There are various terms producers use to label their honey: Natural, Pure, and Raw are probably the most common. The first two are ambiguous by definition; all 'honey' is natural, otherwise it is not honey, and likewise, unless things are added to the honey, then it must be pure, but it does not necessarily follow that nothing has been taken away!
Although the technical definition of Raw honey is quite 'loose', it is generally regarded as the best indication of 'quality' for the consumer. There are two main factors involved when defining Raw honey; the temperature and the texture.
With regard to the temperature, it must not be heated to significantly above 35ºC (the temperature within the hive) as this destroys the honey's nutritional benefits.
Any heating of honey needs to be done gradually; flash-heating, as in microwaving (even once bought by the consumer) destroys enzymes and chemically changes the honey. Honey that has been pasteurised (heated to a high temperature for an extended period of time) will remain runny, but sadly, will have no health benefits whatsoever, it will merely be a sweet syrup.
The texture of the honey can be in various formats. The 'straight from the hive' texture is opaque and will consist of: honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and even various 'bee parts' - wings, legs, etc. It is generally accepted that these additional elements provide additional health benefits for the consumer.
After a period of time the honey will set, like well frozen ice cream; the beeswax is the main reason for this, but it can be returned to its initial 'creamy' state by gentle heating.
Strained honey is honey that has been strained using a filter large enough to capture the beeswax and bee parts, while allowing all the other additional ingredients to pass through and remain in the honey. The result is a 'liquid' honey that is much easier to work with.
Filtering is similar to straining, but can, we believe, be counter productive to the health benefits of honey. Filtering removes all of the additional elements in the honey, including the pollen, producing the crystal clear honey we are used to seeing on our supermarket shelves. It may still be classed as 'raw' if it has not been heated significantly above 35ºC, but, in our opinion, 'Raw' should mean 'as close to its original source as possible'. We therefore insist that only the beeswax and bee parts are removed from our honey. It is not 'crystal clear', with the exception of Acacia which is a naturally pale, transparent honey, but it is as close to honey that has come straight from the hive as we can make it, and above all, it retains all its original health benefits.