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How many days should it be rain free When pulling honey supers

1538 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Ravenseye
We have had a wet summer with lots of rain. The flow should be about over in our area and I would like to pull my honey supers. Does the wet weather affect the moisture content of the honey? Do I need to wait for dry weather to pull my honey supers? How many days in a row should it be rain free so that the moisture content of the honey will be about right without having to put it in a room with a dehumidifier?
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If you are worried about the moisture content I would order a refractory and measure it. If you break open a few cells and measure it you can get an idea of where the hive is probably at since I don't think it will change drastically from frame to frame if everythign is capped. If you have uncapped cells they probally have a higher moisture content.

I have this one and it read about right on oil, so I assume it is about right on honey.

p.s. really dry honey sucks to extract and work with. I had to deal with this last year. Text Light Lighting Font Sky
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Here's a good thread on the topic of moisture in honey vs. moisture in the air (relative humidity).
This issue is one which throws _many_ students in their chemistry/physics classes. It deals with what is called equilibrium. Squarepeg mentioned one core observation: at less than 100% relative humidity, things like wet towels dry out. Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air divided by the maximum it could be between drops in fog...relative to how much water there could potentially be until it sticks to itself and drops out as rain or cloud. The actual proportion of water in honey at equilibrium with air of some relative humidity does not follow a 1:1 numerical relationship. Otherwise at 60% relative humidity (a relatively dry-feeling atmosphere) your towel would be 60% water. Soggy, and counter to your known experience. A 10% relative humidity arid-arid-arid environment would not give your towel 10% water.

Honey exposed to air has a certain affinity for water. So does your towel. Neither has an outstandingly high affinity for it. A drop of water on a clean surface will totally evaporate and leave a dry surface behind in a 60% relative humidity atmosphere. Honey will keep 18% or so water content, according to Squarepeg's quoted value. But try some Calcium Chloride, and it will suck the water out of the air and liquify itself ("deliquescence;" if you look you can see the "liq"uid in the word). The water vapor "sticks" to the Calcium Chloride, and eventually enough stays behind to dissolve an initially dry pile of the material. Different materials have different affinities for water. If you put a pile of Calcium Chloride in the same room with some honey, it will suck the water out of the air, and as that dry air circulates near the honey, it will let some of the water evaporate out of the honey. The equilibrium content is a balance between what evaporates from the honey into the air and what sticks to the honey when it's bouncing around between air molecules and happens to hit the honey. If there's not a lot of water in the air, what leaves the honey won't return.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. The bigger issue is harvesting uncapped honey. Sometimes uncapped is just fine. Often, it is not. And it's not always easy "drying" honey that is high in water content. For me, I harvest when my schedule permits and I can't worry much about the weather. Never had a problem unless I took a chance on a bunch of half capped frames.
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