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Although I've been beekeeping 10 years, I just extracted 3 medium supers of spring honey. I've never pulled honey this early but I had a banner year in SE Michigan & needed the frames for my colonies. Anyway, the honey measures 21.6% moisture & I've never had it so high. The frames were at least 85%-90% capped so I'm at a loss as to (1) what happened to cause such a high moisture reading and (2) what is the best way to get the moisture down to 18%? I have read that some Florida honey is wet at 20+% and doesn't ferment. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Are you sure your refractometer is calibrated properly?

Some years back in late summer I extracted honey that had over 21% moisture content, which I checked after extracting. I left it in a bucket in my basement with a closed lid thinking I'll use it for brewing. Forgot about it and in the spring the honey was crystalized and solid as a brick. No sign of fermentation whatsoever. I kept it for personal use.

If you're selling it and are worried about it, I've heard/read about beekeepers dehydrating honey with a dehumidifier and a fan in a small room. If you're keeping it for personal use, or to give away to friends and family, I wouldn't worry about myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm glad that this happened to someone else beside me. The only thing that was done differently this year was extracting in 85 degree heat with 85% humidity. Is sping honey generally "wetter" than fall honey?
 

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I've had honey that was 20% or 21% or so moisture last for many years without any issues.

I wouldn't do anything -

The bees know when honey is ready for storage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What was the floral source for this Spring honey?

Crazy Roland
I have colonies in 3 distinct areas: 50 miles north of Detroit (wildflower, maple & raspberry); 30 miles south of Detroit (soy, wildflower, maple, raspberry & thistle) and 10 single colonies in suburban backyards (ornamental,maple & whatever). I combined all the frames from these areas when I extracted.
 

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I've got a digital refracometer so that isn't an issue. Never pulled spring honey until yesterday, very light & floral taste.
What kind of digital refractometer do you use? I too had what appeared to be very runny honey this year---but when tested with my bee club's good quality Atago optical refractometer it checked out ok. Going forward a digital version seems like a good idea...but they are so expensive and I have a modest operation.
 

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Although I've been beekeeping 10 years, I just extracted 3 medium supers of spring honey. I've never pulled honey this early but I had a banner year in SE Michigan & needed the frames for my colonies. Anyway, the honey measures 21.6% moisture & I've never had it so high. The frames were at least 85%-90% capped so I'm at a loss as to (1) what happened to cause such a high moisture reading and (2) what is the best way to get the moisture down to 18%? I have read that some Florida honey is wet at 20+% and doesn't ferment. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Did you check it while it was still in the frames or after you had it in buckets? If you tested it while it was in the buckets did you mix it up before testing or did you take a sample from the top? I would let it sit a day or so and mix all of the honey that is in the bucket and then test it from several inches below the surface. Testing only from an inch at the top on a humid day can give a false reading.
 

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Do get a accurate reading with a calibrated refractometer and thoroughly mix honey before getting the sample.

Capped honey does not necessarily mean 18% honey. It is hard to get honey to 18% when there is high humidity. Bob Binnie videos from Georgia on warming rooms show that a dehumidifier is part of warming room there. One can pull a % per day off with a dehumidifer.

It is be far best to test honey in the frames and dehumidify honey in the frames. I have tried shallow large bowls in a warm room and the honey started to ferment. There is a much larger surface area to release moisture when honey is in the frames.

The shelf life of 21% honey is maybe 6 months. It can separate and fermentation easily starts.

An option is to store it in ice cream pails in a deep freeze. However, depends on how much honey you have.

Another option is to run a dehumidifier and gets some 15% honey and blend 50-50. Even 18% can be marginal for long term(more than a year) storage.
 

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Although I've been beekeeping 10 years, I just extracted 3 medium supers of spring honey. I've never pulled honey this early but I had a banner year in SE Michigan & needed the frames for my colonies. Anyway, the honey measures 21.6% moisture & I've never had it so high. The frames were at least 85%-90% capped so I'm at a loss as to (1) what happened to cause such a high moisture reading and (2) what is the best way to get the moisture down to 18%? I have read that some Florida honey is wet at 20+% and doesn't ferment. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
I have a small chest freezer that I converted to a temperature controlled heater. Set the temp to about 100-110 degrees and put your honey in a 5 gal bucket without a lid and come back every few days to open the heater lid to let the excess moisture out and repeat until you get the reading you want.
 

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19.5% moisture honey that has been heated enough to kill the yeasts can be stored room temperature without fermenting. I dont trust it above about 18.3% for raw honey. Bob Binnie produces and sells hundreds of tons of honey and I believe his target is 17% if he puts his name and reputation on it. Its been a while since I watched his presentation so check on that figure, but it is nowhere near as high as 19%.

He also mentions that some honey from certain areas harbours yeasts that will ferment at lower levels than others, and can vary from year to year. It would be pretty embarrassing to have customers trashing your honey and reputation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
19.5% moisture honey that has been heated enough to kill the yeasts can be stored room temperature without fermenting. I dont trust it above about 18.3% for raw honey. Bob Binnie produces and sells hundreds of tons of honey and I believe his target is 17% if he puts his name and reputation on it. Its been a while since I watched his presentation so check on that figure, but it is nowhere near as high as 19%.

He also mentions that some honey from certain areas harbours yeasts that will ferment at lower levels than others, and can vary from year to year. It would be pretty embarrassing to have customers trashing your honey and reputation.
Thanks everyone. I will retest the honey under the surface & go from there. I tested 2 frames & they were at 18% but got complacent & didn't test the remaining frames before extracting. Learned yet another lesson. I will never know everything about bees & beekeeping but I will always be willing to learn.
 

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The glucose/fructose sugar ratios matter too. Goldenrod honey like to crystalize fast and have the remaining liquid get higher in moisture than the mix.

Crazy Roland
 
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