Are honeycombs better than bottled honey?

Shelf life of honey: how long does it stay good?

Many beekeepers have their honey examined after the harvest. But what if the honey is stored for months before it reaches the customer? Does it still have the certified quality? A study by the State Institute for Apiculture in Hohen Neuendorf provides information on the shelf life of honey.

Dr. Birgit Lichtenberg-Kraag heads the honey laboratory of the State Institute for Apiculture in Hohen Neuendorf and tested the shelf life of honey in a detailed test together with her colleague Dr. Jens Radtke examines. She summarizes the results in the following questions and answers:

What did you want to find out with your study on the shelf life of honey?

Edition 06/2021

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Lichtenberg-Kraag: We wanted to bring different factors together. What is the nature of the processing? And how do honeys change when they are stored? What does the beekeeper have to consider in order to be able to offer quality honey? We were particularly interested in unwanted changes in consistency, such as coarse crystallization, phase separation and flower formation.

It is always recommended to harvest the honey dry and store it in a cool, dark and dry place. But that often does not correspond to reality. It is not always stirred and bottled immediately. Many beekeepers let their honey set in hobbocks and only process it later when they have the time. We have orientated ourselves towards this. We wanted to study conditions that really exist among beekeepers.

Shelf life of honey: still good after two years?

Were all honeys still marketable after two years?

Lichtenberg-Kraag: If you apply the quality criteria of the German Beekeeping Association, the result was as follows:

  • The samples that had been kept cool or stored in the apiary were still in order.
  • In contrast, the enzyme activities of two spring honeys that had been stored at 20 ° C had slipped below the limit value.
  • The HMF value was too high in three cases.

Those are just the chemical criteria. In terms of consistency, there were many more samples that after two years no longer met the requirements for quality honey. The honeys were still marketable, but that was not our question.

How long is the shelf life of honey?

The third storage variant from your experiment sounds unusual: You put the honey in an apiary.

Lichtenberg-Kraag: