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Crystalizing honey


#1

Has anyone had problems with honey crystalizing in the flow supers? I live in Washington state and thinking this could happen with the plastics and our unpredictable weather. Also, if the honey did crystalize would soaking the supers in warm water get it out or possibly damage the unit? Any thoughts? I’m a newbie and awaiting my flow hive. Just getting all info possible.


#2

Interesting question, but given the short history of this technology, I doubt that there is that much experience out there. To my knowledge, there are only a few major factors which cause honey to crystallize.

The first is in the nature of the nectar. For example, rape seed oil (RSO) nectar is famous for crystallizing fast. But fast means 2-6 weeks. So if you look for capped frames, and drain them ASAP, that shouldn’t be an issue. If you don’t have canola/rape seed planted near you, it won’t be a factor.

The second is temperature. The colder honey gets, the more likely it is to crystallize. In the northern hemisphere, at your kind of latitude, the honey flow season is usually April to June. If the frames are all capped by July, and you drain them by July or August, temperature shouldn’t be an issue.

The last (to my limited knowledge) is evaporation. The more concentrated honey gets in the frames, the more likely it is to crystallize. Another reason to harvest as soon as it is capped.

If it does crystallize in the frames, I guess you have a couple of options. One is to leave the frames for the bees to harvest over winter, if it isn’t too cold for them to get to the frames - they won’t want to leave the warmth of the cluster for long. Another is to soak them in water hot enough to melt the caps and dissolve the honey out. Then what to do with it is a problem. If not too dilute, I might feed it back to the bees - autumn feed might be 2:1 sugar to water, so if you have somebody who can measure the water content for you, if it is around 33%, you are OK. If it is more dilute, but earlier in the year and you have a nectar dearth, you might try feeding it to any weak hives.

I think we are walking on new ground here though, so I look forward to a lot more postings on this subject.

Dawn


#3

No need for soaking or leaving on the hive.
You have to make yourself a honey warming cabinet.
Warm the frames at 40˚ for a few days and the honey will melt and you can drain it out.
Just google home made honey warmer…there are thousands of plans.
They are useful for melting honey crystallised in the jar too.


#4

Thanks for the replies. I think my first season will be a testing board for the flow hive here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m hoping to find more Flow Hive owners around my area that I will be able to communicate with. Please feel free to contact me if you might be one of these Flow Hive users near me. (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Northern California.) Hopefully the Flow hive will be on my door step in April.


#5

Smart idea. I suppose I am a bit too strict about the concept of “processing” raw honey. I suppose I could still label it honey if it had been warmed, but raw? Hmm, tough. On the other hand, some countries have 40C weather for days at a time, and I bet they have bees. I am just too much of a purist sometimes - I have many faults, this is just one of them, goes along with my OCD tendencies… :blush:


#6

Well, we have a lot of OSR in the UK and in some parts that is the entire crop for some.
OSR honey will set rock hard so the trick is to let it, then warm gently and seed to make soft set.
What is RAW? Not heated past the temperature inside a hive, 35ish, for any length of time certainly. Not filtered. Containing other things that can come out of a beehive? Isn’t it these things that add to the magic of RAW honey?..Usually it contains a significant amount of pollen and wax,some propolis and even bee bits. One might argue that honey from a flow frame though PURE is not RAW…it won’t contain any wax any propolis and very little if any pollen
You can still achieve honey melting at 35˚ so you can still fulfil the temperature requirements.
RAW means different things to different people.


#7

@Dee it does give food for thought.

So you are saying the pollen will come from the frames when spun or crush and strain?

I had pictured Flow Honey as unfiltered but put the way you have it would be interesting to see how much pollen etc is in the Honey.

Bearing that in mind if there’s no pollen, wax etc in the Honey, then it may not crystalize so readily??

A possibility! We need to get various Flow honey’s tested.

Do you know anyone who does microscopy?

I think Celia Davis has a microscope and will look for diseases if you are worried.

I may get her to look at some of my Honey when it gets going.


#8

Foreign bodies do encourage crystallisation, as you know, but some honeys are much more prone to crystallise and that is to do with the fructose glucose ratio. The lower the ratio the more prone to rapid crystallisation

That’s something I am trying to teach myself


#9

My husband is a pathologist. We have 2 microscopes at home, but I think pollen would be easiest to spot with phase contrast microscopy, and we don’t have one of those at home :wink:
http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/techniques/phasegallery/pollen.html

However, when we get back to the US, he wants to try with the microscopes we do have, so I will let you know what he says.

Dawn


#10

I found this $10 microscope the other day, and thought of @Valli and @Dee.

I just got my 24 x 48" sheet of polycarbonate, so when I have finished cutting it up for my hives, I will see if there is any left over to try this out. I already have some old dead laser pointers from my former academic life, so all I need is the nuts, bolts and wing nuts!


#11

Thanks, Dawn. How neat. You could use it in the field.
I did a lot of microscope work in my first two years at university and occasionally afterwards.
I have an entry level Apex microscope which will give me 400X which is enough for me.
They make a minigrab which is a camera that attaches to the eyepiece then via USB to your computer. It’s very cheap (everything else is ten times the price) requires no driver but is not Mac compatible :frowning:
I have got a cheapo USB camera which is OK to send people snapshots…if say you are unsure of your nosema diagnosis you can get somebody else to have a look instantly without sending them bees.
I’ve just got a pollen identification kit so that I can look at my honey


#12

What a great idea! Love it - must try to find one. :slightly_smiling: