Alot depend on the size ofsupers you are using. A small super is about 60 lb/super and deep supers could go about 100 lb/super. These are average figures though. I would put the surplus honey in quart or half gallon jars. These are usable amounts. You can fill smaller jars when needed for sale and if it crystallizes then the amount is easy to turn back into a liquid.
Maybe I'm wrong but I kinda left it up to the bees..if the honey was in the comb and capped I figured it was the right % of moisture? Should I go out and buy something to measure this? Is there a way to see this visually?
If all the cells weren't sealed, you extracted some nectar or unripe honey that could affect the moisture content. This is measured using a refractometer. You might be able to find one at your local beekeeping association or another beekeeper. They're relatively expensive for the hobbyist.
Refractors are sold on e-bay every week. They're cheaper than they used to be, and if they save a 5 gallon bucket of honey from fermenting due to high moisture, then they've paid for themselves.
I've been toying with the idea of a forced-air, low heat source - maybe 90 degrees - to blow through a stack of supers before I extracted. The heat would make extracting easier and the heat would remove moisture.
At this point, it's still a concept. I'm not sure if it would really make a difference. The big boys store their supers in a "warm room" before they extract.
I know a beekeeper who pulls his honey off 100% uncapped, and then puts it into a room with a dehumidifier until it's below 19%
Heat alone wont reduce moisture, you need somewhere for the moisture to go.
> Heat alone wont reduce moisture, you need
> somewhere for the moisture to go.
Well, heat alone WILL do the job, as hot air rises,
and convection alone will take care of moving
the hot moist air out, as long as there is some
sort of venting or the usual "leaks" in any
But a fan certainly helps. An actual dehumidifier
works better, and uses less electricity than
the heater-and-fan approach. I have a pair
of basement dehumidifiers I bought at yard
sales, each one a 2-foot cube. They can do
some impressive work, once you hook up drain
hoses to their collection pans so that they
can run unattended. Some come with built-in
garden hose fittings on the pans, and this would
be a very nice feature to have.
But even an air conditioner will dry out the
air quickly, so a window unit or two might do
None of this will help much unless you get an
accurate hygrometer (humidity gage) and
make sure that you have control over your
extracting and bottling environment. Taylor
makes decent instruments, and they are adjustable,
so you can hang it outside, and calibrate it
to your local weather report for a few days
in a row to tweak it into reality.
> if the honey was in the comb and capped I
> figured it was the right % of moisture?
This is not always true, which is why one
needs to use a refractometer to check a
sample of honey BEFORE pulling supers.
Capped honey CAN ferment, if it is not
eaten quickly, but many hobby beekeepers
might not notice, given the speed with
which honey "sells out".
Watch out for eBay refractometers. There are
many types, including ones intended for use
on wine or fruit juice, ones intended for use
on urine, and many other less common types.
What you want is a refractometer that will read
water % from roughly 12% up to 27% (Brix 87 to
Brix 71). Don't waste your money on something
that will not measure the proper range of Brix!
You also want automatic temperature control
("ATC") unless you just like doing math in
your head all the time.
I used to have a top-of-the-line Atago
refractometer costing several hundred
dollars, circa 1980-something, but it
took a one-way trip down a flight of
concrete stairs. With great doubts, I bought
Dadant's middle-priced (made in China)
model, the RHB-90ATC, and I was impressed.
For less than $100, it is every bit as
good as the Atago was. Don't buy the
cheapest one, as even Dadant employees
dismiss it as "not really worth buying".
I have no idea why "honey refractometers" come
with such wide measurement ranges, as capped
honey will rarely be less than 15% water (Brix
83), and rarely will be above 21% water (Brix 77).
Good info Jim...thanks. As a hobbiest beekeeper (I only have 2 hives) so do I really need to worry about testing for moisture? I will store my honey for...say...overwinter. But as you said my honey is pretty much gone by the time the bees produce a new spring crop.
> do I really need to worry about testing for
What you are really asking is "do I need to spend
the money", correct? The time required is only
a few seconds.
Convince your local bee club to buy a shared
refractometer, and the cost goes down to maybe
$5 or $10 per beekeeper. Running the thing
around to whoever wants to use it next would be
a pain, but if money is the issue, bee club owned
gear is the way to go.
I buy disposable plastic cattle syringes without
the needles, and use them to suck the honey out
of a few cells for testing. This lets me keep
the refractometer safe in its cushioned box in a
drawer, but still allows me to check honey before
pulling supers. I just jot the hive number on a
strip of masking tape on the syringe, to keep
things straight. They can be washed and reused
One could use these same syringes to sample
one's own crop, and then meet at a central
location to do the refractometer testing as
a group over coffee.
If you only have two hives, your best option
is to leave the supers on the hive until they
test as "dry enough". You don't want to try
to dry it out mechanically, as I assume you
don't have the facilities.
Here's another hint - take your refractometer
to the next state fair or honey show, and
calibrate it against one of the honey judges.
These folks buy the best toys, and know how
to calibrate, so if yours does not match theirs,
you can simply take their reading as "gospel",
and tweak yours to match.
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