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Honey is known for its health benefits, full of nutrients, antioxidants and helping assist the body with many nature processes.

To enjoy the benefits derived from honey, it is important to know the purity. Without this knowledge, you can buy poor quality products. Many supermarkets sell fake and impure honey, very different to what the bees produce. Many companies have taken advantage of the rising popularity of honey, making it more important than ever before to know the differences.

What is ‘fake’ honey?

Fake honey is altered, however is almost impossible to tell from real honey when its packaged. There are many ways to spot fake honey, here are some things to look out for when determining whether honey is fake or not:


Real honey is not sticky if it is rubbed between your fingers, however fake honey is sticky due to the unnatural sweeteners added in its creation. This difference is easy to test and very noticeable.


Real honey is quite thick in texture, taking time to move, whereas fake honey is very runny and quickly spills, moves and travels. The best way to test this is to see how long it takes to travel from one side of a honey jar to the other, or to put some on your finger and see if it runs straight off.


Real honey has a mild and often floral scent. This smell can change with heating and cooling, however fake honey often has no smell at all, or can have a sour scent. Knowing the difference can take a little practice, unless you have both real and fake honey to compare against in the test.


When heated, real honey will quickly become thicker, not creating any foam. Fake honey, however, will produce bubbles and will never caramelize.

The bread test

Spread honey on a slice of bread. Real honey will harden within around 60 seconds. Fake honey will never harden, making the bread moist instead due to added moisture.


Real honey doesn’t dissolve in water, instead settling at the bottom of the water in a lump. If stirred, real honey can dilute over a long time. Fake honey dissolves instantly in water due to the extra added sugar.

Matchstick test

Dip a matchstick in the honey. If the honey is real, it will easily light after being immersed, however fake honey will stop the match lighting because of the high moisture levels.


Real honey will often include small impurities, with bits of pollen or discoloured particles included. Fake honey will have no impurities, being completely clear and a consistent, smooth texture.

Methylated spirits

You can test whether honey is real or fake by combining it with methylated spirits. When mixing real honey with methylated spirits, the honey will still settle at the bottom of any container. Fake honey will not do this, instead dissolving in the methylated spirit and making the solution appear milky.


The taste of real, pure honey only remains for a couple of minutes. Fake honey will have a taste which remains for a longer period of time as the sugar keeps the taste continuing in the mouth.


If you are purchasing from a store where there are labels on the jar, this is the easiest way to understand the purity of honey. Manufacturers are required to mention any additives or additional substances which are added into the honey they produce. Take a look at the label on the honey container, if there is one, and you can quickly see if anything has been added to the pure honey, and if it has, what it is.

The healing and health benefits of honey are best when in pure form, made from the bee and not altered in any way or through any manufacturing process.

Rick Steins Cornwall

Episode 7

Rick Stein's Cornwall Series 2 Episode 7 of 15

Rick boards the ferry in Penzance to take him to the Isles of Scilly, a group of islands which were once part of Cornwall. Here, he finds out about the islands’ rich history, including one of the Royal Navy’s worst shipping disasters in which 1,500 men lost their lives.

In the world-famous gardens of Tresco, Rick meets a beekeeper attempting to breed a native Scillonian honeybee to deal with the harsh Atlantic climate. This inspires Rick to cook a honey pudding with Cornish ice cream and a butterscotch sauce.

Courtesy of Nick Bentham Green our Covid secure Apiary Visits began in April and have been of immense value to new beekeepers like me. After my first visit I put together the brief report below to illustrate their value and encourage more attendees.

On a fine day I rolled up to rather lovely setting of Coombeshead Farm and met Nick for the first time.

For the second time ever and the first time in anger I put on my bee suit. The first bit of advice from Nick was an explanation for the use of the elasticated loop at the end of each arm. By locating over your thumb it prevents the sleeves rolling up . Obvious really but not to me! ( sheltered childhood and all that).

Nick then explained how he lights his smoker and the materials he uses. For Nick this is very much a "just in case" piece of practice throughout the days inspections we did not use the smoker at all.

There are 3 active hives at Coombeshead Farm.

The first was the most active and populous. Excellent frames of capped honey, brood , larvae ,pollen etc . The queen was quickly identified. We changed some frames and due to its advanced nature added a second super to provide more space. Nick stated that this hive will be the first to potentially swarm so this hive will need careful inspection at the next visit.

The second hive was in good order albeit less advanced. The marked queen was easily spotted ( by Nick) . Again frames were exchanged and rearranged . Nick thought this hive would need a second super but on inspection the existing super was relatively empty so this was not necessary.

The third hive was the least populous and active. Although we did not see the Queen we knew she was present and active due to the eggs and larvae present. This hive was left as is other than to replace the canister of sugar solution food. No cause for concern at this stage in the season.

The idea of regular weekly visits throughout April to July is to see how each hive progresses (or not) through the busiest period of the year.

So the following week we inspected all 3 hives again. Overall all three hives had advanced but the cool weather had probably limited. The third hive had advanced the least and was a cause for mild concern. Despite thorough search we still could not find the Queen but again eggs and larvae suggested she was present but not very active. Probable strategy for following inspection was to introduce workers from another hive to bolster numbers. Amongst many other pearls of wisfom imparted by Nick an interesting discussion ensued around the use of bait boxes and how to scent with lemongrass to attract swarms.

These are a couple of photos taken on my second visit.

Rearranging frames on the edge of the brood nest to create more space for the queen to lay

A healthy frame of bees with plenty of space for laying

I am looking forward to attending Coombeshead Farm on as many Saturdays as possible through coming months and will find them invaluable when my own bees arrive in June.

Presentation via Zoom on the Asian Hornet

Last Friday 23rd April we had our zoom presentation. Gerry Stuart gave a fascinating talk on the subject of Asian Hornets, their characteristics and how Asian Hornet Action Team and the National Bee Unit work to find and eradicate. We came out with a clear idea of the threat they pose, and the responsibility we all have to assist by being vigilant and reporting accurately. Personally I also came away with a certain admiration for this insect and its way of life. Many thanks to all that attended from our Group and those from other Groups within the CBKA.

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