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Honey is a classic food that comes straight from nature. But if you want to get even closer to honey’s wild roots, there’s another way you can experience it: through eating honeycomb.
You might be surprised to hear that the honeycomb is edible. It’s honey in its rawest form — straight from the hive. But before you go grab a whole tub of honeycomb, you probably want to know: what does honeycomb taste like?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Honeycomb?
- 2 What Does Honeycomb Taste Like?
- 3 Is Eating Honeycomb a New Trend?
- 4 How Do You Eat Honeycomb?
- 5 Can You Pair Honeycomb With Other Things?
- 6 Does Honeycomb Have Any Health Benefits?
- 7 Where Do You Buy Honeycomb?
- 8 Can You Freeze Honeycomb?
- 9 Discovering Honeycomb
- 10 Honeycomb FAQ
What is Honeycomb?
You already know that bees make honey from nectar and pollen. The honey is intended to provide a food source to the bees in colder months when there are few to no flowers in bloom.
But have you ever thought of how bees store the honey they make? They are able to produce a natural wax called beeswax that they then use to create a matri of small hexagonal “cells.” Many of these are used to store honey. As one cell fills with honey, a worker bee will seal it off and then create a cell on top of it.
But a honeycomb doesn’t just store honey. The cells of this wax comb are the ideal place for the bees to lay their eggs and house larvae.
Nobody knows for certain how honey bees are able to create the thousands of perfect, identical hexagonal cells found in each comb. Naturally, this is a phenomenon that scientists have studied for centuries!
So how does honeycomb taste, anyway?
What Does Honeycomb Taste Like?
We’re almost certain you’ve had honey at some point. But a honeycomb offers fresh, raw honey as you’ve never had it before. There’s no processing involved — when you open up each cell of beeswax, you can taste the honey exactly as the bees made it.
The wax cells of the honeycomb are thin and delicate, and they have a flaky texture that gradually reaches the consistency of bubble gum. But that’s where some people hesitate — biting through wax cells may not seem too appealing.
But if you’ve ever had wax bottle candy, you’ve experienced something at least close to eating a honeycomb. Just like the “bottle” part of the candy, the wax comb itself is tasteless. Once you’ve accessed the honey inside, you can chew on the wax like chewing gum.
In many cases, the honey on the outer edge of the honeycomb has become crunchy and crystallized. Add this to the beeswax comb, and you have a collection of unusual yet pleasant textures that are a real sensual treat!
Though the honey in the comb is likely to be among the most delicious you’ve ever had, the flavor of this natural product varies considerably depending on the kinds of pollen and nectar the bees bring back to the hive.
If you’ve ever seen jars of wildflower honey, rose honey, buckwheat honey, etc., you have an idea of how this works. The flavor of the honey is colored by the dominant pollen type the bees access nearby.
Is Eating Honeycomb a New Trend?
No — while it’s currently talked about in some health food circles, honeycomb has been eaten by many cultures for centuries. Among these cultures is ancient Egypt. The sweet taste of honey made it especially sought after back then, as ancient Egyptians were not familiar with sugar at the time.
Most cultures that utilized honey also ate both the honey and the comb at some point. They may not have known at the time, but eating the comb gives you all the benefits of eating honey and then some.
How Do You Eat Honeycomb?
As we’ll see in a moment, you can pair honeycomb with a lot of things. But how do you actually eat it? There’s no single right way to do so. You can slice or bite off pieces of the honeycomb to eat plain. Since the honeycomb makes the honey solid, you may need to chew it for a bit. Most people then chew on the remaining wax much like they would chew on gum.
You can also use honeycomb as a spread, mix it in with other foods, or use it as a topping.
Check out this video from an apiary offering some more suggestions of ways to eat honeycomb.
Can You Pair Honeycomb With Other Things?
If you’re eager to try honey in its purest form, you might want to know some recipe you can use. Of course, you can get creative and design your own dishes. But if you aren’t sure where to start, here are some suggestions:
Stir it in warm oatmeal or warm tapioca — When honeycomb is a bit warm, it becomes even more aromatic. Stirring it into pudding or oatmeal will help melt some of the wax, leaving the honey to expand into the dish.
Mix it in with Greek yogurt — If you prefer to eat sweet yogurt, you might already add honey to yours. Greek yogurt with honey is already a classic; why not improve upon it by adding nutrient-rich honeycomb?
Add it to an arugula salad with goat cheese — Goat cheese is one of those cheeses that pair well with sweet things. Add whatever else you’d like to the salad before cutting some small pieces of honeycomb and using them as a topping.
Add it to spicy chili with sour cream — Adding honeycomb to spicy chili might sound bizarre, but the honeycomb does a great job of complementing the hot flavor. Plus, it works alongside sour cream to produce a mild cooling effect. It’s a great way to make the dish more dynamic.
Use it to season grilled chicken — Whether you use honeycomb as a marinade or add it while the meat is grilling, it’s a great way to complement savory grilled chicken. It tastes especially good with many kinds of barbecue sauce.
Stir it into some tea — If you’d like your tea a bit sweeter, just stir in a little honeycomb. Warm tea with honey is a relaxing way to end a stressful day!
Does Honeycomb Have Any Health Benefits?
If you want to serve honeycomb at your next family gathering or jut want to add honeycomb to your diet, you probably want to check and see if there are any key benefits to this food when eaten raw. Luckily, there are many health benefits:
It has antimicrobial properties — Eating the wax of a honeycomb might sound weird. But if you actually ingest it, you’ll get the full antimicrobial effect. This wax may be effective in combating Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Candida albicans, and Aspergillus niger. Though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, actually eating beeswax is perfectly safe.
It boosts the immune system naturally — Bees make honey to be their sole source of food during colder months, it stands to reason that it would be rich in vitamins and other nutrients. Honeycomb is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin, thiamine, vitamin D, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. All of these vitamins work together to support your immune system. If you have a cold or a sore throat, you might heal from it faster if you get some raw honey from a honeycomb.
It’s full of micronutrients — All the honey in the honeycomb is also full of micronutrients including plant phenols. These come from bee pollen and nectar. Though micronutrients from plants might sound insignificant, they can do a great job of maintaining healthy hair, skin, and eyesight.
It may help protect your liver — There is some evidence that honey actually has anti-cancer properties. It seems to have cytotoxic effects on liver cancer cells. There is also a specific honey variety that exerts anticancer effects on breast cancer cells (but not on normal breast tissue).
There are more helpful things, too — Honeycomb mostly contains honey, but it also sometimes contains two other helpful compounds: propolis and royal jelly. Propolis is a type of resin that bees produce to “glue” the hive together. Propolis is extremely beneficial to health. It has antimicrobial and antiviral effects, it’s an antioxidant, it has anti-cancer properties, and it works as an anti-inflammatory. Some evidence suggests it may help treat some gastrointestinal disorders and reduce glycemic levels in those with Type II diabetes.
Royal jelly is a special compound made by bees. It is incredibly nutritious, and it’s fed to both the queen bee and younger, developing bees. Royal jelly has a uniquely protective effect that can help shield you from neurodegenerative disorders and some of the effects of aging. It also supports reproductive health and wound healing.
Where Do You Buy Honeycomb?
Depending on where you are in the world, your local grocery store may or may not carry honeycomb. But most health food stores will have it; the comb is typically sold in round or square tubs.
If you want to make sure that you actually like honeycomb first, you can often find jars of honey with a large piece of honeycomb in the jar. It’s much easier to find honeycomb made this way than it is to find a tub of just the comb and the honey inside!
Can You Freeze Honeycomb?
If you’re looking to store honeycomb for a long period of time, you might be thinking of freezing it. Freezing honeycomb is definitely something you can do. Make sure that you seal it in a wrap, bag, or container designed for freezer storage.
Ideally, freeze honeycomb that’s in its original sealed tub or container. If you order several tubs and don’t have the pantry space for them, you can always freeze a few of them while they’re sealed. Don’t freeze glass jars, though!
When you thaw frozen honeycomb, simply let it sit out on the counter until it completely thaws out.
When storing honeycomb in your pantry, just be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place. Much like honey you get in a jar, honeycomb does not need to be refrigerated.
From Egyptian tombs to the kitchen counter, honeycomb has been found across the world and throughout history. If you want to truly experience honey at its purest, you should absolutely try honeycomb. After all, if you’re asking “what does raw honeycomb taste like?” the best way to find out is to take a bite yourself!
Still have some questions on honeycomb? Here are some answers:
Is it OK to eat honeycomb?
Yes — it might sound odd if you haven’t heard of it. But the honeycomb is the purest form of honey, and it’s safe to eat.
What’s the point of eating honeycomb?
The unique texture of the comb is a bonus for many people, but the comb itself has some health benefits you can’t get from just eating plain honey. The beeswax itself is antimicrobial and can inhibit the growth of some major human pathogens.