlogged layer in which the fermentation process can begin. This is due to the property of honey as hygroscopicity, i.e. the ability of honey to absorb moisture from the surrounding space. To prevent this, store honey in a tightly sealed container.

And remember, only a honey product can look perfect, especially after a year. After a while, real honey will definitely show a predominance of glucose or fructose, acquire a “cap” or release a little liquid to the surface. Literally 2-3 varieties (angelica, acacia) always remain uniform.

Therefore, real honey is even easier to identify when it is six months or more old. And many are thirsty for freshly pumped liquid honey...

The article uses materials from the books “Honey and honey therapy”, Stoymir Mladenov - 1974, “Honey”, V.D. Chernigov - 1979, as well as advice from beekeepers, no longer in the first generation.

Choose real honey and be healthy.

Quality honey 1

High-quality honey 2 (recently packaged), when it stands a little longer, there will be an even separation, as in Figure 1.

Poor quality honey 1

Low-quality honey.2 A kind of foam on top, with a strong smell of fermentation; under the foam there is heterogeneous honey with a sour taste

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