Any easy way to dry honey
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  1. #1
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Any easy way to dry honey

    For many years robbing and processing honey being driven by weather, bloom cycles or the bees in my operation. I have struggled with what to do with uncapped frames or times when even capped honey holds too much moisture to be considered safely cured. With the current monsoon here in the southeast delaying robbing I decided to take control of the honey moisture issue. I purchased a 250 dollar 70 quart per day dehumidifier from Lowe's and located several box fans. I robbed all supers in 2 bee yards regardless of percentage of capped frames. 50 shallow and medium supers were stacked across extra top covers turned on their tops so that air could vent out the bottom. A box fan was laid facing down on top of each stack and placed on low. The dehumidifier lowered the humidity in my 24 x 24 garage from 80% to 35% overnight. The temperature remained around 83 degrees. After two days all the supers had been reduced from 18.7 for capped honey and over 20% uncapped to 17.3 or less. After extraction most pails test out at 17% or less even after mixing in some wetter supers I robbed on processing day. One day of drying would probably have been enough. (At 35% open (such as drips) honey actually gave up moisture during processing. It is possible that at 35% no fans would be needed to dry the frames.)
    Problem solved. From now on I will be processing honey when I want to; not when the weather, bloom cycles or the bees dictate. My challenge now is getting it to quit raining long enough to rob another 50 supers. The limitations to this method are 1. Space. You need a room that isn't too small or the dehumidifer and fans will over heat the room or so large (or drafty) that you cannot remove humidity 2. how many box fans you need and 3. Hive beetles. Once supers are removed from hives supers will need to be processed before beetles can lay eggs and hatch which is 2-4 days. You cannot take more than you can process in that timeframe.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    excellent. that's very similar to how i do it tim. my garage is connected to the house and receives an a/c feed so the humidity is already a little lower than outside. my dehumidifier then gets it on down to 35-40%. i allow 48 hours 'drying' time. my refractometer readings are consistently 16-17% after bottling regardless of what the humidity outside happens to be. nice thick honey.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Lincolnton, NC
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    So this may be a stupid question, but how does air humidity of 40% reduce honey moisture content below that.
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 17 years; TF for 12; Zone 7B

  5. #4
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    Dec 2015
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    Shelby, Missouri USA
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    526

    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    It would be just like hanging a towel to dry in the bathroom. The moisture from the honey will evaporate. Tim is helping to process by creating an air flow through the honey and lowering the humidity in the room. A higher room humidity would cause the honey to dry slower or not at all. The dehumidifier removes the honey moisture that has evaporated into the air and sends it down the drain.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    In an enclosed room, with no outside humidity coming in, such as your house is. If you run an a.c. unit, does your inside of your house have the humidity that it's like humidity outdoors. No. You have an a.c. unit, that removes moisture from the air in the return unit inside. As the fan blows cold air into the house, Freon inside coils is near freezing temps. Just above. As the return air sucks the air through the filter/return of a.c., the inside air in your house moves over these coils, and moisture is released into a drip pan under the a.c. return. Which drains outside your house. Same principle with a dehumidifier, same process, and only difference is you have a catch pan that catches the water/humidity, and you dump the water out daily, or you put a drain hose on it going outside. Hope this helps...

  7. #6
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    that's a great question and something i hadn't considered heaflaw.

    by extension how is it that capped honey doesn't take in enough water to ferment when the humidity outside rises to near 100%?

    it makes sense that if the wax cappings are preventing moisture from getting in that they would also prevent us from 'drying' moisture out.

    i tried to google search for an answer to this but couldn't find anything.

    it make me wonder if the actual effect is coming from uncapping and extracting in a 'dry' environment.

    some of our commercial friends have mentioned bringing honey in to dry before extracting but i'm not sure how they go about it exactly.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    found this:

    "For example, given enough time, honey that is exposed to air with a 60% humidity level will balance out with it at about 18.3% moisture content. This is not a bad place to be. Most honey will not ferment at this level although there are some that will. When exposed to 50% humidity, the moisture content in honey will lower to about 15.9%...

    Honey bees try to keep their hive between 50% and 60% humidity for good reason."

    and:

    "In our drying room at Blue Ridge Honey Co. we use two commercial dehumidifiers that run 24/7 during extracting season. Along with keeping the temperature 85 to 90˚F, this keeps the humidity level well below 30% even when it is as high as 100% outside. We move this air through the stacks of supers with industrial fans mounted on the ceiling and by doing so see a notable decrease in moisture content in just a few days. Although, contrary to popular belief, moisture can and does migrate through wax cappings, we try to harvest our honey supers with a small amount of comb still uncapped to achieve a quicker and greater overall moisture reduction."

    from: http://www.beeculture.com/processing...a-closer-look/

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    even though my garage is service by our central a/c unit, the heat from the dehumidifier and fan motors result in the temperature getting up to about 78 - 80 degrees f.

  10. #9
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    Feb 2007
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    Lincolnton, NC
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    I understand how AC's and dehumidifiers work. I just don't understand the scientific process of how 40% air humidity can reduce humidity of honey that is already 20%. If you guys answered that question already, ok. But I didn't get it.
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 17 years; TF for 12; Zone 7B

  11. #10

    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    In my very small operation honey ferments if it contains too much pollen.

    I extract some of the deadout`s honey and some from honey mediums, but in future I will separate the two and freeze the broodcomb honey to use for me only, not to sell.

    The honey from broodcomb domes contained pollen cells, the pollen stayed in the cells while extracting, but still the honey containes a lot of pollen. One third of it fermented after 6 months storing or even later.
    Storage is at 15-20°C.

    The honey not out of broodcombs did not ferment. I ventilated the moisture but never checked with refractometer. All honey was mostly capped before harvesting. The broodcomb honey was last years so the pollen could have been fermented before I extracted.

    IMO the honey ferments if it contains too much pollen no matter if capped or not. If open honey canīt be shaken out itīs good enough to harvest.

  12. #11
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    Oct 2016
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    York County, VA, USA
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    This issue is one which throws _many_ students in their chemistry/physics classes. It deals with what is called equilibrium. Squarepeg mentioned one core observation: at less than 100% relative humidity, things like wet towels dry out. Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air divided by the maximum it could be between drops in fog...relative to how much water there could potentially be until it sticks to itself and drops out as rain or cloud. The actual proportion of water in honey at equilibrium with air of some relative humidity does not follow a 1:1 numerical relationship. Otherwise at 60% relative humidity (a relatively dry-feeling atmosphere) your towel would be 60% water. Soggy, and counter to your known experience. A 10% relative humidity arid-arid-arid environment would not give your towel 10% water.

    Honey exposed to air has a certain affinity for water. So does your towel. Neither has an outstandingly high affinity for it. A drop of water on a clean surface will totally evaporate and leave a dry surface behind in a 60% relative humidity atmosphere. Honey will keep 18% or so water content, according to Squarepeg's quoted value. But try some Calcium Chloride, and it will suck the water out of the air and liquify itself ("deliquescence;" if you look you can see the "liq"uid in the word). The water vapor "sticks" to the Calcium Chloride, and eventually enough stays behind to dissolve an initially dry pile of the material. Different materials have different affinities for water. If you put a pile of Calcium Chloride in the same room with some honey, it will suck the water out of the air, and as that dry air circulates near the honey, it will let some of the water evaporate out of the honey. The equilibrium content is a balance between what evaporates from the honey into the air and what sticks to the honey when it's bouncing around between air molecules and happens to hit the honey. If there's not a lot of water in the air, what leaves the honey won't return.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    Very nice job there Michael. Good lab lessen there. Mine was based on a.c. or dehumidifier tech...Lol thanks allot as I've learned from this .

  14. #13
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    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    Such is the case with air drying lumber.

    Thanks for the explanation.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  15. #14
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    Aug 2016
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    Joplin, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    Michael is correct. The confusion is because we leave out the word "relative" when we speak of the humidity in reference to weather conditions. In a typical residence in Missouri you will find that most wooden items like furniture will be 6% moisture whereas wood that is stored and stacked outside will be 12%. Honey has a moderate affinity to water so it deemed to be hydrophilic. If wood in a residence acclimates to 6% moisture honey will be higher than that and table salt will be even higher after a given amount of time.

  16. #15
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    Dec 2013
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    Fulton, mississippi
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    How many supers did you place under one box fan. I'm thinking about trying this. Thanks

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    So, in my extracting/bottling room, if my humidity meter reads 60 at temperature of 70 degrees, will this dry honey to below 18 percent moisture content?
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 17 years; TF for 12; Zone 7B

  18. #17
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    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim B View Post
    The limitations to this method are 1. Space. You need a room that isn't too small or the dehumidifer and fans will over heat the room or so large (or drafty) that you cannot remove humidity 2. how many box fans you need and 3. Hive beetles. Once supers are removed from hives supers will need to be processed before beetles can lay eggs and hatch which is 2-4 days. You cannot take more than you can process in that timeframe.
    I don't think you need the box fans. The 70 quart a day dehumidifier is likely rated for a 4-500 sqaure foot room, something about the same size of your garage.

    I am pretty sure hive beetle eggs do not hatch when relative himidity is less than 50%. So as long as the dehumidifier is running and the relative humidifier of the garage is 35%. hivebeetles are a non-issue.

    Jean-Marc

  19. #18
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default

    Thank you smart people . I have a vague recollection of all of this from Mr Durkee's science class in high school. I did pass but let's say not with flying colors so a refresher course is very useful. J

  20. #19
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    Quote Originally Posted by rpharr View Post
    How many supers did you place under one box fan. I'm thinking about trying this. Thanks
    My stacks were six or seven feet high so 12-14 shallow. The fan blew down and I could feel a slight movement of air through the bottom vents.

  21. #20
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: Any easy way to dry honey

    If the supers were positioned with space between supers, for instance stacking them across one another they might not need the circulation. You are probably right about the beetles. I brought home very few but never saw any beetle larva except a few showed up in some cappings.

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