Have you ever wondered why honey is so expensive?
There are quite a few reasons that it is.
Some reasons you may already know, while others you might not be aware of.
The cost of honey is dependent on a few different factors.
Let’s take a closer look at all the reasons you pay more for honey than you might expect to.
Why Is Honey So Expensive? (Top 12 Reasons)
Here are the top 13 reasons honey is so expensive.
1. Several Types Of Honey Exist, Each With Its Own Price Point
Several types of honey are priced differently for various reasons.
Some are harder to acquire than others, and some take longer to produce than others.
The price is also somewhat related to where the honey originated.
For example, in 2017 the price of honey in the U.S. was much higher than in Canada.
The price of organic raw honey is always more expensive than the alternative.
This is because the process of harvesting organic honey takes so long.
It should also be noted that the price of honey can vary depending on what color it is.
For example, in 2019, white honey sold for $1.67 per pound.
In comparison, honey that is an extra light shade of amber sold for $1.85 per pound.
Both light and dark amber honey were sold for $2.54 per pound.
2. Demand Always Outweighs Supply
Over the years, Americans have taken to eating more and more honey.
In fact, no other country in the world consumes more of it.
As a result, the supply of honey in the U.S. is not nearly enough to fill the demand for it, and this drives up its price.
For a brief period in 2018, the cost of honey dropped, but it has since risen again.
Even so, beekeepers are not earning a large paycheck from the sales of honey.
When weather conditions are harsh on bees, the production of honey drops.
This is because excessive cold weather can easily cut the number of bees in a colony in half.
Since 2000, the price of honey has been increasing because the production of it has been decreasing.
A decrease in the number of bees yielded in each colony has made honey harder to come by.
The reason for this is that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has had a negative effect with lasting results.
CCD leads to the disappearance of worker honeybees.
Too many of them disappear and essentially render the colony dead.
In fact, from 1947 to 2008, the honeybee population of the United States shrunk from 5.9 million to only 2.3 million.
After that, they dropped off 15% every winter, with 28% of bees lost by the end of 2008.
Between 2006 and 2015, the price of honey increased by 80%.
At the same time, beekeepers were losing as many as 90% of the hives they kept.
Overall, there was a 35% loss of bees in 2019.
However, this problem was nothing new.
It stems back to the 1980s, at which time parasitic mites found their way into the U.S.
Though they had done their damage to countless bees, scientists theorized that the bees had already had their immune systems weakened by insecticides.
3. People Demand Natural Sweeteners
In a world where everyone is becoming more health conscious, a growing number of people are demanding sweeteners that are more natural than sugar.
This is another reason the price of honey has soared.
By May 2019, honey was being sold in the U.S. at $7.66 for one pound.
In comparison, honey prices had been 9% cheaper in May 2018.
Between 2013 and 2019, honey prices rose by 25%.
As of January 2021, the National Honey Board Consumer Attitudes & Usage Study determined that Americans chose honey as their number one preferred sweetener.
It beat out raw, white, and brown sugars and maple syrup.
Consumers rated honey their top choice due to the fact that it is a natural, non-processed sweetener with a high number of antioxidants.
This resulted in the average consumption rate of honey per person rising from 1.79 to 1.83 pounds.
4. Honey Is Difficult To Produce
Honey is expensive because bees expend a significant amount of energy to produce the wax comb that makes the honey.
It’s been estimated that one bee needs to ingest between six and eight pounds of honey just to produce one pound of beeswax.
Another reason is that a wax comb only helps produce one unit of honey.
Since there is a separate harvest needed for each wax comb, it results in comb honey being more expensive than most others.
The production of comb honey creates waste that also makes the product more expensive.
Many combs will end up being damaged or imperfect, thus increasing the cost of production.
Last but not least, expensive equipment is needed to produce comb honey as opposed to other types of it.
This includes plastic or basswood boxes and Styrofoam trays.
In addition to the equipment being expensive, the marketing and sorting processes are also more expensive for this type of honey.
The reason for this is that comb honey is fragile and must be handled very carefully in order to prevent damaging it.
Another consideration is that many high-end restaurants entice diners with promises of pure honey being used in their dishes.
This has driven up the value of comb honey.
For example, it is not uncommon for a farmer’s market merchant to charge $1 for a one-ounce container of it.
To put it another way, food catalogs that sell this honey typically price it at $24.95 for a 12-ounce container.
5. U.S. Department Of Agriculture Dictated It
In 2014, a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggested that those in the honey industry should have to pay higher fees.
The proposal was to spend the next two years raising the fees at a rate of 50%.
The Agriculture Marketing Services of the USDA were already charging importers and packers of honey small fees.
The fees were meant to cover the cost of honey promotion and research.
In 2015, that fee was one cent for each pound of honey with plans to raise it for the next year.
It was predicted that this would cost the honey industry an extra $6.8 million yearly.
6. Bees And Flowers Are Dying Due To Pollution And Lack Of Water
A rise in the number of bees and flowers dying after bouts of little to no rain has driven up honey prices.
In 2019, the national production of honey decreased by 30%, causing the price of honey to become 10% higher.
One reason for this was that it was a bad year for crops to grow.
In addition to the lack of rain, extreme heat and even brush fires were to blame for the lack of healthy crops at the end of the year.
Eucalyptus trees are responsible for much of the world’s honey production.
With a lack of water to hydrate the trees, their flowering patterns are severely altered.
This alteration was all it took to greatly cut down on the amount of honey produced.
Not every tree was able to produce the flowers needed to get the nectar.
Even trees that were able to produce flowers produced fewer of them.
After several years of low production rates, honey became more difficult to come by.
In a desperate attempt to keep their bees alive, many beekeepers took to feeding them a sugary solution, a process that takes a significant amount of time and money.
Air pollution has also negatively affected the diets of many bees.
By covering up floral scents, it makes it harder for bees to find enough food to eat.
As a result, they spend more time looking for food and often travel much further than they would have otherwise.
This puts them at risk for exhaustion, slowing down their ability to pollinate.
7. Importing Honey Is Driving Up Prices
The importing and exporting of honey is also driving prices higher than ever.
Honey producers all over the world are fighting imports because they’re affecting their production numbers negatively.
In 2019, when production dropped drastically, imports were being sold to consumers.
Certain countries can no longer produce enough honey to keep up with the demand, causing them to import honey from other countries.
The U.S. honey market has suffered because foreign honey that is imported comes with a smaller price tag.
This is causing packers to spend their money on the imported honey instead.
As a result, commercial beekeepers began to stockpile honey.
Those who earn their living as full-time beekeepers may consider throwing in the towel due to the competition from imports.
This results in a lack of beehives to provide honey, causing the prices to rise accordingly.
8. Heavy Agriculture Negatively Affects Biodiversity
Heavy agriculture in certain parts of the world has been a problem for the honey industry.
Its negative effects on biodiversity include a lack of flowers and meadows for bees to feast on.
This means not as much honey is produced, so what is produced is sold at higher prices.
It isn’t only a reduction of flowers that has driven up prices, but it’s also contending with a bee population that is much smaller than it used to be.
Agricultural yields are negatively affected by this as well.
Plants thrive on the pollination that bees provide.
When bees pollinate crops, it results in three times more crops being grown than would have been otherwise.
Even though other pollinators can fill the same role as honeybees do, they are not as tolerant of extreme weather conditions.
In addition, it is always easy to transport honeybee hives to fields from orchards.
Aside from weather conditions, pesticides have also contributed to the decline in the production of honey.
New pesticide labels were implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
These new labels state that select pesticides must not be used in areas bees live in.
A few of the pesticides that can no longer be used around bees contain neonicotinoids.
Scientists suspect this is what is killing so many bees.
However, despite these labels, bees are still ingesting neonicotinoids.
Though it isn’t fatal to them, it can cause bees to become more vulnerable to certain illnesses.
9. COVID-19 Impacted Imports
The events of 2020 and 2021 have not been kind to the honey industry.
In fact, some countries didn’t receive enough packages of bees to keep up with the demand for honey.
When thousands fewer hives are delivered than what was expected, the amount of honey available immediately declines.
10. Honey Has Many Health Benefits, Increasing Its Value
The health benefits of honey include immunity boosts, improved digestion, its ability to fight sinus infections, its effectiveness in treating a cold or dry cough, as well as helping with weight loss.
When it comes to weight loss, drinking warm lemon water and honey every morning has proven to be quite effective.
The probiotics in honey also make it healthy.
Due to having many antioxidants, honey has proven effective in boosting the human immune system by keeping invasive organisms out of it.
Regular consumption of honey has been found to prevent many stomach-related medical conditions, including IBS, ulcers, and acidity.
More healthy benefits of honey include its ability to boost immunity, fight many skin conditions, and help people maintain a healthy gut.
Aside from these benefits, honey has also been found to heal skin infections and even acne. In women, it can even improve the health of their reproductive organs.
11. Beekeepers Have To Protect Their Bees
The job of protecting bees from bears is an expensive undertaking for many beekeepers.
Over a span of five years, more than 600 beehives were damaged by black bears.
This resulted in beekeepers losing close to $150,000 collectively.
In order for them to make that money back, the cost of honey has to rise once again.
12. The Bee Industry Has Been Hit Hard
The loss of 10 million hives worldwide between 2015 and 2021 cost the bee industry $2 billion.
In comparison, the industry sees only $500,000 per year in revenue.
This led to the tripling of pollination fees for beekeepers throughout California.
In order to make up for the loss, beekeepers started breeding half of their hives in the summer and half in the spring.
How Can You Save Money On Honey?
One of the best ways to save money on honey is to follow a few tried and true tips to help it last longer.
You can start by making sure you store your honey at the ideal temperature.
It should be a place that is the same temperature all the time.
Keeping honey in a place where the temperature could be drastically different from one day to the next results in the honey losing some of its natural flavor.
Ideally, the place where you store honey should always be between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If this is not possible, honey will also last at room temperature.
If you can’t store it at the ideal temperature, all you have to do is make sure that it’s exposed to cool air as opposed to warmer air.
The containers you keep honey in will also help dictate how long it lasts.
While you can always keep it in the original container, you don’t have to.
The ideal container to store honey in for an extended period of time is one that is airtight.
It should also be in a sturdy container that light can’t seep into.
Most people use dark glass jars to store their honey until they are ready to use it.
Plastic jars are sufficient if you plan to use the honey up quickly.
Otherwise, it is often safer to use glass jars instead.
If you need to store your honey above your stove, it is best to make sure there is a layer of insulation between the honey and the stove.
When you want to stockpile your honey, experts recommend you purchase it from a supplier in your area.
This will almost always be better quality honey than what you would get at a typical grocery store.
Many consumers don’t realize that imported honey is more likely to have additives in it.
By purchasing yours locally, you are getting the best possible honey and supporting the population of bees in your area.