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Fully capped honey fermenting

Hello, I have a question regarding the flow frames. our super is absolutely chockers full of honey and 1 month ago we harvest 2 frames. 2 weeks later the honey smelled fermented and had gone off which led us to believe that the frames must not have all been fully capped. This time we pulled out each frame in the super and checked and every single cell had been capped on every frame. So again we harvested 2 frames and the exact same thing has happened. Last year we did not have this problem and our hive seems to be thriving well, lots of activity, enough room, not a SHB in site. Can you think of why we might be experiencing this?
The honey is also very runny compared to the honey we still have from last years Feburary harvest. Makes me think the moisture content is still high, I thought this would be the reason it is fermenting so quickly. But why would bees cap the honey before it has reached the right humidity?

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I had some uncapped honey that was thin and I pasteurized it and the water content came down to store safely. I simmered it at 160F for 30 minutes and it got thick. The rest of my honey was find and I jarred it. Mine was an end of year harvest. Perhaps the source of nectar might have been it or sometimes the bees find another apiary who’s feeding sugar water? I wish I knew so please let us know when you figure it out.

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Although not common, capping cells when the contents are unripe does happen. When I suspect this (high ambient moisture conditions), I take out my refractometer and test individual capped cells. I’ve seen moisture levels as high as 20% in capped cells. Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often here and when it does I blend that honey with low moisture honey.

On a normal year here, samples taken from the same frame of capped versus uncapped cells is .5 to 1% difference.

A refractometer is a handy tool and a good one here costs about $135.00…comes with calibrating fluid.

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REfractometers are on Amazon for 29 bucks now! I’m buying one

A word of caution…check the material that the refractometer is made of…the body should be made of metal…lenses glass. There are versions that I’ve seen are plastic and look identical to a good quality one but the moisture readings are all over the place. Here’s what I bought years ago from my bee supply store.

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Good to know! Thanks for the info

Hi & welcome Micky, that’s unusual for honey to ferment 2 weeks after harvest from fully capped frames. It must be something to do with the nectar source the bees are gathering. We use unripe honey (uncapped honey from bur comb) for personal use, rather than sell it. We have never had it ferment on us. I’m sure we keep it in the jars at room temperature for longer than 2 weeks. If we have a surplus, like right now, we freeze it.

After a little while you’ll get to know straight away when honey is possibly unripe because it drips rapidly off the end of a knife. Ripe honey hangs on longer.

This is something for the flow frame experts, I’ve never had this problem with traditional frames in my area in 30 years.

@Michael_Bush might know of a nectar source that behaves like this.

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it is possible to use dehumidifies of some sort to lower the water content. Or- in a pinch you can store it in the freezer and eat as required.

Might be worth investing in a refractometer if this is going to be something that happens to you each season.

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Our refractometer looks identical to yours- but it is a cheap lightweight plastic one. However we have tested it with Olive oil and it seems to be accurate.

http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/refractometercalibration.html

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In some locations due to high humidity the honey is not dry enough even though it’s capped. I am unsure of whether this is due to it being too high WHEN it was capped or if it just absorbs too much moisture after it’s capped. Carl Killion did a lot of research on drying honey while it’s in the comb. If you can dry it while it’s capped, then I assume it will also absorb moisture while it’s capped.

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I missed your thread till I came across it today. My thinking is that March/April it was raining and fairly humid and being at Labrador is humid in the best of times anyhow. Without a refractometer to know the moisture content I would regard all your honey as having a high water content if it is runny. I have had the same thing happen up here on the Sunshine Coast after several days of rain. My hives are only 2 klm’s away from the surf.
I’m suspecting that capping wax can let the honey in the cells breath and so possibly absorb moisture in the air.
@Martha has given sound advice about warming of some of the water off, but I would also invest in a refractometer.
Cheers

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