Comb honey is unprocessed honey exactly as the bees created it. Rather than extracting the liquid honey from the hexagonal beeswax chambers, comb honey is cut from the hive and sold intact. This is the purest form of raw honey, containing all the nutrients and other substances found in natural honey. The taste, color and composition of comb honey will vary depending on the source of nectar used to produce it. Long before the extraction process was devised, humans ate all their honey right from the comb.
The only form of honey that is not processed by humans in any way, comb honey has never been filtered or heated and has no additives. This pure honey retains pollen grains and enzymes used by the bees to produce the honey from nectar. Bees bring nectar to the hive where it is processed by the bees to form honey. Once the honey has reached the desired moisture content, the bees cap each cell in the comb with white beeswax. Beekeepers then harvest the combs from the hive and package them for sale.
Honey is generally classified into four different types, depending on the processing methods used. Comb honey is completely unprocessed. It is simply cut from the hive and packaged. Liquid honey is produced by placing the comb in a centrifugal extractor to remove the honey from the beeswax comb. Creamy honey is a mixture of liquid honey and granulated honey, making it easy to spread. Chunk honey is a combination of honeycomb and additional liquid honey, usually packaged in a jar.
In addition to these four basic types of honey, great variety in color and taste exists. Bees forage for nectar on a wide variety of flowering plants, and the flavor and hue of the honey differs depending on the source of nectar. Alfalfa honey tends to be light in color, mild in flavor and is found in areas where alfalfa grows. Orange blossom honey is produced in areas where citrus crops bloom and is a light colored honey with a hint of citrus aroma and taste. Bees often make honey from a variety of different flowers producing so-called wildflower honey.
Most commercial honey is a pasteurized, filtered blend of different honeys to create a product with consistent color and flavor. This contrasts with comb honey, which is in a completely unadulterated condition, just as the bees made it. The beeswax can be eaten right along with the honey, although it is not a source of nutrients. Some people enjoy chewing it after they have eaten the honey. There are some who advocate raw honey as having more health benefits since it contains the pollen and enzymes removed during heating and filtering.