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Extracted 2 med. supers yesterday. All frames were 100% capped. This is the second time ive extracted this year and this batch is a lot more runny than the first batch. It is also darker. And i haven't had to feed these hives any sugar syrup. Unfortunately i don't have a refractometer. Are some honey's more runny than others?
 

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Are some honey's more runny than others?
On the other end of the spectrum is manuka honey. It is so thick that it can’t be extracted using a conventional centrifugal extractor. Ask Oldtimer.
There’s a pretty wide variation in the viscosity of honeys.
 

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Extracted 2 med. supers yesterday. All frames were 100% capped. This is the second time ive extracted this year and this batch is a lot more runny than the first batch. It is also darker. And i haven't had to feed these hives any sugar syrup. Unfortunately i don't have a refractometer. Are some honey's more runny than others?
Capped means - ready.
No IFs or BUTs.
It is ready (meaning - this particular honey is ready).

Refractometer is only useful when you want to extract uncapped honey (because you can not ask the bees the same questions in human words).
Refractometer just gives you the #.
You then interpret the # using some average, good practice guideline to decide - ready or not (it is a sledge-hammer approach, but usually works).
Us humans are not capable to decipher exact properties of the exact honey we are looking at (the ready # will be different per the particular honey).
 

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Could a neighbor be a cause? What if the neighbor is feeding his bees syrup?

(I don't think it being messy with lots of flooding could make the flowers and plants have too much water in the nectar right?)
 

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It must depend on location. I extracted last Sunday because I needed product (honey) and had many just partially capped frames. Moisture 16.6%. I have never been above 17%. I tested a jar of Manuka from beautiful NZ and it was 20.2%, I guess water is cheaper then honey.

Please go and order a refractometer, more then worth the money.
 

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Just for clarification, USDA says Grade A Honey moisture content must be 18.6 or below, moisture content above 20% is Substandard.

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Extracted_Honey_Standard[1].pdf
USDA operates in the land of means and medians (they have to since they have to simplify a million of possibilities to a single number - and then issue a policy based on this number).
The real world operates differently (because how it is).

As long you don't sell honey in any significant scale, you don't care.
Bees, meanwhile, don't lie; they don't know how.
If they say it is ready - it is ready.
 

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Mine sucked to extract last year. It was capped and was at somewhere between 12 and 13% moisture content, I am not sure if this is from putting the suppers in the fridge for a few weeks until I could borrow an extractor or my bees making really dry honey. I got a cheap refractrometer because I was curious and it confirmed it was dry like I thought. I think almost everything I extracted last year was capped.

2018 honey moisture.jpg
 

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Keep in mind that even if your honey is capped, it can pick up a lot of moisture before it is bottled. I had some runny honey this spring, but it came in at 17% when I extracted it. It sat in a bucket for a couple of days in the garage to allow clearing of bubbles and rising of wax. I re-tested it when I went to bottle it and it was 18.5%,so I had to de-humidify it. Honey that was harvested at the same time that was thicker was tested at 16.5% and at 17% before I bottled it. Not much experience, but I will pay special attention to runny honey. J
 

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Keep in mind that even if your honey is capped, it can pick up a lot of moisture before it is bottled. I had some runny honey this spring, but it came in at 17% when I extracted it. It sat in a bucket for a couple of days in the garage to allow clearing of bubbles and rising of wax. I re-tested it when I went to bottle it and it was 18.5%,so I had to de-humidify it. Honey that was harvested at the same time that was thicker was tested at 16.5% and at 17% before I bottled it. Not much experience, but I will pay special attention to runny honey. J
Did the bucket have a lid on it? How do you dehumidify it If it’s already extracted in a bucket?
 

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I always dehumidifiy when my honey is already in buckets. I place buckets in a small room, slide covers backabout 50%, and turn on a dehumidifier. Works every time.
Did the bucket have a lid on it? How do you dehumidify it If it’s already extracted in a bucket?
 

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Yes, buckets had lids on them, but only about half full. I put them in my bathtub with a small dehumidifier and fan blowing over the buckets. It did the trick. J
 

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You can get some quirky readings if you just take a surface reading. It certainly is true that open honey can pick up moisture if it is in high humidity air. If you take a surface reading it might seem worse than it would if you stirred the pail. Hone is too thick to easily circulate plus higher humidity honey is less dense; that will tend to give a floating layer of higher moisture honey at the surface.

I extracted some a while ago that was 75% or less capped ; could not find my refractometer but it passed the shake test and I knew the bees had had plenty of time to fan it down. Tested it yesterday and it was 17.5% moisture. I have had it show 18% moisture even though it was 75% capped or better. The refractometer gives peace of mind.
 

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Hey Frank. You are correct that you should stir the honey before taking a reading. Before I test mine, I stir it with a big paint stick. I also stir it a few times a day when trying to dehumidify it. I should add that the humidity this summer has been like living in the Tropics so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised it picked up water. J
 

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I failed to mention that after the moisture content is down I pour it into a Maxant bottling tank that is heated. My experience is that the heat in the tank possibly reduces the moisture content even further. When filling jars I always test the first few jars for moisture with a refractometer. It has been mentioned that testing the buckets from only the top of the bucket may not give an accurate reading but it works for me. It is always possible to stir the bucket before testing.
I always dehumidifiy when my honey is already in buckets. I place buckets in a small room, slide covers backabout 50%, and turn on a dehumidifier. Works every time.
 

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Capped means - ready.
No IFs or BUTs.
It is ready (meaning - this particular honey is ready).

Refractometer is only useful when you want to extract uncapped honey (because you can not ask the bees the same questions in human words).
Refractometer just gives you the #.
You then interpret the # using some average, good practice guideline to decide - ready or not (it is a sledge-hammer approach, but usually works).
Us humans are not capable to decipher exact properties of the exact honey we are looking at (the ready # will be different per the particular honey).
The determining factor of whether honey is ready to extract is moisture content. Honey above 18.6% moisture is in danger of fermenting because of the natural yeasts in
honey. The higher the moisture above 18.6, the sooner it may ferment. While it's a good rule of thumb to assume honey is ready to extract if capped or mostly capped, it's not
a guarantee of moisture being in an acceptable range. It was a big surprise for me when I purchased a refractometer years ago and discovered it wasn't unusual to sometimes have capped honey test high
in moisture and uncapped honey test low. Beeswax cappings are permeable and allow moist air to pass both ways. That's why it's possible to pull moisture from capped honey using a dehumidifier.

While it's true that viscosity of honey may vary some depending on floral source, the 18.6 threshold still applies. I prefer that mine is somewhere between 17.0 & 18.0 just to be extra cautious.
Your honey may be fine, but I would suspect high moisture if it seems really thin and runny. Most local bee clubs have someone with a refractometer willing to test honey for moisture content.
 

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I recently pulled some frames that I thought were going to be fully capped after seeing them 50% capped the week before. When they weren’t I took them anyway an ordered a refractometer. The uncapped cells were 19.5%. I kept the box of frames in my air conditioned house for 4 days with a fan blowing across the box for a day and half. Happy to report the uncapped honey is now 17.4%. it’s been real humid here so perhaps the bees are having a hard time drying all frames. Having a refractometer allows you to test and then retest after you dry them out at home. They’re only $25 on Amazon. Well worth the money. This weekend I may pull many more frames that are only 50% capped knowing that I can dry them at home. We are in a slight dearth so the last thing I want is them eating it or the hive getting robbed.
 
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