Honey Fizzing Over

Quite a unique report came through, no pictures at this stage but maybe some to share if they have it happen again.

After a recent harvest they took a jar from each Flow Frame to see if they could taste any difference, there was no bad smell and it did not taste sour.

The jars of honey were then combined which resulted in foaming that spilled over the edges.

Why do you think this would occur?

Hi Kieran, despite no bad smell or sour taste, my money is on possibly fermented honey in the channel before harvest. Do you recall our phone conversation after I was given a flow hive, quite a few years ago. 3 of the six frames had fermented honey in the channels, which had to be rinsed out before we harvested the honey.

Last Sept. I tackled removing honey out of 20 f frames for a client who couldn’t get the honey to flow. With every frame that had honey in the channel, that honey was rancid, resulting in those channels needing to be rinsed before tackling the harvest.


I thought it might be a difference in consistency and possibly a runnier honey having the thicker honey poured on top causing air bubbles as they runny honey came to the surface.

It was described as fizzing over almost like a chemical reaction.

There are 4 more jars so hopefully we get a video or a picture of it in action.

I get a wet wipe and fasten it to the end of the Flow Key with an elastic band to clean out the honey trough. That residue can get nasty. Ill check if she noticed any build up.

Its been a lot of phone calls since, but I do remember something along those lines. 20 is a lot hope they all came good for a harvest. Were they left a while in between inspections/harvests?

Hi Kieran, I was the bloke who directed you to the photo of the honey leaking through the ruptured cappings. My theory was & still is that wet caps would be more susceptible to rupturing on account of surface tension of the wax cap on the honey. As you can appreciate, there would be no effect on dry caps, on account that no honey would be touching the caps, thus no surface tension issues.

I like your honesty in saying “That residue can get nasty”. We found that it took a lot of rinsing to remove the odor.

It had been a while between inspections, about 9 months. Plus they went through winter, resulting in some crystallizing. Admittedly 14 of the frames were fakes, however the outcome was the same throughout…

What I did to get the honey to flow was use 2 keys & hold them in the open position, which slowly forced the frames to open. Them after about 5 minutes I could remove the keys to start the next frame & so on. Sometimes the frames would remain open, other times they would close again. I fiddled around with them for 2 days to eventually yield 41.5 kilos for the client. I strained it all through my fine strainer to remove a lot of wax moth debris that flowed with the honey from the channels that had no honey in them, not to mention ants that also flowed out of the channels & key ways that didn’t have caps replaced.

The bloke got me to go down to see why he wasn’t getting honey, despite activity at the entrances. He forgot to mention one small detail, the fact that one of the hives was on it’s back, on the ground. I also found all the back panels on the ground. Maybe a bee chased him, resulting in him giving up on replacing them, as well as some of the caps.

Just a quick update here are some pictures.


24 hours later

It doesnt appear to be fermented, although I personally havent had any harvest ferment, nor have I seen fermented honey in person.

A pic online shows something more like this.

Im wondering if maybe it is high water content in a portion of the harvest and this is what is coming to the surface possibly becoming more reactive as there is a lot of thick honey it is moving through and being broken apart.

As sugar content binds to others sugars, this is then just leaving moisture on the surface?

Maybe it is something the bees have been foraging from, perhaps robbing fermented honey from a failing feral hive or the bees have been visiting a sugar water feeder that someone might have in the area?

If I understand what you’re describing correctly, when the honey crystallizes it does exclude some free water which can increase the water percentage of the remaining uncrystallized honey and allow it to ferment.

This also happens in maple syrup - the surface can have lower sugar content and grow mold even if the syrup below is ok. In maple syrup you can skim the mold and re-boil the syrup but that’s not an option with honey.

The picture you showed looks to be fermenting honey, to me. Regardless of where the fungal spores came from (they’re always in honey, along with C. Botulinum and other nasties) the reason for the spoiling isn’t the presence of the organisms but the conditions being conducive to growth and metabolism of the sugar.


It doesnt appear the honey is crystallising, keep in mind I dont have this honey in my possession it is a person who wishes to remain anonymous, they harvested in lat January and noticed the bubbling when combing jars of honey in Mid February.

The cloudy picture of honey is an example of honey starting to ferment I found online.

The first two pictures show a before and after those bubbles are foaming up more over time. Fizzing over the edges of the jar, interesting the bubbles were not present before mixing the honey together from different jars.

My thought was different moisture levels in the honey and they are immiscible as a result.

Interesting details on fermentation thank you. There was also no sour taste or smell found with the honey, just the bubbles.

Where are the extra bubbles coming from if not being produced (from fermentation) in the honey?

1 Like

I will check in with them and see where the bubbles are at now. The impression I was given was they settle and are only present when pouring the honey. Aeration within honey causes a bubbles that dissipate. I will post an update, seems very odd for fermentation to take place so quick - Which is also why I was thinking they are visiting a sugar water feeder, or perhaps even robbed a feral hive/dead out.