Moisture Content - Page 2
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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,729

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    The incubator idea seems to have the moisture content stalled at just over 19%. I put a jar, uncapped, in the refrigerator a few days ago and it is now at 18.5%. I am very sore at myself for not having the refractometer and checking the frames BEFORE I extracted. Would have been much easier to get it down. But, the process is working, so I sill have hopes of salvaging this year's crop.

    The best part of frequent testing now is that, after stiring to assure uniformity, I get to lick the spoon!
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    4,211

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Revisiting an old thread because I screwed up. My meager honey harvest is a lot thinner than it was last year. So much so that it prompted me to buy a refractometer to check it. I ended up using evoo to calibrate the darn thing since the directions said to use water and the tiny bottle of some oil that came with it did not say what number to use. Anyhow, it looks like I have about 20 pint mason jars of 19.8% moisture content honey. At this point, what is the best way to get it down to 17%. I'm ready to dump them all back into a large pot and simmer. My honey is for personal use and to give to friends. Not worried about the raw natural part this year.

    The following assumes you have the honey in a plastic 5 gallon pail.

    What I've done in this situation is to bring a 5 gallon pail of honey into an air conditioned space, uncover the pail and place a standard band heater on the pail and then (securely!!) suspend a box fan above the liquid honey blowing down on the exposed honey. I do this in an small room closed off from the rest of the house, but still has conditioned air circulating through floor vents. Doing this, I can get about a 0.5% drop per day, and not overheat the honey. The blowing air keeps the uncovered honey from getting too hot, and the band heater naturally creates convection circulation to expose the honey to the air, so no need to stir.

    Summer honey produced near or on the east coast can be challenging, (80% daytime relative humidity, and nighttime dew points in the mid to high 70's) so I always "try" to make sure moisture is correct before extracting, but sometimes there are still problems. There's a fallacy that says bees won't cap honey until it is ready. Well, I've found capped cotton honey with the cappings bulging from gas due to fermentation. I routinely find capped cotton honey around 19% (and higher), which is why I like to pull summer honey with both capped and uncapped frames. You can readily dry the uncapped honey prior to extracting, but once its capped, you have few options other than what I described above.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  4. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Richmond, va
    Posts
    108

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    John, did you get any results yet on your honey?

  5. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Moisture Content

    Last check of the fridge honey was 18.5% Havent checked the incubator jars in a few days. May swqap plugs and put the incubator back in fridge mode to dry the remaining jars.

    Thanks for the info astrobee. I will keep that in mind for next year when I go into honey production instead of bee production.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #25
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    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,729

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    Update on the moisture reduction experiment. Its been an additional ten days and the fridge honey has not moved past 18.5%. Could be that the top layer was so dry and thick that additional moisture could not escape. I warmed it and stirred it for the reading. On the other hand, the four open jars in the incubator are now a solid 17%. Again no stirring until sample time. Also encouraged by the fact that even at a constant 105°, the honey has not fermented. I may have honey for friends and family yet!
    Last edited by JWPalmer; 08-23-2018 at 07:42 PM.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Garden City S, NY
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    Does the weather outside speed or slow the curing process within the hive? I'd think it would be a lot harder to cure honey with dew points in the 70's vs the lowers 60's or even 50's. My bees were able to cap almost 8 deep frames in June and July pretty quickly but the nectar they added to the medium super i added seems to be taking longer to cure with a long humid stretch of dewpoints above 70. Luckily its gotten bone dry out there these last few days with dew points in the mid 50's.

  8. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,802

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    Could be that the top layer was so dry and thick that additional moisture could not escape.
    As a SWAG, I'd assume the increased viscosity of cold honey would inhibit the movement of moisture throughout the whole container not just the top layer, though any "skimming" would further hinder release of any moisture.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  9. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    2,897

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    Even when fully capped, my honey rarely has moisture content under 19%. For a number of years I was concerned, because you read everywhere that “honey with over 18.6% moisture may ferment.” However, this was not my experience. My honey commonly has water content between 19% and 19.5%, and never fermented. I could try to bring it down to the magical 18.6%, but I don’t. When you dry honey, you also lose some of its volatile components that make up the aroma.
    https://www.beeculture.com/selling-honey-20-pound/

    USDA does just does some safe number for them since they don't even distinguish between the honey varieties (beekeepers should know better than this).
    Reality is all over and still fine and bees know best.
    Once honey is capped - it is good (regardless of the % moisture).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #29
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    4,743

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    "Once honey is capped - it is good (regardless of the % moisture)."

    Just for a bit of balance, consider that capped honey in some weather conditions can absorb moisture from surroundings.

    Relative moisture level is not the only factor in whether a honey will ferment or not. Different samples will have a variety of yeasts present, PH difference, and also different natural fermentation inhibitors.

    Some of the technical brewers and vintners could expound endlessly on this.

    It would be safe to say as a broad advisory that in general, the higher you go in moisture content the greater the risk of having fermentation.
    Frank

  11. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Garden City S, NY
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Moisture Content

    How long does it usually take to cure honey? Does it depend how many bees are actively fanning it or more on the outside dew points (ie humidity levels)?

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