Updated on October 23rd, 2020
“Honeycomb” often refers to the wax structure bees use to store food and raise brood. Since we’re talking about eating here, we mean that portion of the comb that contains capped honey, also called “comb honey.”
Comb honey is the purest form of raw honey. It’s the natural state you’ll find honey in a beehive. Raw honey may contain pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and other material (like teeny tiny bee parts) that are beneficial.
See our article What Is Raw Honey? for more information
In this article, we’ll explain how to eat comb honey for those of you unsure about it.
Is Honeycomb Edible?
Yes. Honeycomb is edible.
This question is raised by most people because of the beeswax (I think we all know the honey is edible…Yummy!)
Beeswax is naturally produced by the bees and formed into the hexagonal (six-sided) cells that make up the comb. The wax consists mainly of fatty acids and fatty alcohols that are edible by humans.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration includes beeswax on its list of food for human consumption and generally recognized as safe.
An important exception: do NOT feed any honey (or honey comb) to infants under one year of age. Infants that young have not developed the beneficial bacteria to protect them from spores that cause botulism. (See How can I protect my baby from infant botulism? on the Mayo Clinic website.) Also, some recommend avoiding honey during pregnancy for similar reasons.
How To Eat Honeycomb
Now that you know it’s edible, we’ll recommend several ways to eat comb honey.
I most often eat honeycomb by cutting off a chunk and chewing it.
It doesn’t take long to get all that sweet, golden nectar out of the comb. Eventually, you end up with what feels like a waxy chunk of flavorless gum.
You can swallow it, but I don’t find it appealing. Just spit it out and grab another piece.
Heat softens beeswax. Putting comb honey on hot food (toast, pancakes, waffles, etc.) softens the wax making it more spreadable and easier to swallow.
If you’re eating something not heated (like a cracker), just cut a very thin slice of honeycomb. Thin slices are easier to spread as they contain less wax.
Once the honeycomb is spread, you’ll hardly notice the wax as you eat it. Feel free to add some cheese or jam or whatever you like to your honeycomb cracker.
Crush And Strain Honeycomb
If you the wax not to your liking, you can extract the honey yourself.
When we cut up harvested honeycomb, some leftover odds and ends don’t make sense to save.
We crush these pieces (a potato masher works fine) and pour the results into a standard kitchen strainer over a bowl. This separates the honey from large particles of wax. Let it drain for about 24 hours, and most of the honey will be out of the comb. Pour it into a clean jar, and you’ve got raw honey.
Benefits Of Eating Honeycomb
As the rawest form of honey (honey precisely as the bees made it), honeycomb contains all the material that processed honey eliminates.
Most mass-produced honey you find in stores has been heated, pasteurized, and filtered in a way that removes or destroys many components of raw honey such as pollen, propolis, and royal jelly.
These various products of honey bees have multiple benefits as described in a recent research paper. (Source: Pasupuleti, Visweswara Rao et al. “Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity vol. 2017 (2017): 1259510. doi:10.1155/2017/1259510).
This research paper includes the following charts highlighting some benefits of these hive products :
Risks Of Eating Honeycomb
As mentioned earlier, honeycomb (or honey in any form) should not be fed to infants less than a year old. There are a few other risks worth mentioning.
If you are allergic to bees or pollen, you may want to avoid honeycomb.
Although the National Honey Board says that “the amount of pollen in honey is minuscule,” you could experience an allergic reaction.
When we extract honey from our hives, we are careful not to let too much wax go down the sink drain. This wax can harden and clog the pipes.
The same thing can happen to your internal “pipes.” Overeating honeycomb may cause stomach or intestinal blockages.
How much is too much? I don’t know that there’s a firm answer to that question. It’s one reason I generally spit out the wax and use it sparingly as a spread.
The Mayo Clinic says, “seek immediate medical care if you have severe abdominal pain or other symptoms of intestinal obstruction” such abdominal pain, constipation or swelling of the abdomen and others (see Intestinal Obstruction on the Mayo Clinic website).
Honey’s High Caloric Content
Honey is about 40% fructose, a form of sugar. It has more calories than table sugar by volume: 16 calories per teaspoon for sugar vs. 21 calories for honey.
Like any food high in calories, honey can contribute to weight gain and the associated complications. Be sure to count it as part of your sugar intake.
Where To Buy Honeycomb
The best place to buy honeycomb is from a local beekeeper. You may also find in a gourmet food market in your area.
If you can’t find it locally there are online sellers:
- Of course, you can buy honeycomb online at Amazon here.
- Savanna Bee Company sells honeycomb and other hive products.
Honeycomb, or comb honey, is edible, wax and all. As honey in its rawest form, it’s not only delicious but it carries all the beneficial nutrients and enzymes you want from honey.
Chew it and spit out (or swallow the wax). Spread it on whatever you like. Most of all, enjoy it.