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How to measure the honey quality? (Freshman)


I am learning about the honey so maybe this question looks so ridiculous! But indeed, I need to know!
Thanks in advance!


You can measure the water content with a refractometers. They are available at ebay in a very wide price range. In Germany, you can send samples of your honey to be testet. We even have honey competitions.


I don’t have a refractometer but there are several methods to test water content without one: Not sure how good they are, but if someone with a refractometer could verify these checks with Honey that is Ripe it would be useful

  • A trick where rub some honey between your thumb and index finger and if you can “string” it past 1/2" inch then is likely to be ready. If your honey is high moisture, the “string” will break.

  • A single, solid shake of the frame if it rains, it’s not ready. If it’s 75% capped, you give it that shake, if nothing comes out and it all stays in it’s cells, it’s done. Otherwise, just wait until it’s all capped, if it’s capped, it’s done.

  • Apparently Bees won’t cap comb until it’s down around 16% or lower

  • Honey of the correct moisture tends to Bead as a drop not flatten and run


Refractometer is the only sure way.
Some thixotropic honey, heather for sure, is capped at over 20%. I don’t know about Jellybush or Manuka.
They are as cheap as chips from eBay.


I dont know how to use the refractometer!
I just test the quality by tasting and keep it in the ice box of refrigerator! If honey gets frozen, that is bad and opposite.


Order a HONEY refractometer. The wine making ones do not have the correct range.
They come ready calibrated. Lift up the lid place a drop of honey to cover the lens. Hold up to the light and look through the other end.

You will see a scale with a line where the colour changes from clear to blue. Make sure that line is at less than 18%


How to figure out the best honey?
For ex: 1 liter of honey contains how much percentage of water and sugar?
One more question, it s about sugar! By keeping the bee naturally, is it necessary for feeding more in unblooming season by eating sugar? By that way, it will affect to the honey quality. Are there any other solution for that case?


Tasting honey only tells you how it tastes, it doesn’t tell you about true quality. As Dee says, you have to use a refractometer to be sure that it is ripe honey. Putting it in the fridge makes it crystallize - that is not bad honey, it is just what honey does if you keep it cold for some time.

I don’t know what you mean by keeping bees naturally. If you mean that you never take their honey, then you will probably never need to feed them once they are established. If you only take excess honey from them, you might never need to feed them either. The problem is knowing how much honey you can take. Your local beekeepers should know how much honey you need to leave for them when the “blooming season” is over. For my region, it is about 40 lb, but some areas need 80 lb or more.

It depends on the type of flower that the bees used to make the honey. But for most types of honey, it is best if it is 18% water or less. So 1 liter of honey would be 180 ml of water and the rest sugars (fructose, glucose and some sucrose) plus pollen, enzymes and vitamins.

If you have a collecting super on the hive for taking honey from the bees, you should never feed them. If the bees need sugar syrup feed, you should NOT be taking honey from them.


Hi, last year I had two frames uncapped with 21% of water, I harvested the whole hive and the honey was still good 8 months after.
I think, it’s depend of what you want to do with honey, if you sell it, of course you have to reach 18% or less but if it is for personal consumption you can go over it (not over 21%!)
Sorry for my English.


Hiro, your English is amazing! From your name, I guess that Japanese is your first language?

Your point is well-made though. With water above 18%, there is a risk of the honey fermenting. That doesn’t apply to the thixotropic honeys or to OSR honey, that I am aware of, but I am sure that others know better. There are some rules in some countries that if the water content is greater than a certain percentage, you have to call it a different name, like bakers’ honey and some other variations.

But I totally agree with you, if you are selling it, it should be from mostly capped comb, and if extracted, you would be wise to test the water content to be sure.


Thanks Mrs Dawn so much!
I learnt more informations from the local honey keeper in Vietnam. It’s exactly what you say.
About keep honey naturally, I have no experience for that. Now I got it. By nature, it’s just talk about the forest honey. Our honeybee is nourishing honey, so we make the hive and feed them when lacking of honey.


Hi Mr Hiro,
You built the honey hive for your own using or selling?
How about Japanese honey technique what you are applying for producing honey?
Specifically, what kind of bee house you build and how many frames you put in the hive?
Thanks in advance!


Hi Phuc Wong, There’s a misunderstood, I’m not japanese, I’m from Tahiti.

I built the honey hive for personal use only. I use Langstroth hives with 10 frames.

I had the measures from this french site but I think everybody can use it, it’s very usefull : http://grandzebu.net/nature/ruches/ruches.htm


Ah les ruches, j’aime beaucoup les ruches et les abeilles! :smile:


Thanks Hiro!
Langstroth hive with 10 frames likes our local beekeeper using!


Hi there everyone,

The only thing that you should pay attention is that the refractometer should be of this kind:

  • Refractometer 58-90% Brix scale

like this one on amazon.de

or this one on amazon.com

You should pay attention on calibrating it like they do (at minute 5:55):

Another thing that I learned is this:

  • The reading is on the right column (of 3 columns);

  • If the moisture/humidity level of the honey (The moisture content of honey must be about 16-18.5%. If the moisture is higher, the honey will ferment. If it is lower, the honey will crystallize.):

    1. It cristalize when it <16%
    2. Between 16-18.5% <= it’s the best one! :ok_hand:
    3. It ferment when it >18.5%

A hug from Portugal!