Dead AirBnB honeys are a “thing”

There was a cluster of old honeys in the kitchen cupboard of the AirBnB we stayed at recently. Some were brands I’d never seen before, including one from tiny Pitcairn Island, in the middle of the Pacific.

Pitcairn Island honey
But regrettably most of them were old, and candied or cystallized. Indeed they were so solid that you could barely get a spoon into them and largely unusable. They were as good as dead.

Moreover it wasn’t the first time I’d found dead honeys at an AirBnB.

So what is it about honeys at some AirBnBs? Why, at some AirBnBs, do dead honey jars seem to breed in the cupboards?  And does it happen at enough AirBnB’s that its become an actual “phenomenon”, common enough for us to start talking about AirBnB honeys as a real “thing”?

Well, I’ve expended actual brain-power on these questions, and here's my conclusions.

To start with, the fact is that AirBnB doesn’t require listings for properties on the AirBnB web site to say whether or not guests will find a complimentary jar of honey stocked in the cupboard. 

So honey-loving AirBnB guests face a real dilemma – do they take a jar with them, or do they stand ready to buy a jar locally if it turns out there’s no honey provided, or do they simply do without honey for a day or two (or for however long they’re staying).

If you’re anything like me, ‘doing without’ isn’t an option. Moreover, going out and buying some locally defeats the purpose of the AirBnB anyway.  When we’re going to an AirBnB I’m usually planning to minimize any shopping, and spend most of my time either relaxing, or taking in those special local sights and sounds.

So I usually find myself taking a jar of honey with me.

The luggage risk issue.

Now this is where I’ve had my Eureka moment ( or some sort of  moment anyway!).  I've identified and named what I'm calling the luggage risk issue. Or in other words the risk that the jar will leak and make a mess in my luggage.

Now I usually try and avoid the luggage risk on the way home – by leaving my honey behind.

However its not an entirely unproblematic decision. I do recognise that guests leaving things behind can be a real nuisance for AirBnB hosts to deal with.

But I can usually salve my conscience by telling myself that my little honey jar legacy isn’t actually yet another item left behind that the cleaners will have to dispose of - it’s more of a bequest, a useful, usable and enduring gift to the property.

Of course, over the years, as other guests do the same thing, the honey collection in the AirBnB cupboard will start to grow, and multiply.

And unless the owners periodically check on the contents of the jars, or guests leave a note to let them know, the honeys will decompose, crystallize, and become so solid as to be unusable.

Now before you say it - I know, I know. Honey never goes off;  even, if it crystallizes. And every honey jar, in fact just about every jar of honey every produced bears a lable claim that you can restore honey by standing it in warm water.

The reality, however, as everyone knows, is that after a jar of honey has been opened, and left open on the bench for a time, (often as not in the direct sunlight), a typical jar of honey will not only crystallize, but also start to separate into sugar and water.

So there’ll be a thin layer of liquid on the top, and the crystals underneath will be nearly solid and certainly tough to get a spoon into.

Realistically, once honey has reached this stage of decomposition it isn’t really usable for anything much, and certainly won’t be restored by standing it in hot water.

The process doesn’t reflect anything wrong with the honey itself – its simply a reflection of the basic chemical characteristics of natural bee honey.

Firstly, in the bee hive, the bees ‘mature’ their honey once it has been stored in the honeycomb cells by standing over the top and flapping their wings.

This reduces the honey’s water content below natural atmospheric levels and prevents premature crystallization and/or fermentation.

It also means that liquid honey is effectively a supersaturated sugar solution. It has a higher proportion of sugar in it than is normal and so can be described as chemically unstable. 

From a consumer standpoint this means that when a jar of honey is left out with the lid off for any length of time, it naturally starts to absorb water from the atmosphere.

Second, honey is naturally composed of two main constituent types of sugar - glucose and fructose. The glucose crystallizes more quickly and when it does it will typically separate into its component solids and water.

Moreover if a yeast gets into that watery liquid, a process of fermentation will begin and the liquid will develop a slightly bitter and unpleasant taste.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Normal consumer use (or abuse) of honey, leaving it out on the bench of an AirBnB after its been opened will degrade the honey. And after a time it will be effectively decomposed and no longer usable.

So what does this all mean, and particularly for AirBnB property owners?

My advice is to consider providing guests with mini-honey jars, such as those available at from BeerenbergBeerenberg mini honey 30gms jarsThese little jars contain enough honey to drizzle over a bowl of breakfast cereal, spread on a piece of toast, or sweeten a hot drink. They've got re-sealable metal twist tops and companion metal stands are available to make them look attractive on a kitchen table.

Providing these little jars should lessen the chance of guests using their own honeys and leaving them behind.

And if AirBnB hosts decide to keep the honey bequests of their guests, rather than throwing them out, they should remember to periodically check on them to make sure they're still good.

Because currently, dead AirBnB  honeys are, indeed, a thing!!

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  • Jesus F. Forte on

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