Deliciously sweet, sticky and yummy, honey is a familiar sight on tables set for breakfast. Did you know that you can also eat the storage container bees make for honey? The little hexagonal boxes are made from a natural wax called beeswax. Though it's a bit chewy, honeycomb makes an interesting extra ingredient when enjoying honey.
Ways to Enjoy Honeycomb
You can enjoy honeycomb for breakfast, lunch and dinner and as part of sweet and savory dishes. Rather than spreading honey on your morning toast, spread honeycomb. The small wax boxes prevent the honey from dripping off the bread, and when you bite, honey bursts into your mouth. For your breakfast drink, put a small piece of honeycomb in tea or coffee as a substitute for sugar.
Another option for eating this delicious product is as part of a charcuterie board. Make a decorative spread of cheeses, cured meats, fruits, nuts, chutneys and bread, and add three or four pieces of honeycomb. Cheeses that complement honey include blue cheese, goat cheese and hard, salty cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano.
Alternatively, simply eat honeycomb as a snack. The beeswax contains very little nutrition, but honey satisfies hunger pangs between meals. Honeycomb keeps forever, providing it doesn't absorb moisture. Store the product in airtight jars at room temperature or in the freezer.
Honey and Honeycomb
When the beekeeper harvests honey, he can also remove pieces of the full honeycomb to sell. Female worker bees create the honeycomb from wax they secrete from their abdomens. The honey the beekeeper collects may go on to be pasteurized and processed, but honeycomb is a raw, natural product. As a result, eating honeycomb isn't recommended for babies under 1 year old or people who have weakened immune systems.
Honeycomb is usually sold inside jars of honey, though you may also see sections of honeycomb alone for sale. It's cheaper for the beekeeper to remove the honey from the honeycomb so the bees can reuse the honeycomb and put their energy into making more honey. Consequently, jars that contain honeycomb are often small and pricey.
Flowers the bees visit when they collect nectar and pollen can influence the taste of honeycomb, yet it can also have no taste at all. Some strict vegans won't eat honeycomb or honey because bees produce it, so therefore, it's an animal product. In the past, honeycomb was a common sight in jars of honey as proof that the honey was genuine and not adulterated with corn syrup.
Raw Honeycomb Benefits
Beeswax contains long-chain alcohols and long-chain fatty acids. As well as wax, honeycomb also contains a kind of bee glue made by the worker bees called propolis, honey, traces of pollen and other substances. According to scientific studies, these natural, unprocessed substances may be good for your health. Also, hay fever sufferers claim that eating honey or honeycomb from their local area helps reduce their allergies.
Generally speaking, eating a little honeycomb now and then isn't likely to cause you any harm, and it may improve your health. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Overindulging in honeycomb could lead to an upset tummy, and the calories in sweet honey quickly add up and lead to weight gain.
Beekeepers have no control over where their bees collect nectar and pollen, so it's possible for honeycomb to become contaminated by pollutants. To help avoid the risk of eating harmful chemicals, eat honeycomb sold by reputable U.S. producers since the product must meet certain chemical standards.