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Honey water percentages

2038 Views 18 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Omega
Alrighty, so conundrum for you all. I've pulled honey this year, fully capped, and keep consistently getting readings on my refractometers of around 20%, some slightly higher. So I'm thinking, I've gotta be screwing things up somewhere, because I shouldn't have wet honey coming out of capped frames, so invested in a digital Brix% scale. 77-79% Brix. At this point I'm convinced that I'm either really dumb, or the bees are playing pranks on me (definitely the former, I'm sure). Help!
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It can happen. The wax capping are very thin and honey is hygroscopic so it will absorb water from the air if its really humid out. I had a similar problem last year, you can put the honey in a room with a dehumidifier and pump air through it for a few days. Commercial producers actually have honey driers for this purpose, but thats because they tend to harvest a lot of nectar with their honey. Are you sure you extracted only capped honey and not some nectar?
There was less than 10% uncapped on the frames that weren't completely uncapped, and even the fully capped turned out that high despite us pulling them off and processing it immediately. Guess I need to find an efficient way to dry out all of this honey (¬_¬ )
Omega, last year my capped honey tested out at 19.8%, this year it is around 17%. I have not tested all the buckets yet. I guess some years are like that. I covered a lot of the mason jars from last year with cheesecloth and put them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. It brought the % down enogh that the honey did not ferment. I do not own a dehumidifier yet and VA is pretty humid in the spring and summer.
My honey this year tested anywhere from 18% to 20%.
If you use a digital meter as i do it is necessary to understand the meter is sensitive to the moisture content in the room in which you are testing. For example, I tested a jar of honey directly from my holding tank with a meter that had been in the room for a couple of days. It registered at 17.8. I then wiped it clean and took a reading from another jar that read 17.2. Once the meter is warmed up and is exposed to lower humidity it will give a more accurate reading. I try to take readings from my 5-gallon buckets but always find lower readings from my heated bottling tank as it helps reduce moisture content.
Just so I'm covering all my bases here, the moisture content percentage is 100 minus the Brix value, right?
My refractometer has a separate scale for moisture percentage. It is not the same as the Brix scale.
My meter only reads percentages of moistue content.
The one I bought is more of an all-purpose straight Brix meter that goes from 0%-85%. Does anyone know what mathmatical gymnastics I need to go through to get a honey moisture content reading? Can it even be done? If not then I have a refractometer to return.

EDIT: To add, I've been googling it and haven't really found anything that gives me an answer that really relates to this. I'm putting in digital legwork, but it seems that I'm stuck on a treadmill :lpf:
I'm going to be buying a refractometer so I looked into this a bit. An interesting article attached. Go to the last page for a chart. (1).pdf
Based on the chart your % is pretty high or there is some calibration issue or environmental condition to consider.
Oh awesome, thank you! And thank you to everyone else for all of the help!
Omega "77-79% Brix" : I have no idea what you are using exactly. But I can tell you what causes measurement errors from memory:
1. what is the scale you are using? The national BRIX standard is for sucrose. Honey is not sucrose and the scale requries a correction for honey or glucose and fructose mainly.

2. The source of nectar affects the capped % water. I think heather honey at 22% is acceptable in England.

3. Temperature of the honey and instruement causes errors. The scale is typically based on a 68F temperature for all components unless you have an active Peltier device for automatic temprature compensation. Again a correction facator can be used

4. If you have can active compensating device (not just the marketing ATC letters) make sure the batteries are fresh - old, weak batteries casue errors.

5. A sitting 5 gal pail will "split" - higher % water honey floats to the top.

Essentially the devil is in the details. A good refractometer is calibrated, has a "honey scale" built in and actively, heating or cooling, temperature compensates - $300.00 or more.

Also I have a dehumidifier in my bee/honey room plus an old freezer to heat and dry the room and thus the frame sand honey if needed. All my honey comes in at less than 18%. I also wonder how creamed honey is handled and measured - anyone?
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1. This is the refractometer that I have. It does have ATC for temp ranges between 10-40C. I was having a lot of trouble with my manual ones this year for some reason, so I wanted to check how accurate my readings were without breaking the bank on one specifically geared towards honey when I thought this one would do the job (it was on a list for best refractometers for honey despite only have Brix measurements, oddly enough).

2. Since I live in a neighborhood, there's a large variety of plants they get their nectar from. Last year's honey was also drier last couple of years than this year in general - then again, we've had a lot more hot/humid stretches of weather this year over past ones too.

3. Answered above, I think. Though admittedly, I think I might not have waited long enough to take my readings, though the results did pretty much line up with what I thought the manual ones gave me if that's worth anything. I'm a bit impatient and dumb, haha.

4. The battery was new (came with the instrument).

5. I'm extremely small-time (2 and a half hives - bit of a story on that one), and only pulling from my two langstroths, so there's not really enough to warrant dealing with 5-gallon buckets - it gets crush-and-strained and then poured right into jars (some with cut comb, but more without). I'm going to take the suggestion of putting the open jars with cheesecloth over top of them and leave them into a room with a dehumidifier for a few days and see how that pans out. We might even put it in larger containers so there's more surface area to help dry it out.

One thing's for certain, this year has been a lot more work than last year.
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I haver a refractometer that I thinkis excllent. The meter does respond the the moisture content of the air. For example I filled one bottle of honey from a Maxant tank. It read 17.8%. I then cleaned the surface of the meter and the next jar and all others read 17.2%. This always happens. I believe the first reading is more responsive to room humidity.
One thing not mentioned yet, that should be, is calibration.
You can use extra virgin olive oil to check your scale since it has to be in a standard Brix range.
Folks are assuming you have done that seems to be the case.
The other comments about temp and sugar variety all come into play.
Omega - THe instruement clearly states a "Brix" scale which is based on sucrose being the sugar. THe US National Standard is sucrose. Glucose and Fructose do nto refact exactly like sucrose does.. I correct my BRIX scale at RT (68F) by subtracting 1.5 %. Percent free water in honey = (100% - Brix reading) - 1.5%*. * means at 68F room, instruement and honey temperature. I hope this helps. You can correct for various temperatures with a table that is usually provided with the instrument. Make sure it is the instruement is actively temperature compensating - it seems so via the pic and the little bowel but the instructions should say so and ask you to wait a certian amount of time.

Bottom line - your appears to be good - I think. :D
I believe the MISCO website can help you out with technical information.
John - yep, I've been calibrating it every day that I've gone to use it. They included a little bottle of distilled water and pipettes for the purpose, and is considered zero'd out at 0.1 :)

Robert - I knew it only provides Brix readings, but figured there were conversions to be had since it was on a recommended list for refractomers for honey ;-) The chart linked above by Kelly has my honey being a bit wet at 77. The wasn't a conversion chart included at all, so this is the one I'll probably need to use going forward.

I think once I get the hang of this thing it'll make things easier. It's just getting to that point that's the adventure lol.
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