Why Is Honey So Expensive [Types & Alternatives]

“If everything is honey, and I am what I eat, I must be made of honey…and life is very sweet.” Winnie the Pooh is the connoisseur of honey and always has an appreciation for this sticky substance.

What he may not have eluded to is the fact that there are over 300 kinds of this syrupy condiment. However, despite the large variety, it still comes with a hefty price tag. Why is honey so expensive? Our buzzing friends are part of the answer.

The first reason that honey is expensive is that the creators of this delicious liquid, the bees, are starting to disappear. Without as many workers to make the honey, it takes longer to produce, driving up the price.

Moreover, the medical benefits and the cost of harvesting the honey also increases costs. Lastly, the bee’s diminishing sources of pollen, their decreasing natural habitats, and the weather all cause honey prices to become more expensive.

This is because the bees have to travel farther distances to reach the nectar, and therefore the production time takes longer.

Types Of Honey

The specific color, flavor, texture, and aroma that accompanies each type of raw honey is highly dependent on the floral source used to create it.

Thus, depending on the pollen types in the region, your honey can be mild, tangy, spicy, fruity, woodsy or nutty, to name a few.

These attributes also lead individuals to pick specific types of honey for their intended use. Some are better for marinades, others for baking, and some just work as the ideal accent to herbal tea.

Moreover, unlike the pasteurized, store-bought varieties, natural honey has properties that can help fight illness and allergies. Here are some of the most popular types of raw honey in the United States and what they bring to the table.

Popular Honey Types

(United States)

Wholesale Cost Per Bottle

(16 Ounces)

Orange Blossom Honey

$2.13

Clover Honey

$2.25
Eucalyptus Honey

$2.35

Buckwheat Honey

$2.80

Acacia Honey

$12

Clover Honey

This is the most popular type on honey in the nation and it is brimming with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and flavonoids. These components are fantastic for heart health, both lowering LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Due to the extensive number of clover types, the coloring can range from golden to white. This factors into the price — $1.65 to $2.25 per pound.

Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Clover Honey, 16 Ounce

Buckwheat Honey

Buckwheat honey comes in a dark rich hue and has antibacterial properties. It is also much thicker than other varieties, taking on a molasses texture.

Mostly made in the northern states, it is the ideal choice for sore throat and wound care. Priced at a more expensive $2.80 per pound, this is another higher-end honey.

Gunter's Pure Buckwheat Honey, 16 Oz

Acacia Honey

Acacia honey is a diabetics dream! Low in glucose and high in fructose, this natural sweetener does not have a big impact on their blood sugar levels. This also means that it takes longer to crystalize, making it a longer-lasting product.

Moreover, it has the stereotypical flavor and coloring that you expect from honey. Otherwise known as Locust Honey, it is sweet, fruity, and light. However, this variety does not come around every year. Therefore, it can run a much higher price tag of up to $12 per pound.

Thankfully, as mentioned above, it lasts longer than most other honey types.

Breitsamer, Acacia Raw Honey, 17.6 oz

Eucalyptus Honey

Eucalyptus honey is perfect for tea and those with scratchy throat. The flavor has a hint of menthol, giving off a medicinal aftertaste. Due to this quality, it helps to fight inflammation, making it optimal for those suffering from a cold or the flu.

While mostly imported for around $1.74 per pound, there are beekeepers in California that source this honey as well. However, due to the extensive drought in that region, prices range from $2.25 to $2.35 per pound.

Australian Eucalyptus Raw Honey 16 Oz.| 1 LB Pure 453g 100% Natural Grade A Gift Wrapped

Orange Blossom Honey

Orange Blossom Honey contains citrusy flavor notes. It is also said to boost the immune system and help to treat chronic illnesses. The honey is imported from Mexico and made in the warm weather states of Texas, California and Florida. It costs around $2.13 per pound.

Raw Honey - Pure All Natural Unfiltered & Unpasteurized - McCoy's Honey Florida Orange Blossom Honey 6lb

The Pricing Of Honey

Honey is revered for its exceptional health benefits. However, processing and pasteurization strips it of these qualities.

Thus, that adorable bear bottle of honey that you find at your local grocery or convenience store will run you less than $3.50 for 12 ounces. However, this refined product has no health benefits.

Raw Honey Costs

Conversely, the price tag for real, raw or liquid honey can range from approximately $0.28 per ounce ($3.36 for a 12 ounce bottle) all the way up to $342 per ounce ($4,104 for the same amount).

Obviously, the second price tag is an exorbitant amount. Centauri Honey was labeled as the most expensive honey in the world by the Guiness Book of World Records in 2021.

“This cave honey is excavated (as the name suggests) from a cave 2,500 meters above sea level, far away from any human residences and from any other bee colonies.”

Elvish honey is another cave honey that is slightly more affordable at $194 per ounce. These are obviously out of most of our price ranges, but expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $300 per jar for the more affordable options.

These prices will depend on the type, coloring and origin of the product. It is important to note that the cost per pound for each type of honey types listed above is the cost beekeepers charge for companies to buy it wholesale in bulk.

This is not the amount that you will pay for this product at the store. Why? The price tag does not factor in the cost of the containers, packaging, storage, safety testing, advertising and stocking fees.

Reasons For The Expensive Price Tag On Honey

Climate Patterns

As of 2020, “the last five years were the hottest ever recorded in the 139 years that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tracked global heat. […]

The insects can simply overheat, as lab experiments have shown, but there may also be indirect impacts on vegetation and flowers that could lead to the bees starving.” This is due to the fact that seven of the ten top honey producing states in the nation are under exceptional drought. This is the highest drought category that exists.

It is defined as “an area experiencing exceptional and widespread crop and pasture losses, fire risk, and water shortages that result in water emergencies.” This equates to less pollen-producing plants and therefore less production of honey. This ties directly into the concept of supply and demand.

Due to the lower production levels of this sticky substance, beekeepers are not earning their keep. Thus, they have to charge more to handle the cost of overhead. Furthermore, the market for honey will always be present. Therefore, manufacturers will charge a more expensive cost in order to make an ample profit on their honey.

Inclement Weather

Weather is a driver for so many aspects of our lives. The atmospheric conditions across the globe may not seem like anything of concern for your daily life, but they play a large part in the creation and cost of your honey.

In case you did not know, the climate is the average weather for a region over an extended period of time (think decades, not years). Conversely, the weather is the atmospheric changes that occur during the short term. Unfortunately, the bees have to contend with both.

While a random hail storm, hurricane or early freeze may not matter to individuals who live in alternate regions, these weather events play a monumental role in the status of the vegetation that bees feed on.

This, in turn, impacts honey production and therefore the cost of the product. Furthermore, location plays a big factor in the cost. The more tools required to get to the honey, the more expensive the price tag will be for consumers.

Tupelo honey is another expensive variety that is harvested once yearly. Created in the swamplands of the South, it requires extensive labor to reach, if the weather hasn’t destroyed the hives.

Bees Are Becoming An Endangered Species

The loss of habitat and sustenance due to drought, extermination, and land development, along with the use of pesticides and “the release of non-native bees for commercial pollination” all play a role in the prevalence of this essential insect.

According to National Geographic, “New research using a massive dataset found that the insects are far less common than they used to be; in North America, you are nearly 50 percent less likely to see a bumblebee in any given area than you were prior to 1974.”

Presently, activists are petitioning to make the American Bumblebee an endangered species. “Once among the nation’s most commonly observed bumblebees from coast to coast, the bee has declined by an estimated 89% in just the past 20 years.”

This is a terrifying statistic because these pollinators are responsible for the success of our nation’s food crops. When you consider that they are a fundamental component to the growth of one third of the world’s vegetation based food sources, this astonishing drop in their population is a very concerning piece of information. It also drives up honey prices.

Honey Production

Bees fly thousands of miles to collect nectar that they bring back to their hive to create honey. One hive can create as much as 200 pounds of honey in a year. It can also make as little as 10 pounds.

Moreover, it takes an average of three to four weeks, but up to two months, to create the wax combs to form a hive and start honey production.

Therefore, the time and effort required to make this golden liquid is extensive. This comes at a cost. For those apiarists or beekeepers who have a steady flow of product, they can charge less. However, for hives producing less comb honey, those folks have to make up the expensive cost of production.

Additionally, certain honeys are made with rare and seldom blooming flowers. For example, the Manuka flower only stays open for extremely short periods of time (12 days out of the year). This leads to a small crop and therefore the very expensive cost of Manuka honey.

Health Benefits

Another key factor in cost is the benefits that the honey will provide the consumer. While most raw honeys have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, varieties like Sidr, otherwise known as Yemeni honey, seem to be nothing short of a miracle elixir.

Research shows that “Sidr honey is widely used as a medication to treat liver diseases, ulcers of the stomach, lung infections, malnutrition consequences, digestion problems, constipation, infections of eyes, infections following burns, wounds and surgery, and general health and vitality.”

These amazing qualities directly drive up the price to around $29 per ounce. Comparatively, Anzer honey is another Turkish variety that claims to have true benefits for the liver, and tonsils as well as reducing fatigue.

While not quite as magical as the Sidr honey, it is still much more expensive than other types. It costs between $8.50 to $14 per ounce.

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Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a sweetener, honey is the best route to go. While it is more expensive than sugar, the health benefits make it worth the price.

However, these numbers can range tremendously. Make sure to do your research before purchasing this tasty treat. You will want to consider your intent of use as well as what health benefits you desire when making your selection.

Lastly, in order to conserve your sweet investment, make sure to store the honey at room temperature. This can be anywhere between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to never refrigerate it. Moreover, keep it in a dark space to extend its shelf life.

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