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Discussion Starter #1
My backyard TBH has been very generous with honey this year. I harvested 17 pounds, and there is still plenty left in the TBH for them now and for winter to come. 15 pounds came out normally -- great honey. But I had the same problem with 2 of the combs which gave me, as I can best describe it, fermented honey. (?)

These 2 combs were similar: the bottom was very dark comb, the rest was normal colored comb. They were completely capped. I did what I normally do: cut the top bar off, uncap the cells with a fork, cut the comb in small-ish pieces, put those in a large glass jar which I invert over another, larger glass jar (like an hour glass) with a cloth mesh in between to filter out the wax and impurities.

After the honey filtered through by force of gravity, and I collected the honey, it smelled really strong of grapes/wine. I dipped a finger in it to taste it, and to me it tastes like fermented honey.

Is this possible?

If it is possible, can I use this honey for personal use? Can I use it raw at room temp? Is it good only to bake with? Do I need to discard it?

It has never happened before so I am a bit at a loss to understand what might be going on. Botulism would be a concern, of course. Is that even possible?

Thank you in advance for any help and/or suggestions.
 

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Just feed it back to the bees and be done worrying about it.
Don't wait until cold, however.
Best do it now.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have kept this honey in a small jar without the lid on for a few days, it still tastes a lot like wine/grapes, but the alcohol / fermentation issue seems to be much less. Mmmmm ?
 

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I have kept this honey in a small jar without the lid on for a few days, it still tastes a lot like wine/grapes, but the alcohol / fermentation issue seems to be much less. Mmmmm ?
Fresh honey can not be really fermenting.
Fermenting == gas production == bubbles.
In your case, this is just an odd "honey" - could be coming directly from a nearby gas station trash can (who knows?).

But like I said, if you don't like it - feed it back and be done and move on with your life.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes, you are correct. There were/are no bubbles or gas production. So, my initial choice of words, "fermented," perhaps was incorrect. I used that word, because I was comparing it to Kombucha: when I tasted the honey it tasted (to my palate, at least) like about a 2% alcohol content.

So, "odd" honey. OK. Can it be that it tastes like grapes/wine because the bees went to those flowers? This same TBH gave me a couple of combs of honey with a lovely aftertaste of peppermint, so I thought that maybe the bees had found a patch of mint flowers for those?

I am trying to understand what might have happened here. I use the honey for myself. Is it OK to eat "odd" honey?

Usually this TBH produces little honey, enough for them to survive the winter, plus maybe a couple of pounds or so for me. This summer has been exceptionally generous. We are in a dearth right now, so I am leaving them alone. They don't like me opening the hive when it's so dry.

Thanks for the back-and-forth.
 

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Last year's honey harvest had a high moisture content, just over 19%. I never saw any bubbles or anything like that, but the jars did pop a little when opened, indicating the pressure had built up a tiny bit in them. The honey was still good but had a slight tang to it. This year was much better with moisture closer to 17%. I plan on using the remaining jars of last year's crop to make mead. Botulism is tasteless AFAIK, so that should not be a concern.
 

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Last year's honey harvest had a high moisture content, just over 19%. I never saw any bubbles or anything like that, but the jars did pop a little when opened, indicating the pressure had built up a tiny bit in them. The honey was still good but had a slight tang to it. This year was much better with moisture closer to 17%. I plan on using the remaining jars of last year's crop to make mead. Botulism is tasteless AFAIK, so that should not be a concern.
I have had buckets of honey that I filled almost completely full, crystallize over winter and leak out the top. When opened, there is no evidence of fermentation, so I assume that honey slightly expands when crystals form, much like water to ice.
 

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I have had buckets of honey that I filled almost completely full, crystallize over winter and leak out the top. When opened, there is no evidence of fermentation, so I assume that honey slightly expands when crystals form, much like water to ice.
I had exact same issue - few jars leaked as if expanded.
No fermentation whatsoever.
After warming in a car and liquefying, we are eating this last season honey - good stuff.
 

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Can it be that it tastes like grapes/wine because the bees went to those flowers? ... Is it OK to eat "odd" honey? .
They could have visited a vine yard - sure.
Eating the "odd" honey should be fine I think, as long as you like it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you to all, for the replies. It's an acquired taste, for sure. Now that, having kept the glass jar lid-less for a few days, I no longer perceive an 'alcohol component' (for lack of a better word choice -- and it is my subjective perception, granted) it is actually now just a strong, but interesting, honey with a grape / wine taste. It must be vineyard honey, then :)

Thanks again for the brainstorming :)

Sylvia
 
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