Honey

Definition: Honey is the substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants are gathered, modified and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees (National Honey Board, 2003). The definition of honey stipulates a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance. This includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners.

Most of us know honey as a sweet, golden liquid. However, honey can be found in a variety of forms.

  • Comb Honey – Comb honey is honey in its original form; that is, honey inside of the honeycomb.  The beeswax comb is edible!
  • Cut Comb – Cut comb honey is liquid honey that has added chunks of the honey comb in the jar. This is also known as a liquid-cut comb combination.
  • Liquid Honey – Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it’s especially convenient for cooking and baking. Most of the honey produced in the United States is sold in the liquid form.
  • Naturally Crystallized Honey – Naturally crystallized honey is honey in which part of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized.  It is safe to eat.
  • Whipped (or Creamed) Honey – While all honey will crystallize in time, whipped honey (also known as creamed honey) is brought to market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter or jelly. In many countries around the world, whipped honey is preferred to the liquid form especially at breakfast time
  • Honey products: do not meet the compositional criteria for pure honey, but are products consisting in whole or in part of honey, such as dried honey, flavor fruited honey, and infused honey.

Food Safety: Since honey is a potential and avoidable source of Clostridium botulinum spores, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Honey Board (NHB) recommend that honey not be given to infants younger than 12 months of age.  The more developed digestive system of older children and adults generally destroys the spores.  Infant botulism is a rare disease (fewer than 100 reported cases per year in the U.S.) which can lead to varying degrees of paralysis.

Honey produced from the flowers of oleanders, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, sheep laurel, and azaleas may cause honey intoxication. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, low blood pressure, shock, heart rhythm irregularities, and convulsions may occur, with rare cases resulting in death. Honey intoxication is more likely when using “natural” unprocessed honey and honey from farmers who may have a small number of hives. Commercial processing, with pooling of honey from numerous sources, generally dilutes any toxins.

Reporting and Assessment Fees to the National Honey Board: Each first handler shall pay an assessment to the Board at the rate of $0.01 per pound of domestically produced honey or honey products the first handler handles.  A producer shall pay the Board the assessment on all honey or honey products for which the producer is the first handler.

  • Exemption from paying assessments to the National Honey Board: A first handler who handles less than 250,000 pounds of honey or honey products per calendar year or an importer who imports less than 250,000 pounds of honey or honey products per calendar year is exempt from paying assessments.
  • Reporting instructions

USDA Grading Standards: Voluntary U.S. grade standards are issued under the authority of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, which provides for the development of official U.S. grades to designate different levels of quality. These grade standards are available for use by producers, suppliers, buyers and consumers. As in the case of other standards for grades of processed fruits and vegetables, these standards are designed to facilitate orderly marketing by providing a convenient basis for buying and selling, for establishing quality control programs, and for determining loan values (United States Department of Agriculture, 1985).

Distribution Method (Expand All | Collapse All)

You are selling your product at a farmers’ market, CSA, roadside stand, or other direct to consumer outlet


Licensing: If you are selling raw, unprocessed honey comb you have produced, no specific licensing requirements. Unprocessed honey comb is considered a raw agricultural product and is exempt from licensing requirements of the Colorado Retail Food Protection Act. Samples may be offered to consumers by vendors that are not licensed as retail food establishments and, therefore, those vendors are not required to comply with the provisions of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations. If a vendor is selling only unprocessed honey comb, the vendor is exempt from retail food establishment licensure even if offering samples.

If you are selling honey that you have produced, you will need a Retail Food Establishment License, issued by your county health department.  Since honey is considered a processed product, you must also register with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as a wholesale food manufacturing facility. Once you have registered your food manufacturing business, you may be inspected by CDPHE. You may also need additional licensing and your processing facility may require inspection from your county health department. If you sell at farmers’ markets or other direct to consumer outlets in different counties, you should check with the health department in each county where you sell your product direct to consumers.

If you are selling honey, processed or unprocessed, that you have purchased directly from a Colorado grower or from a wholesaler, you will need a Farm Product Dealers License.

Labeling: All honey products must be labeled, follow the general labeling requirements. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is required for packed honey bearing any official USDA mark or statement USDA Grading Standards.

Sales Tax Liability: General sales tax information.

Weights and Measures: If you are selling your product by weight, you must follow the Colorado weights and measures requirements. If you are selling honey by some other measure, there are no regulations in this category.

You are selling your product to a store, restaurant, food cart, K-12 school, university, hospital, or other retail food establishment


Licensing: To sell honey that you have processed using honeycomb you have produced, you must first register with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) as a wholesale food manufacturing facility. Once you have registered your food manufacturing business, you may be inspected by CDPHE.

If you are selling honey using honeycomb purchased from another Colorado producer or from a wholesaler, you will also need a Farm Product Dealers License.

Labeling: All honey products must be labeled, follow the general labeling requirements. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is required for packed honey bearing any official USDA mark or statement USDA Grading Standards.

Sales Tax Liability: General sales tax information.

Weights and Measures: If you are selling your product by weight, you must follow the Colorado weights and measures requirements. If you are selling honey by some other measure, there are no regulations in this category.

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