FAQ

Our know-how and passion have been passed down through 4 generations.
We endeavor to produce unique, typical and precious honeys, while respecting bees and nature.
To offer you the best products, we work in close cooperation with over 700 French beekeepers and over 5000 beekeepers in the world, relying on a true partnership initiated almost a century ago. Such a partnership allows us to add value and to contribute, day after day, to the development of beekeeping and local agriculture.

Our passion for bees and honey, selling French quality honeys, preserving bees, supporting beekeepers and meeting your requirements are at the heart of our values and commitments.

Is it genuine honey?

All the honeys we sell are 100% pure and natural for they are the untouched fruits of bees’ work. Honey is an entirely pure and natural product, produced by forager bees using the nectar of plants. The law prohibits calling ‘honey’ anything else than honey collected by bees. According to French decree n°2003-587 of 30.06.2003, ‘honey is the natural sweet substance produced by ‘Apis mellifera’ bees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant-sucking insects, which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature’. That means that honey only contains nectar transformed by bees – nothing is added, nothing is removed

At Famille Michaud Apiculteurs, we commit to guarantee (via our Laboratory and Quality Department) that all our honeys comply with European Directives and French laws regarding this exceptional product. Our rigor, our skills and experience allowed us to have our food safety initiative certified. Furthermore, all our honeys are strictly controlled upstream, downstream and at each step of the process. Day after day, we endeavor to make honey an entirely preserved product. Each honey we sell has been strictly controlled and is fully traceable. Our company set up highly sophisticated control means that apply to all the honeys we select and sell. We are the only company in Europe that was awarded the ISO 17025 (COFRAC) standard certification – meaning the expertise of our lab is internationally acknowledged. 12 people currently work at our lab, which is by far the biggest honey-analyzing lab in France.

 

What is the best honey?

The taste of honey directly depends on the flower foraged by the bee. Just like wine, there is an incredible and huge variety of flavors and colors in honey, depending on its origin. There is a honey suitable for each and every taste and use, as all the flavors of nature are found among the great palette of honeys. For example, chestnut honey and its woody and slightly sweet taste will be perfect with goat’s cheese. Acacia honey, which is mild and mellow, will naturally and softly sweeten a fruit salad. Price is not a quality criterion, but it reflects the scarcity of the product, as well as potential production difficulties. We wish you to come and discover all this spectrum of tastes, and thus offer a wide range of honeys in order to satisfy each palate: flower honeys, monofloral honeys, regional honeys, French honeys or local harvests! You will definitely find the honey that suits you!

 

How much difference in quality is there between two honeys?

All the honeys we sell are top quality and always 100% pure and natural products. Their taste depends on the foraged flower(s). Monofloral honeys (acacia, orange blossom, clover, etc. are more expensive because they are scarcer than polyfloral honeys (multi-flower…). The color of the product once in the jar is this of honey. Nothing can be added or removed to honey.

Why are there liquid, crystallized or creamy honeys? Do you add something to honey?

There are three types of honeys:
– Liquid honey
– Raw or hard crystallized honey
– Creamy crystallized honey

The fructose and glucose content in honey depends on the origin of the foraged plant. Nectar contains a lot of saccharose that bees transform by enzymatic means into 2 much simpler sugars: glucose and fructose.

The amount of fructose and glucose varies according to the nectaries that carry the nectar. The richer in fructose, the more liquid honey will remain. The richer in glucose, the more it will crystallize. It is a natural phenomenon. Depending on the flower foraged, honey will crystallize more or less quickly. Certain honeys crystallize as soon as they are removed from the hive, others will always stay liquid, such as acacia honey.

Should you allow this transformation to occur naturally, honeys will often become harder and grainy. A honey that crystallizes without control becomes solid and hard to use.

A honey in the process of crystallization generally contains coarse crystals that are unpleasant in the mouth. All these states are considered as quality defects because honey is much better when creamy.

In order to give its crystallized honeys a creamy texture, Famille Michaud Apiculteurs uses a natural but complex technique that fully respects the quality of honey and allows it to master and guide the crystallization process. First we select honeys for their capacity to create very thin crystals, and then we cold-mix them to break the crystal strips that form, without altering honey. We are thus able to offer ‘creamy’ honeys with a very soft and pleasant texture reminiscent of a spread.

We guarantee this texture in time as long as honey is stored under 26°C (80°F), which would cause honey to re-liquefy and form coarse crystals again. Of course this process takes place without adding anything to honey, which remains 100% natural.

You may choose a creamy or liquid honey according to your taste and use. Creamy honey is great to spread on toasts, whereas liquid honey is easier to use when cooking or sweetening your food.

 

Why are there tree honeys whereas those trees have no flowers? Do bees forage tree sap?

There are 2 types of honey: nectar honey, coming from the flowers foraged by bees, and honeydew honey. Honeydew is a sweet substance produced by the aphids that bees sometimes collect on trees (ex: fir honey).

 

How long will honey keep?

The date mentioned on jars is an indicator of freshness: honey may keep for years without becoming unfit for consumption but, it may lose part of its flavor and tasting properties.

At Famille Michaud Apiculteurs, we supply various packaging solutions (glass jars, squeezer jars, and Doypack bags, cardboard jars) to preserve honey’s natural properties and allow you to fully enjoy its quality, whether you make a traditional or practical use of honey!

 

Why does my herbal tea change color when adding honey?

Honey contains microscopic humus particles in varying quantities that the wind carries and blows onto the nectar of flowers. These particles entail a more or less significant coloring reaction when in contact with the tannins of the plants contained in certain herbal teas. This reaction is absolutely harmless and is totally natural.

 

Do you import honey?

Our ambition is to support the production of honey in France, and put 100% of our honeys into jars in France, at our Gan factory located at the foot of the Pyrenees, while selling these honeys to the greatest number of countries.
We promote French honeys, but their production has strongly decreased over the past 20 years (from 32.000 tons in 1995 to fewer than 10.000 in 2014). This significant decline is caused by various factors such as a heavy use of pesticides in France, a decrease in bee food sources, contamination, the emergence of the Asian hornet, poor weather conditions…

Should certain types of honeys not be produced in France, we shall turn to honeys collected in protected and preserved areas in order to always find the best origins for each floral appellation.

Apart from France, Spain is among our favorite seeking areas as it is close to France and because of its exceptional natural environment. At the crossroads of continents, of seas and climates, Spanish nature is a true paradise with mountains running through it. The geographical situation and complex terrain of Spain have created a great variety of climate conditions, landscapes and ecosystems. Second country in the world with the highest number of Biosphere reserves listed by the UNESCO, Spain bursts with lakes, mountains, volcanoes, swamps, forests, valleys, ravines… The richness and diversity of its landscapes are amazing. The will to protect this environment, dating back almost a century (the first national park was created in 1918), lead to the preservation of vast natural areas, while cities are mainly located along the coast and around Madrid.

Hence the greater part of Spain is a vast and protected land, suitable for apiculture.

We import certain honey types because they are not produced in sufficient quantity or quality in France (orange blossom or lemon tree honey from Spain, eucalyptus honey from Portugal, melilotus/sweet clover honey from Argentina, acacia honey from Hungary…). For instance, the cradle of acacia honey production is located in Hungary. This tree was brought from North America to Europe in 1601 by J. Robin. It spread very quickly in Hungary, and today 20% of Hungarian forest is made of acacia – this is the highest concentration in Europe (400.000 hectares in Hungary and 140.000 in France). When selecting acacia honey from Hungary, we obtain particularly pure honey because bees can bring high quantities of nectar back to the hive.

The quality and naturalness of our honeys are our main commitments at Famille Michaud Apiculteurs. Since 1973, all our honeys are rigorously analyzed by our laboratory. Over 92.000 analyses are performed every year, guaranteeing the traceability of all our products and conveying our will to always offer honeys of an irreproachable quality.

 

Why does my liquid honey have crystals? Is it still fit for consumption?

Depending on the flower foraged, honey will crystallize more or less quickly, especially if its storing temperature is less than 14°C (57°F). On the contrary, crystallized honey tends to re-liquefy when stored above 27°C (80°F). The main natural components of honey are glucose and fructose. Honeys with high glucose content will crystallize sooner than honeys with high fructose content. Hence liquid honey with crystals will remain fit for consumption and will not lose its properties. If you want it to be entirely liquid, place your jar close to a heat source such as an oven or a radiator, or leave for a few minutes in a warm water bath. Caution: heating honey too much or for too long makes it lose its properties and taste.

 

Does honey contains fewer calories than sugar?

Yes, honey contains much fewer calories than sugar. On the one hand, it is mainly made of fructose and glucose (natural sugars) whereas sugar is made of saccharose. On the other, honey has a higher sweetening power than sugar, allowing you to use less honey in your tea, herbal tea or yoghurt.

 

I bought the same honey twice, but it does not taste the same, why is it?

Honey is a 100% pure and natural product. Thanks to our researching and selecting work, we endeavor to preserve a homogenous taste, but some harvests may be different from year to year depending on the weather conditions. This means that honey will have slightly different organoleptic properties (it may be sweeter or have a stronger taste). Honey is a product offered by nature and bees. Men cannot modify its taste.

Why are certain honeys sweeter than others?

There is a honey to suit every taste as in the whole range of honeys lie all the flavors of nature. Certain honeys are sweeter than others because the flowers foraged were not the same. Others will not be as sweet because their bitterness somewhat ‘conceals’ their sweetness.

There are 2 honey types: nectar honey coming from flowers and honeydew honey coming from the secretions on trees. Honeydew is a substance collected by bees when foraging trees (ex: fir honey).

 

Is it true that honey is a healthy product?

Honey is the oldest of sweetening products. Until the 15th century, it was the sole natural source of sugar. Without coloring or preservatives, honey is a source of:

– Mineral salts
– Vitamins
– Carbohydrates
– Antioxidants
– Trace elements

For thousands of years, honey has had the reputation to relieve sore throats. As a real ‘live sugar’, honey is also famous for improving bowel function, nervousness and tiredness. Thanks to its enzymes, minerals, vitamins and aromatic substances… According to the nature of foraged flowers, honey will have specific benefits. Every honey has its virtues…

 

Is honey directly purchased from the producer better?

Wherever you buy honey, it must always be 100% pure and natural and meet regulations.
Most of beekeepers who sell directly on markets or roadsides are very good producers who will passionately tell you about their work, will let you taste and discover their honey, and you will spend a great time with them. But we are also aware that certain producers spend more energy denigrating and criticizing honeys sold in supermarkets than speaking about the quality of their own honey. They speak of ‘competitors’ selling industrial and unnatural honey, which is not accurate because honeys sold in hyper and supermarkets must comply with regulations, and are the only ones regularly controlled by certified laboratories!
At Famille Michaud Apiculteurs, we control 100% of our honeys by analyzing them. Bees are free insects that fly within a 3 km radius around their hive and cannot be controlled. It is necessary to monitor honey in order to guarantee its end quality. We sometimes reject honeys for defects related to non-compliance with good beekeeping practices or because their floral appellation does not match this initially announced. Our analyzing techniques keep getting better and better in order to offer you an irreproachable honey quality. Honey is a preserved product and should remain so.

 

Does industrial honey exist?

Men cannot create honey, only bees can. Honey is always a 100% pure and natural product and must comply with the same regulatory requirements, whatever its use or selling channel. There is no such thing as ‘industrial honey’. Men only collect honey and put it into jars. However, ‘baker’s honey’ does exist, as defined by a European regulation (Directive 2001/110/EC of December 20, 2011). It also is 100% pure and natural honey, without any addition, but its taste properties may have been damaged because heated or stored for too long.

In this case, honey cannot be sold in jars to be consumed traditionally and sold as such in outlets. But it may be used in food or cosmetic products containing honey. It must hence be identified as ‘baker’s honey’ in the list of ingredients that is mandatory on the product label.

 

Is it true that honey helps healing wounds or burns?

Honey has been used for therapeutic purposes (especially healing) well before modern medicine. In the days of pharaohs its virtues were famous. These virtues appeared on a papyrus discovered by Edwin Smith, where honey was suggested in order to cure infections. Since then it has been used in traditional and popular medicines for its capacity to quickly and cleanly heal wounds. Honey’s high sugar content gives it antimicrobial properties. Its components and acid pH also prevent bacteria and other pathogen agents to develop. It has good anti-inflammatory qualities. Its high water concentration makes it easy to spread over the whole wound surface, allowing tissues to heal in an optimal way. The symbiosis taking place between honey and the tissues allows its water to get into the wound and slow down its dehydration. Honey also helps new cells to develop, hence contributing a fast healing process. It is increasingly recommended for its many virtues, and starts emerging in new forms of therapeutic products and bandages. Sometimes it is even prescribed in the medical field, by Professor Descottes of Limoges Hospital for instance, who has been leading research on honey for twenty years and recorded successful results.

How do bees make royal jelly and what is it used for in the hive?

Bees go through various cycles during their lifetime, carrying out very precise missions during these various steps. Between their 5th and 12th days of life, worker bees feed the young larvae in their wax alveoli. In order to do so, they secrete a unique and very rich substance: royal jelly.

All the larvae from the hive live on royal jelly during their first 3 days of life. Then only the royal larvae continue being fed exclusively on royal jelly. This particular diet allows them to become queens: royal jelly is almost a magic potion! It is so nutritional that the queen becomes much bigger than worker bees. Her resistance and life expectancy are also increased: on average a queen lives for 4 years as against 50 days for a worker bee. It is obvious that royal jelly plays a fundamental role in the development of the hive. This is why men can only collect a few dozen grams of this precious substance every year.

In order to make sure royal jelly and honey blend in a homogeneous way, we mix them softly and master the mixing temperature. Moreover, this unique process ensures a proper preservation. Our research and knowledge of beekeeping techniques allowed us to stabilize this association of honey and royal jelly.

 

What is propolis?

With its extraordinary properties famous for thousands of years, propolis is foraged by bees on tree buds that secrete this rare resinous substance to protect and support the growth of young shoots. It is a universal cure to combat all the troubles affecting the colony. The shoots of certain trees (poplar, elm, beech, chestnut tree…) produce a protective resin. Bees collect this substance and bring it back to the hive for various uses: it fills cracks and holes, seals the frames, alveolus or honeycombs, but mainly purifies and disinfects the hive. During the harvest season, you may on average collect 60 to 300 grams of propolis per hive without endangering the bees. Propolis contains surprisingly active substances, known since ancient times for their bactericidal, antifungal and healing virtues. The Egyptians saved it for Pharaohs to defend, purify, and regenerate the body, and also to mummify the bodies of their dead. As propolis has not revealed all its secrets yet, many more uses will surely be considered…

Our research and knowledge of beekeeping techniques allowed us to stabilize this association of honey and propolis. Propolis could not be blended with honey without its compounds coming up to the surface. By mastering honey crystallization, we are able to mix propolis extracts while preserving its soothing virtues.

 

What is pollen in pellets? Why do bees use it for in the hive?

Incredibly varied, pollen is collected by bees on flowers. Pollen grains are the main food and the only source of protein for bees. The richness of pollen is reflected in the diversity of its floral origins, shades and colors. It contains a lot of proteins and is highly energizing. It may be consumed fresh (if previously frozen) or dry (easier to keep). Pollen also plays another role: when a forager bee lands on a flower to gather its nectar located at the end of the corolla, it shakes the stamen that release microscopic pollen grains. Part of them fall into the nectar of the flower, ending up in honey. Analyzing these pollen grains contained in honey allows us to decipher honey, to read its ‘ID’. During pollen analysis, we look at a honey sample through a microscope: only 10 g of honey contain about 40.000 grains of pollen! Identifying the different types of pollen is expert work.

Our laboratory was the first in France to systematically control all its honeys and to analyze the pollens contained in honey. Our expertise in this field is internationally recognized. For 40 years, we have been certifying the excellence of our honeys while precisely identifying their botanical and floral origins.

 

Is the quality of ORGANIC honey better than this of NON-ORGANIC honey? Why is there a price difference between the two?

Certified organic honey meets very strict specifications in terms of harvesting and producing conditions:”] preserved areas, hives made of natural materials, use of organic products, regulated treatments, traceable and transparent operations…(according to EU standards). Organic honey exists in smaller quantities because setting up such a business and obtaining certification is more expensive, entailing a price increase.

However, organic honey is not purer or of better quality as bees are free insects that fly within a 3 km radius around their hive and cannot be controlled. It is necessary to monitor honey in order to guarantee its end quality, whatever the harvesting and collecting methods.

At Famille Michaud Apiculteurs we consider that all honeys, whether organic or not, must be safe. This is why we control 100% of our honey in our laboratory.

Our organic honeys offer you a twofold guarantee:
– a selection of organic beekeeping honeys;
– and a rigorous control of honey after it is collected and put into jars, guaranteeing a total compliance of the honey you consume.