Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Simple Test to Determine Ripe Honey vs Unripe Honey


This video shows a simple quick test to determine if the honey we are taking is ripe or not. This would be a rough guide for home use only.


Nifty test
I use a cheap Chinese refractometer from eBay


Hi Dee & thanks, that’s the word I was trying to think of to put in my description for a more accurate test.


I have recently come to the conclusion that if you’re going to harvest uncapped honey, it’s best to do it early in the morning rather than late in the afternoon.

When you take the frames early in the morning, the bees have had all night to de-water the honey, therefore the uncapped honey will be closer to ripe than if you took a frame with uncapped honey late in the day, chances are the honey that is uncapped could be fresh in & hold a lot more water.

That’s been my recent observations.


I’m not going to disagree, I will give an opinion.

I’ve only harvested my honey in late afternoon/evening. And it’s all virtually been uncapped when I’ve harvested. I did test it each time with a refractometer to see its moisture content and it was okay 18% or less the 1st time the 2nd time all of it was below 17.5.

I would not think of a few hours would have an effect on moisture content of the honey. If anything I would think there is more moisture in the air overnight and into the morning making it more difficult to remove any moisture from the cells. And there would be less moisture in the air toward the evening. Again I don’t think a few hours makes that big of a difference. I certainly will be looking for a few others to comment for this is very interesting to me.


There’s a lot more goes on inside a hive than we give credit for. During a honey flow, the bees are bringing it in thick & fast, they put it wherever they can. During the night, the bees don’t sleep, they are constantly working at rearranging & dewatering the honey, feeding the brood, comb building, house cleaning, etc. etc. This is why I came to the conclusion that any uncapped honey during the afternoon (during a honey flow) could be honey that is fresh in & therefore needs to be further dewatered. You would be surprised at the difference between dusk & dawn in a full strength fully operational beehive. More than just a “few hours”.

I find if I do the shake test as Dexter’s Shed describes on frames that are not capped during the afternoon, sometimes I’ll get wet honey come out. I have done the same shake test during early mornings & so far haven’t had any wet honey come out. This has only been over the last 2 months. As I said before, this is only a recent observation of mine.


I think this is a great theory and worth investigating further. I find that my yard has a much stronger smell of honey in the evening (well past dark) which I felt was for similar reasons… ie. bees are fanning / removing moisture from the honey collected that day which results in a strong honey smell leaving the hive in ‘exhaust’ air.


Hi Sam, I’m desperate for honey at the moment so I’m doing a lot of frame shaking & taking what I can. This time last year, I was in the middle of a decent honey flow. It’s much the opposite right now. Not much coming in at all. It made me think a bit more about honey being capped or not capped. More to the point, ‘ripe honey uncapped’. Then I started to think how bees use honey to make wax. Maybe the bees are conserving the honey & holding back on making the wax cappings until such time as honey becomes more plentiful.


It’s not really a few hours, it’s closer to 10 hours where I am (from time they stop flying at night until they resume in the morning). 10 hours of sustained evaporation (best case) would surely modify/reduce moisture content significantly.

Would be great to test a wide sample of frames in the same hive with a refractometer late in the afternoon and early morning to see if there is a measurable difference. Would be best to test when there is a decent flow on with lots of new nectar coming in.


After reading these couple of post and processing it mentally, I absolutely would tend to agree you’ve got something here :slight_smile:

Still just a new beekeeper and trying to process it all. I look at my observation window and the rear of the hive i.e. flow frames daily when the flow frames are on. For my hive is on the side of my house and I go and sit next to it after work and have a glass of tea each day.

I would get excited when I see the girls filling up the cells at the end. And then get bothered, the next day when that be nothing there, for they’ve moved it around.

I will definitely keep this in mind next time I go to harvest.


Thank you so much for this Video, very valuable information.:slight_smile: