Natural honeycomb is created by honeybees, who use the hexagonal openings to store honey and pollen, and to safely house larvae. These wax cells are an important part of a honeybee hive, but is honeycomb good for you? As it turns out, not all honeycomb is the same, and honeycomb health benefits vary. Let’s take a closer look at this ancient, fascinating food.
Benefits of Eating Honeycomb
Can you eat honeycomb? This is a common question, even though people have been eating it for thousands of years. Most of the raw honeycomb available for sale is fresh, new comb that has only been used for pollen and honey stores. It’s easily distinguished from broodcomb, which contains honeybee larvae, and which has a dark color that’s caused partly by the bees walking across it over time. Because honey bee populations are threatened, beekeepers in most western nations are very careful to protect the broodcomb. In some countries, beekeepers do harvest bee brood, as it is considered a good source of protein and other essential nutrients.
The practice is definitely falling out of favor, and some honey producers are returning most of the honeycomb to the hive for bees to refill, as making honeycomb requires lots of energy and bees must consume about 8 pounds of honey to produce just one pound of honeycomb. The good news is that a little bit of honeycomb goes a long way!
Raw Honeycomb Benefits
You might already know that raw, unfiltered honey offers incredible health benefits. Not only it delicious, it gives your immune system a boost and it can even help you deal with seasonal allergies if you buy your raw honey from a local hive. As with that delicious raw comb honey, benefits are to be had from enjoying honeycomb.
Even though honey contains natural sugar, one of the main benefits of honeycomb is its ability to help clean gums and teeth. When you chew on honeycomb, the wax scrapes plaque off your teeth and stimulates your gums. You’ll still need to brush and floss, but since honeycomb is naturally antibacterial, it can join oil pulling as an important part of a natural dental cleaning regimen.
Good Source of Very Long Chain Fatty Acids
Bees manufacture the wax that makes up a honeycomb, so there’s nothing artificial about it. natural honeycomb contains long-chain esters (alcohols), along with very long chain fatty acids. Together, these alcohols and very long chain fatty acids can help raise good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol. If you’re not a fan of fish, you might consider eating a bit of honeycomb on a regular basis to help your heart stay healthy!
Can I Eat Honeycomb if I’m Allergic to Bees?
If bee stings cause an allergic reaction, it’s probably best to choose other natural foods. Eating honeycomb can sometimes stimulate negative responses in people who are allergic to bees.
Be on the lookout for honeycomb and honey allergy symptoms if you are sensitive to bee stings. Honey allergies sometimes present themselves in people who are severely allergic to pollen, too. The most common symptoms include severe itching with red, swollen patches, vomiting and diarrhea, and constant sneezing. In people who are severely allergic to bees, honey and honeycomb can lead to anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening and requires immediate emergency intervention.
If your allergy is very mild and you enjoy raw honey with no side effects, you might consider asking your doctor whether it’s ok to try a very small amount of honeycomb and see how your body responds.
Eat the Honey, Not Just the Comb
As it turns out, honeycomb offers few proven health benefits all by itself, with the exception of those mentioned above. Beeswax eaten with unprocessed honey serves as a platform for natural glucose and sucrose, which are simple sugars that the body uses for quick energy. Other nutrients found in raw honey include B vitamins, digestive enzymes, and amino acids. Like honeycomb, raw honey offers antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals.
When you eat a bit of honeycomb dripping with fresh raw honey, you’re also ingesting a little bit of bee pollen, which is a mixture of plant nectar, digestive enzymes from the bees’ saliva, and plant pollen. Bee pollen is often extracted and sold separately as a dietary supplement. When you eat raw honey with comb, you’re getting some bee pollen benefits including a bit of an added energy boost and some extra fiber, B-vitamins, fatty acids, and protein.
It’s worth noting that despite the benefits of eating honeycomb, it’s entirely possible to go overboard and have too much of a good thing. Because beeswax cannot be broken down by the digestive system, large amounts of honeycomb can stick together. Over time, excessive intake can cause the honeycomb to accumulate in your digestive tract, ultimately leading to a blockage that might have to be surgically removed.
Enjoy the Health Benefits of Honeycomb: How to Eat Honeycomb
Some people choose to simply chew on a small piece of honeycomb wax for four to six hours at a time and simply spit it out when they are finished. This is a fantastic strategy to consider if you’re looking for a natural alternative to chewing gum, since honeycomb offer a slightly sweet, floral flavor that most people find pleasant. If you want to eat honeycomb, you can try a tiny bit all by itself, or you can pair it with other foods. Use a small spoon, fork, or butter knife to remove portions of honeycomb from the package and enjoy them.
Eat Comb Honey with Toast
Start by toasting a piece of your favorite bread. Real comb honey is quite a treat and a substantial slice of bread, a fresh bagel, or a sturdy English muffin will help you enjoy it to the fullest. While the bread is still piping hot, place a teaspoon of honeycomb honey on the bread and spread it around. The heat from the toast will soften the wax so that it’s easier to spread. Nibble away, and enjoy!
Top Cheese and Crackers
You can also enjoy a little bit of comb honey with cheese and crackers. Pick your favorite cheese and a few delicious multi-grain crackers. Slice the cheese, top the crackers, and then add a tiny dab of honeycomb to the top of the cheese. Have a little fruit on the side if you’d like to add another flavor element to this delightful treat.
Have Honeycomb in Salad
Tiny chunks of honeycomb make a lovely addition to a summery salad with slivered almonds, fresh greens, strawberries, and perhaps a little bit of your favorite goat cheese.
Garnish a Dessert
Make strawberry shortcake or angelfood cake, top it with freshly whipped cream, and garnish the cream with a little piece of honeycomb. Your guests will be even more impressed if you add a sprig of fresh lavender to each dessert plate!
These are just a few ways to eat comb honey. People add it to oatmeal, use it to top pancakes, and even add it to savory sandwiches. Be creative: You never know what you’ll come up with!