Before international trade developed in the 18th century that expanded the availability of "the reed which gives honey without bees,” or cane sugar, there was wild honey -- with wild bees. As you can easily imagine, there was only one way to get honey and that was to climb a tree or mound and persuade a hive of approximately 50,000 buzzing bee warriors to relinquish at least some of the sweet syrup it took them 2 million flowers to collectively visit for each of the 60 - 100 pounds of honey produced each season. Early bee-whispering was not a task for the faint of heart. But, oh, the sweet reward!

What else could be any better than golden, gooey honey? Herbal honey – a magical elixir born of the marriage of tradition and modern science, where wild bee ambrosia meets leaf and flower of the field. Just as humans have foraged for honey and eventually began keeping bees for the purpose of harvesting honey, so too were the ancients aware of the beneficial properties of many plants, seeds and fruits. In fact, the lesson we can learn from this wisdom today is that honey, especially one enhanced with herbs, isn’t just a sweetener; it’s a functional food.

some HERBS and SPICES to try
rose petal
rose petals, whole
Rosepetals have astringent activity and contain at least 20 phenolic compounds,including ellagitannins and several anthocyanins. In addition to thiscombination producing flavorful honey to make spreads or sweeten foods, use itin skin care formulas.
lavender, whole
Lavender blossoms contain 100 active chemicals, among them limonene, camphor, coumarins, tannins and triterpenes. Lavender-infused honey is wonderful on the skin, as well as drizzled over ice cream, chocolate desserts and fresh fruit, or added to cake batter to add flavor and retain moisture.
buy bulk sage
sage, whole
Sage contains 1,8-cineole (also known as eucalyptol), an ingredient in many cough suppressants. Honey infused with sage makes a great syrup on its own, or is soothing combined with lemon juice and stirred into tea.
cinnamon chips, cut & sifted
This spice owes its aroma and flavor to dozens of aromatic compounds, including eugenol. Honey enhanced with cinnamon is delicious stirred into tea, added to baked goods, drizzled over pancakes or hot cereals.
buy star anise
star anise, whole
Star Anise gets its flavor from anethole, the same compound found in anise. It also contains shikimic acid, a component of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu). This honey-spice pairing adds warm, spicy flavor to cereals, tea blends, baked goods, liquors (it’s an ingredient in Galliano) and cocktails.
buy bulk vanilla
vanilla bean, whole
The complex aroma and flavor of vanilla – somewhat floral and bourbon-like — is due to more than 250 compounds in the seeds, most notably vanillin. Honey infused with vanilla is extraordinary in just about anything you would use honey for, including hair and skin care.

try some HERBAL HONEY recipes
for the love of HONEY
for the love of HONEY

Spice up dessert and romance your partner at the same time! This delightful honey pairs well with ice cream, chocolate brownies or cake, strawberries, pears and peaches.

1 whole vanilla bean
½ cup dried rose petals (or, if using fresh, let them wilt for an hour to reduce moisture)
½ cup dried damiana

Slice along the length of the vanilla bean to expose the seeds. Scrape the seeds into a large canning jar (retain the bean to make infused sugar!). Add the damiana to the jar. Pour the honey over all. Let the mixture settle for a bit, then release air bubbles as needed. Set the jar in a sunny location to infuse for 4 weeks. Note: Taste the honey after 2 weeks. If it needs more rose flavor, just add more (wilted) petals and put the jar back. At the end of infusing time, strain the honey through a wire mesh strainer. (It’s okay if little bits of herb remain.) Store in a cool, dry place.
sage and thyme HONEY
sage + thyme HONEY

This honey is very soothing in tea when a scratchy throat strikes, or simply taken as a syrup off the spoon. It’s also great to brush on grilled chicken for the last few minutes of cooking, or drizzle it over goat cheese and pears, or cottage cheese. The kids will enjoy a dab mixed with peanut butter on a graham cracker as a quick snack.

1 quart organic, raw honey
½ cup dried thyme
½ cup dried sage

Place the herbs in the bottom of a large canning jar. Add the honey and release any air bubbles that may form once the mixture settles. Cap the jar and place in a sunny spot for 3 weeks. Strain and return the honey to the jar or transfer to small jars, if you wish. Store in a cool, dry place. Note: If the specks of herbs left in the honey bother you, place the herbs in a muslin bag before adding it to the jar and remove it after infusing.
ginger-lemon HONEY
ginger-lemon HONEY

There’s no need to strain the ginger and lemon zest from this honey after infusing. They add visual appeal and pleasant bursts of flavor! This honey is excellent to use in dressings, teas, cordials and as grilling sauce for chicken.

1 quart organic, raw honey
½ cup candied ginger, chopped 2 tablespoons lemon zest

Drop the chopped ginger and lemon zest into a large canning jar. Pour over the honey. Cap the jar and place in a sunny spot for 2 weeks. Note: You may need to release a few air bubbles with a knife or skewer, or need to add more honey as the ingredients settle. Set the jar in a sunny spot for 2-3 weeks in a cool, dry place. Optional: For an extra zesty variation, add 3 or 4 tablespoons of chopped garlic to the jar before adding honey.
chai HONEY
chai HONEY

This herbal honey is wonderful stirred into green tea or drizzled over pancakes, waffles, vanilla ice cream or fruit salad.

1 quart organic, raw honey
12 whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
4 good sized pieces of candied ginger, chopped
2 star anise
1 whole vanilla bean, cut into 2-3 pieces
1 whole cinnamon stick (or 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips)
1 tablespoon dried orange peel
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds

Pour the honey into a large canning jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place the spices in a muslin bag and tie off. Add the spice bag to the jar and, using a chop stick, pencil or other tool, poke the bag down so that it becomes immersed in the honey. Replace the cap and place the jar on a sunny windowsill for 2-3 weeks, or until the desired flavor is reached. Remove the spice bag and replace the lid or transfer to smaller jars, if you wish. Store in a cool, dry place.

sandman spread RECIPE
sandman spread

This herbal honey spread is helpful taken straight off a teaspoon about 30 minutes before retiring. Alternatively, spread it on toast or mix it into herbal tea (no caffeine here, please). There’s no need to infuse over time—simply mix and it’s ready.

2 cups organic, raw honey
2 teaspoons powdered passionflower
2 teaspoons powdered hops
1 teaspoon powdered skullcap
1 teaspoon powdered chamomile

Use a mortar and pestle or a coffee/spice grinder to powder the herbs, if not using pre-powdered materials. Combine the honey and herbs in a small bowl or a large measuring cup. Pour into a glass jar and secure the lid. Store in a cool, dry place and enjoy as needed.

the bees knees honey spread

The collection of aromatic botanicals in this recipe give this honey spread a kick of flavor and inflammation-fighting agents. Enjoy 1-3 teaspoons as-is or stirred into green tea throughout the day.

2 cups organic, raw honey
1 teaspoon powdered meadowsweet
1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
1 teaspoon powdered fennel seed
1 teaspoon powdered black cohosh
1 teaspoon powdered anise
1 teaspoon bee pollen granules

Use a mortar and pestle or a coffee/spice grinder to powder the herbs, if not using pre-powdered materials. Combine the herbs and bee pollen in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the honey and stir to combine. Store in a glass jar in a cool, dry place.

the bees knees honey spread

and some of our other NEWSLETTERS that might be of interest

Golden Blossom Honey, Honeybees

National Audubon Society, Meet the Greater Honeyguide, the Bird That Understands Humans

Smithsonian Magazine, The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life

Precision Nutrition, All About Honey & Bees

American Bee Journal, The Internal Anatomy of the Honey Bee

Sweet Remedies, Healing Herbal Honeys,
Dawn Combs, Storey Publishing, 2019

Cendrowski A, Ścibisz I, Mitek M, et al., Profile of the Phenolic Compounds of Rosa rugosa Petals.
Journal of Food Quality, Volume 2017

Hamidpour M, Hamidpour R, Hamidpour S, Shahlari M. , Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Property of Sage (Salvia) to Prevent and Cure Illnesses such as Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Dementia, Lupus, Autism, Heart Disease, and Cancer.
Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, Volume 4(2); Apr-Jun

National Honey Board