Pure Honey Label with Net Weight

When it comes to honey bottling, you have options — plastic or glass; bear-shaped or round; flip-top, spout, or screw-on lids; decorative or simple label — but there are some requirements that must be followed for packaging honey. Explore our Bottles 101 guide to find tips for choosing, preparing, and filling your honey bottles.

The history of honey packaging

Honey has been sold in many different containers through the years. Historically, dating as far back as ancient Egypt, honey was harvested by removing combs from wild hives and combs were stored in jars. In the days that Upton Sinclair described in The Jungle where food adulteration was rampant, people had grown weary of buying extracted honey with added water or other sugars, so discerning honey buyers would only buy honey in the comb. Only the bees could make honeycomb, so buying comb honey helped ensure the product was pure. Now, we have the US Food and Drug Administration and other state agencies overseeing food production, ensuring that when you buy a jar of "Pure Honey," it is going to be exactly that.

Cut comb containers are still a popular method for packaging and selling honey, though other options are often easier to find on the shelves. Plastic honey bears have been a popular packaging option since the 1950s, and various shaped plastic containers and glass jars are other favorites. Honey pails are a bulk packaging option, ideal for sending large amounts of honey to bakeries, kitchens, and personal care product producers.

How is honey measured?

Are honey bottles filled by weight, volume, or something else? There are many ways to answer this question, but let’s start with the requirements: To create a level playing field, the government has dictated that honey be sold by its weight. This means, when creating your honey labels, list the measurement by weight, not volume. 

But, how do you determine how much a bottle can hold? Because there are different places on the bottle that people consider the "full" mark, this answer may vary. Here are the basics:

  • It is not recommended that fill your honey jar until it is flowing over the top — you will waste honey and have sticky jars that need to be cleaned.
  • Filling a 16-ounce jar with 12 ounces of honey and putting "12 ounces" on the label is an accepted method, but is likely to make the customer feel cheated out of some honey.
  • Many people consider the proper fill point on a bottle to be on the bead or neck ring, but the bottle must still be labeled by weight rather than volume.
Betterbee Hex Jars

Volume versus weight

We have added the weight fill for each of our honey bottles so you know what will fit. However, some of the bottles we offer — like hex jars — are manufactured with more than just honey in mind. These jars are sized based on volume, rather than weight. For example, the 12-ounce hex jar holds 255ml at the top of the bead — but if you fill that with honey, it will weigh 12.96 ounces. Though we call it a 12-ounce honey jar, it is closer to 13 ounces. If you fill by weight, you might choose to fill bottles short of the bead.

In the Imperial and US systems of measuring, ounces are used to describe a unit of volume as well as a unit of weight or mass. When you are working with water, the volume ounce is the same as the "mass ounce." Honey is denser, however, so the volume ounce is equal to about 1.4 ounces of weight. This may vary too, depending on what percentage of the honey is water.

Because honey sold in the USA is measured by weight, the jars we sell are all set up in WEIGHT of honey. The volume measurement is less, so one common question we get is, "I bought an 8-ounce bear, but less than 6 ounces of water fit in it! Did you send me the wrong size?" This is because of the difference between honey weight and volume. While 8 weight ounces of honey fills that bear, that same bear only holds 5.7 fluid ounces of honey.

Types and shapes of honey bottles and containers

Honey containers typically come in plastic or glass. For plastic honey containers, we offer two tough materials: a clear polyester (PET) often used for food packaging, and an opaque, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) typically used for milk. Our plastic bottles and caps are free of BPA, which is used to make polycarbonate and epoxy — not the plastics our bottles are made from.

How to choose honey containers

Clear polyester on left and opaque high-density polyethylene on right.

A common honey jar shape is a narrow or "skinny" style — like the Classic honey jar or Queenline honey jar — which lets light pass through more easily, making the honey appear lighter. We also offer distinguished options, including traditional Muth and hexagonal jars, which offer a very distinctive appearance on a store shelf or market table.

Ensure your honey labels are compatible

Beyond shape preference, a consideration when choosing bottles for your honey is the label. Some jars have embossed designs or wording, making it hard to adhere your label to the glass — these are not ideal. Similarly, if you have a particular label you want to use, you will need to choose bottles sized to fit your preferred label. Our honey jar labels come in many different shapes and sizes, many of which can be customized with your business information.

Lug Caps

Lug Caps

Types of caps and lids for honey bottles

Each of our honey container listings includes a roster of the lid styles that will fit, so you can get the right cap for the job.

Most honey containers are compatible with a screw-on lid. Honey caps and lids come in two different thread types: 

  • The continuous thread style tightens like a bolt or nut does: as you tighten the cap, it tightens on the threads. You will need a full turn or more to secure the cap on the jar.
  • The lug cap requires only a quarter turn to seal. The threads on the jar are not continuous.

You cannot mix and match these cap and bottle types (e.g., a 48mm lug cap with a honeycomb design will not work on a CB1C 1 lb. classic glass bottle that has continuous threads).

In addition to thread type, you have various options for cap type. Some popular styles are plastic flip-top, hi-flow spouts, or dripless lids, metal caps, and muth jar corks. After topping your containers, you may choose to add tamper-evident labels or PVC shrink jar sleeves for an extra layer of protection.

Do you need to sanitize jars for honey?

Our plastic and glass containers are shipped clean and ready to be filled with your prepared honey, with no sanitization process required. While bottle manufacturing techniques mean sterilization isn’t required, some people still prefer to clean their new bottles before use.

Note: If you are refilling honey containers for personal use rather than for sale, you will need to ensure your honey jars are properly cleaned.

Many beekeepers use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to clean their bottles — but, if you use a dishwasher, be very careful cleaning plastic bottles: The manufacturing process involves blowing air into a “blob” of plastic until it expands to fill a mold (for example, in the shape of the classic honey bear or skep). However, when these plastic containers are exposed to heat — like in a dishwasher drying cycle or a microwave — the plastic begins to revert to its “blob” form, so a brand-new honey bear put in the dishwasher might come out unable to sit up straight. Our advice: don’t put plastic bottles in the dishwasher!

Check out all of the different glass and plastic honey containers we offer. Each bottle description includes which cap or lid to use, which of our labels will fit, and the volume and weight measurements of the bottle itself. If you can’t decide which honey bottles are best, reach out to our customer service team — we’re happy to help! For more tips about beekeeping, honey extraction, and bottling your product, explore our Beekeeping Guide.