We give honey tastes and talk to thousands of people each year at the different farmer's markets and stores where we sell our honeys. We've answered these questions about Dee Lusby's Arizona Rangeland Honey and Kirk Webster's Vermont Honey almost that many times.

Q. Why are the honeys different colors?

A. Honey is basically concentrated plant nectars (with the addition of some enzymes and microbes by the bees). The color of the honey depends on the plant nectars that the bees collect at a particular time of season and geographic location.

Q. Which of these honeys are better?

A. They are all excellent! All of our honeys are from bees that are never treated with chemicals, fed with sugars, high fructose corn syrups or pollen substitutes or medicated with antibiotics. Because the bees forage on entirely different plant sources in Arizona and Vermont, the flavors and textures are unique from each other. People also have unique responses to the different honeys. While you may have a favorite, all of our honeys offer the highest quality honey experience. You have to taste these honeys to appreciate how special they are.

Q. Why don't these honeys taste like the honey I have at home?

A. Most honey is heated and filtered and is from bees that are chemically treated and fed with sugars and syrups. Our raw honeys are unheated and unfiltered from untreated bees that are not artificially fed but allowed to consume the honey that they make. This ensures that what you are getting with our honeys is pure, concentrated plant nectars, unadulterated by any additives, BEFORE OR AFTER the honey is extracted. Many of our customers do a side by side taste test with our honeys and the commercial honeys they have at home and end up tossing the commercial honey. We welcome you to do your own taste test!

Q. Do bees eat honey?

A. Yes. Honey is made and stored by the bees as their carbohydrate source. They consume the honey for the energy they need to use their wings and flight muscles for flying, heating and cooling the hive and evaporating nectar. Honeybees are the only bees that overwinter and make excess food to survive between seasons. Our beekeepers are careful to leave plenty of honey with the bees for their needs and only take the excess.

Q. Why aren't these honeys clear?

A. All our honeys have a natural crystal. Honey is a supersaturated solution. It is supposed to crystallize. Heating and filtering prolong the time that honey remains clear but heating and filtering kill the live enzymes and remove the pollen particles in honey, destroying the nutritional content and subtle flavors. We do not heat or filter our honey and it crystallizes very quickly. These are not the hard, sharp crystals of processed honey. If you have never had raw, crystallized honey you are in for a treat!

Q. Don't crystals mean that the honey has gone bad?

A. No. Honey is the only food that never spoils. Crystallized honey will dissolve by submerging the honey jar in a hot water bath.

Q. The half pound Muth jar with cork has such a narrow neck. How do I get the honey out?

A. We find that a chopstick or narrow table knife works quite well. Insert the chopstick or knife into the jar and lift up. You can control the amount of honey that you remove by how deeply you insert the chopstick or knife.

Q. How do I remove the last bits of honey from the jar?

A. A narrow spatula works perfectly for the half pound, one and two pound classic jars. A large, long handled spatula is best for the half gallon Ball jar. You should be able to scrape out every bit of honey. You have a couple of options for the half pound Muth jar. We fill the jar about 1/3 of the way with rice vinegar, cork and shake to dissolve the honey. Add good olive oil, some sea salt and pepper, a bit of mustard or whatever else you like in a salad dressing and shake again. The mustard will help bind the oil and vinegar and you have a delicious dressing for any salad. The other option is to dissolve the honey with some warm water and use the honey syrup in tea or add to anything you may be cooking. Be sure to use the syrup quickly as it will begin to ferment in a day or two.

Q. How can I get the honey to pour?

A. Submerge the jar (to just below the cap or cork) in a vessel of hot water. Hot tap water will usually do. Wait for the honey to liquify. If necessary, replace the hot water. Do not let the Arizona honey get over 100 degrees F. or the Vermont honey over 90 degrees F. You can also liquify smaller amounts by scooping a desired amount of honey into a ceramic cup or glass and submerge in a hot water bath.

Resist the temptation to microwave the honey. Microwaves can create hot spots and ruin your honey.

Q. Why is it so important to not overheat the honey?

A. Raw honey has live enzymes that are destroyed by heat. Too much heat also destroys the subtle flavors in honey and can change the composition of the natural sugars, producing a bitter aftertaste. Our honeys are the best that money can buy. Treat them with the patience they deserve!

Q. Does honey need to be refrigerated?

A. Only if the temperature in your home exceeds 90 degrees F. The bees prepare the nectar so that honey can be stored indefinitely at normal room temperatures.

Q. How should I keep the honey?

A. These honeys are so delicious that you may have to hide them to keep them from disappearing. We have customers who lock their honey in file cabinets and leave an inferior decoy honey in the pantry. Whether you have to hide it or can leave it in sight, any place out of direct sunlight is fine. In hot weather, keep the honey below 90 degrees F. Raw honey is not harmed by freezing. Keep the honey capped or corked when not in use.

Q. What temperature should I keep the honey?

A. Our raw honeys change texture and release different subtle flavors at different temperatures. Experiment and see what you like. Anything up to 90 degrees F. is fine for the Arizona honey and 85 degrees F. for the Vermont honey.

Q. Why is the Arizona honey "crunchy"?

A. The "crunchy" texture is due to the low water content and the specific plant sugars in the desert honey. Cooling the honey will increase the crystal "crunch" while warming it will decrease it. Either way, the honey is incredibly delicious!

Q. Is the Vermont honey "creamed" honey?

A. No. Commercially creamed honey is heated, filtered honey that is seeded with particular crystals to create a creamy texture. The creamy texture of our Vermont honey forms naturally in the unheated, unfiltered honey. You have to taste it to believe how yummy it is.

Q. What do people use raw honey for?

A. Everything! Our raw honeys are delicious as spreads and as ingredients in many foods and beverages (see Recipes and Serving Suggestions). They make great facial masks and cleansers at full strength and fantastic hair rinses when diluted (about ½ teaspoon per quart of warm water). Honey is used topically to treat resistant bacterial skin infections and diabetic skin ulcers. Many people take a spoonful of raw honey each day for good health or just to enjoy the honey in its pure form. Honey has been recognized to be just as effective as cough syrups, minus the high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners found in most commercial cough syrups (yuck!).

Q. What is your favorite way to use the honey?

A. While we use these amazing honeys with almost everything, we never get tired of eating them right from the spoon. Let us know YOUR favorite ways of enjoying them!

Q. When will you have local (Massachusetts) honey?

A. Before we can have truly local honey, we need local bees that are sustainable and productive. Our focus is breeding treatment free, localized honeybee survivor stock which we hope to have available soon for other local beekeepers. Meanwhile, we leave the honey with our bees so that they have the best chance of producing strong, survivor colonies. Occasionally we have a small amount of our honey available which we sell at local farmer's markets.