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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Beeks around here (M'boro, TN) are really complaining about the moisture content. Seems that most of it is around 20% capped. They are doing all kinds of things to get the moisture down to 19 or below.

Earlier in the flow capped honey was running around 18. Even after the low humidity spell we had there was no effect on the honey.

Any ideas?

Just took my first supers of honey off. Taking them to an older beek who will extract it for me. Got 9 supers off 2 hives. I guess that is pretty good. Heck 3 of these supers has more honey that I got last year and it beats none the year before that.
 

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What are you doing to lower the moisture? I'm not sure if my refractometer is reading correctly or not, but it is showing the exact same thing as the calibration oil, which is about 20%. The boundary line is very broad, so it may be a little different. Years ago, I lost a whole crop to fermentation, and do not want to go through that again.
 

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It would seem that you could always get some "large surface area" shallow plastic tubs (walmart or target). Put the honey in the tubs and the tubs into a room with a de-humidifier. A few hours and it should dry right out.

As for the broad boundry line on the refractometer, make sure your back is to the sun when using the thing. The line should be pretty crisp then.
 

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I heard people mention about using a de-humidifier, its worth a shot. Plus most of the refractometers can be calibrated and/or checked by using a few drops of pure clean bottled water before every reading!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't have a refractor but I need to get one. We checked my honey today as it was being extracted. It ran from 19.2 to 24!!!! I will bring it into the house in the buckets and let it stay in the AC. I will also get some plastic containers to pour the honey into to give the honey more air contact.

I will probably also put 1 or 2 fans in the room. Don't have a de-humidifier and they are not cheap!
 

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Wow, this is news to me and something I would not have considered. Just started keeping bees this past May and I thought that if it was capped, there was no problem with moisture content.

I may have to think about getting a thingamajig to check on my honey. Have't even considered the dehydration part yet.
 

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Hi Ken,
It has been very humid in Murfreesboro lately and honey is hygroscopic. It will absorb moisture. Leaving it uncovered may not necessarily be the answer. I try to cover my buckets up right after extracting so as to keep them from absorbing any more moisture from the air than they already have. Also...I have heard of folks putting their supers in a small room just for a few hours with a humidifier...before extracting...but I usually just take off my capped honey and extract asap. Since the Small Hive Beetles came along, I don't let any supers of honey sit around prior to extracting. I remove the supers, uncap and extract all in the same day...if possible. Ok buddy...Good luck & God bless.
 

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I have seen honey fermented inthe comb fully capped at 21 % or higher. Although it is not common it does happen. So what it does mean is just because its capped doesnt mean its not too high in moisture! When I ran aunder 100 hives I would remove honey just as bees started to cap it (1/4 capped). Stack on a raised paltform with dehumidifier running and moisture inroom at under 39%. You can take out 1-2 % a day. If its capped much slower! Once extracted even harder. When I had 30 hives I had a three sided stand built that dehumidifier sat inblowing dry air up through 12-16 supers at a time. Would really dry it! I then fixed a larger base that was madeoutj of 2x12 with honey stacked on it and small cage type fans blowingair thru it. Room moisture was down to 35%. Works great! My honey this year at my south yards (south of lex) is running about 16.5 and we are dry here. Honey from north of lex is running 17.5. humid weather can make thin honey!
 

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I might have the same problem. I have already bottled mine-30 gallons into quart & pint jars. It was really hot when I extracted & bottled and I really didn't notice. But when I compare this honey with what I have left over from last fall, this honey flows in the jars much faster. I planned to sell most of it, but I don't want to make anyone sick. What should I do?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Check the moisture content in some of the bottles using a refractor and also check for an odor or fermentation.

I have no idea as to how long it takes honey to ferment once it's been bottled and capped.

One beek told me that he had a customer purchase a bottle from him because the bottle she purchased earlier from another beek "had green on the top" of the honey.
 

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Interesting. If you wait until the humidity is lower before you harvest will it make a difference? Right now we have dew points in the upper 70s and humidity is extremely high. So would this be a bad time to havest?
 

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One beek told me that he had a customer purchase a bottle from him because the bottle she purchased earlier from another beek "had green on the top" of the honey.
Oh my!
 

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If you dont have a refractometer...here is a good way to tell if your honey is OK. Put a toothpick in it....let it drip off...dows it "string out" when it drips or does it drip like water? THis should be done at "room temp....in the 77-84 degree range....if you get in the 90's it will be thinner. Another way to tell is does it "stack up" when running out of a extractor in your bucket? By stacking up I mean does it kinda pile up before leaveling out in bucket. IF it goes down in like water then its likely too thin. I have seen 18.2- 18.6 ferment..I like it to be under 18%. You can heat it some (140) to retart fermentation but then ts border line not raw if you cont cool it quick. Yrs ago when I was a newbie I extracted in basement and had dehumidifier I thought all capped honey was ok. I put in buckets and stacked 4 high. It was a yr like this year..high humidity and big flow, in middle of night there was a BIG noise in basement....I thought it was a intruder, So I go down with gun and find buckets overturned with honey everywhere. The pressure got so great It blew lid off bottom bucket and turned stack over, and with the pressure lids came off....what a mess at 3 am! Thats when I questioned some long time beeks and found out just because its capped dont meant its ok. I learned to pull when they started to cap and dry it if it was a wet humid year.
 

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USCbeeman,

You say that you got 9 supers -- Around 300 lbs of honey. You don't say if you bottle it and sell it. You also said that a dehumidifier is too expensive.

Well, I sell my honey for 5-6 dollars a pound. So for that price and 300 lbs I would net $1500-$1800. I would not hesitate a second to purchase a dehumidifier. After the first crop it is free. So, you can let it ferment and get no income, or you can bite the bullet and probably still net a reasonable profit this year. I did like the dehumidifing stacks that were described by some others. Sounds like a good idea for a permanent arrangement.

Of course, if you don't have the money then that is another problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I roughly got around 265 lbs. 1 9 frame super I ended up only removing 4 frames as the other 4 had brood (pretty sure eggs too).

I purchased an old Sears dehumidifier today. Was used very little and in storage for 31 years. Paid $35 for it with a 2 week guarentee. Can't beat that.

I have the money. It's just that I am currently at least $7K in the hole for 3 years. But I will do what I have to do. If I have 22 gallons, that makes 88 quarts. At $16 a quart it comes out to $1400.

BTW, put the 5 frames in a nuc as a split. Had to shake some bees out from other hives. Will see what happens.
 

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I lost about 120 lbs of honey last year because of high moisture. It fermented just enough so the 1 1/2 lb squeeze bottles would swell up and leak. I was also using pint ball jars and the tops of the jars were bubbled out just a bit. I ended up feeding the honey back to the bees instead of dumping it. Now I'm running a dehumidifier with the supers sealed in a small room for 24 hours before extracting and have the honey testing at 18.2 to 18.4% moisture. After 10 years of beekeeping I finally went out and bought a refractometer. I tested a bottle of honey from the bad batch and it was at 19.2% moisture. I've also started being real careful about not pulling any uncapped honey comb. Even if it is 80% capped I'm leaving it on the hive and only pulling fully capped frames. I also extracted at the wrong time last year. It had rained off and on for over a week and the humidity had been real high, I'm betting that the honey picked up moisture even though it was capped. I'll be happy if I can get my honey down to under 18% moisture.
 

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beeboy..just because its capped doesnt mean you are ok. I pull orange when flow is just ending..lots of uncapped honey. At that time of year it is low humidity and my moisture is usuallt in high 16 to low 17%. Later in summer when humidity picks up like now on cabbage palm yu may have capped honey at 20%. Hard to dry capped honey..better pulling and drying. It is important to learn your flows and plan accordingly.
 
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