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Reducing water content in honey


#1

Hi guys and gals. I recently harvested a super and although the cells were capped the water content is 19% which is slightly above the storing pass mark. I’ve since read up and contrary to my understanding, found bees will cap honey comb above the 18% w/c for various reasons, temperature, humidity availability and more.
Red gum is the predominant flower at the moment which was capped fine last year at a respectable 17%, nice and thick. This year the honey is runny but only a couple percent higher, too runny in fact!
I’ve heard about heating the honey to remove moisture by things like light bulbs and seedling heating mats. Or just keeping it in the fridge to halt the fermentation process. Is it even likely to ferment at this w/c?
What is the best way to go? Yes mead is on the cards as I made some bonzer mead last year and need to keep the stocks up now. ;).
Thanks.


#2

@skeggley what were you using to measure the moisture content? Did you calibrate before measuring and allow the device to normalise with the ambient temperature if it came from a air-cond room before calibration? Any chance the calibration could be out? And, did you measure the moisture content from the frame (i.e. a sampling of a few random cells? sampling only one cell? sampling cells common to a small area?) or did you sample the honey from your collection bucket?

If you’ve got stored honey with a lower moisture content what if you blend the two?

@Dee, @Rodderick, @Dawn_SD …any other suggestions?


#3

Blending is fine. Or you can reduce the water content if the honey is in regular frames. I’ve done it. You can use a dehumidifier and a fan in a small room or there are mini machines that you can buy. Commercial guys use state of the art honey driers. If it’s a small amount for personal use jar it and freeze the jars defrosting as needed and refrigerating after opening.


#4

Probably not. I believe that 18.6% water or less is required to label it as honey, with some exceptions such as heather etc. Depending on the accuracy of calibration of your refractometer, it may be below 18.6%. However, as @Dee says, I would just freeze it and use that as my personal or give-away supply.

You certainly can blend it with a lower water content honey, but it takes a lot of stirring to make sure they go together evenly, and I like to keep the honey from each frame as a separate batch.


#5

20% blossom and 23% heather. But that’s Uk :uk: regs


#6

I noticed that Honey measured directly after harvest has a higher water content than that same Honey measured the next day. No idea why exactly. Could be the temperature difference or that the honey had time to rest.
The difference is occasionally near 1%.
A refractometer is calibrated for 20C, which is impossible to achieve around here in summer. You are also supposed to let the honey settle in the refractometer for a minute before reading.
Even crystallized Honey returns to liquid state on a hot day.


#7

Blending will most certainly work. I live on the coast, a thick low moisture honey is non-existent here. Typically about 18-19% and very runny but it never ferments. To combat the runniness I cream it.


#8

I had a about 5kg of 20% honey last year and have been using it as a sweetner in stewed plums, rhubarb and other stewed fruit and is perfect for that. Have just about used it all but it is still fine to taste 13 months later.


#9

Thanks everyone. :+1:
I think I’ll give buying a humidifier a miss. Creaming it is a great idea, thanks Rod. I’ve been looking for some good store bought creamed honey to seed a batch but can’t seem to find any! Sometimes our biosecurity laws that are working so well can come back and bite you on the bum! When the honey has crystallised in the past the crystals are huge, 3-4mm, not desired by my customers.
Blending is an option but like @Dawn_SD I like to keep the flavours separate. This particular honey is like sugar syrup, barely a honey taste. If I didn’t know better I’d say it was sugar syrup… Probably high in sucrose from the marri so should chrystalize well. Yum.
Still, drying out honey backyard style, I’m going to build a thermostat controlled heat box using a globe and have a go with a kilo. What temperature should I be aiming for? 35°c? I’ll likely use fan assist also.
If I left the lid off in the shed the temp during the day exceeds 30°c and lid it of an evening that may also work but with less control. Or will the honey suck up the humidity and foil my plan?
@SnowflakeHoney, I used a refractometer calibrated with olive oil as per @busso’s instructions, temp? Warm but all was at room temp. Did Jeffs trick with the water in the saucepan and although the honey spread out it seemed to hold together. Maybe it just is what it is.
I should be able to weigh out the honey and aim to lose 10 grams in the warming process reducing the w/c to 18%. Yes?


#10

Oh oh. I left a smallish amount of honey in a large bowl covered by only a dish towel recently. That attracted a lot of water over 3 days. Admittedly, we had hot humid days then and the surface was large. Still, I didn’t expect it to attract that much water.


#11

I used a refractometer calibrated with olive oil as per @busso’s instructions, temp? Warm but all was at room temp

@skeggley, I’ve found that if there is a big difference between the temperature you calibrate at and the temperature you measure at you get incorrect results. For example, with an ambient outside temp of about 30degC and a room temp of about 28degC I’ve calibrated inside. I then go outside and put the refractometer down while I inspect the hive…in the sun while I inspect the hive. The temperature of the refractometer obviously increases and the calibration is out (I’ve experienced this first hand - I now always keep the refractometer in the shade after calibration).

…creamed honey to seed a batch…

As for nice creamed honey for you to use as a seed, the Bartholomews down near Denmark has had nice creamed honey in the past, but it’s been a few years since I’ve had any. https://www.honeywine.com.au/product-page/creamed-honey