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Thin low viscous honey


My shallow honey super was nearly full and I did the crush technique. 3-4 frames were fully capped, one was nearly empty (left it alone) and 3 were partially filled but only took from the capped cells. It was on the dining room table for a week in a plastic bag. It’s a beautiful amber color with a good taste but the consistency of heated pancake syrup. What gives? Can’t afford a water tester but am sure it is too runny. What should I do? Hope I’m allowed to do this but not here often my email is jamesmannheim@yahoo.com.


you can freeze it (it won’t actually go solid but will remain a liquid) then you can take some out- eat it, feed it back to the bees- make mead from it and rest won’t ferment. The water testers are actually quite cheap on eBay- only around $20 and good to have.


If you maintain water heavy honey at room temperatures it will in time ferment into the ancient alcoholic drink called mead. If you refrigerate it it will probably stay usable as honey. Sounds very much like you harvested unripe honey.
A refractometer can be bought on EBay and is so cheap you should already have one, it is the only way to know what you have in the jar !!!


Thanks for the suggestion. I just don’t understand why fully capped honey would be watery.


Thanks for the help. How does fully capped honey become watery?


Its related to the nectar source, I am sure some else here maybe able to tell you about glucose, fructose and sucrose ratios that make up the viscosity of honey. I live near the ocean and my honey is always runny, however the water content is fine and it does not ferment…


Hi Wes, I notice your (edit:) average maximum temperatures in Savannah this time of year are a hot 34 c.
so if the honey is not in an air conditioned room it would be very warm and have reduced viscosity so perhaps that might be a factor?


as Rodderick said- it may be that your honey is actually OK- my mothers hive is also coastal and her honey tends to me more runny than mine- but it tests out between 16 and 18% water content and keeps well. The only way to be sure is to test it with a refractometer.


How does this sound as an explanation. In wet weather the bees cap honey so that it doesn’t soak up moisture from the humidity, after all honey is hydroscopic. That means it will soak up any moisture. When the weather clears up the bees will uncap it and continue to ripen the honey.
Another reason to have a refractometer so you will know if the honey is ripe or not, it eliminates the guess work. I regard it as being as important as the hive tool.
If you are suffering hot weather that will also make the honey thinner even straight from the hive.


I’m intrigued as a newbeek in your answer. That option never occurred to me but this new shallow super was out on in the height of the rainy season. Would be interesting if that is what happened. I just thought if you harvo all finished capped cells the honey was ready.


I have always had the opinion that the bees don’t cap the honey until it is ripe. If we extract only capped honey it should be ripe, regardless of the viscosity. Just make sure you extract the honey & get it into airtight containers as fast as possible, especially during periods of high humidity.

You can do a simple water test where you drop honey into water. If the honey disperses into the water, it’s unripe. If it doesn’t disperse into the water, it’s ripe.


I was basing that thought on where I once lived that often had rain consistently for around 10 days culminating in floods in the valley. I note @JeffH 's thoughts and he may be correct. Back then a refractometer was not available. I totally agree with Jeff saying if the cells are capped the honey is ripe. Ants for example can tell when a prolonged wet period is about to begin and can be seen with their extra activity about their nest. Maybe others in a chronic wet area and can put in their 2cents worth.


Hi Jeff,

I haven’t personally experienced it but have read that in really humid conditions, capped honey can be a bit wet. I am not sure how humid it would need to be but there is plenty of humidity where Wes is as I understand it.


I found this earlier post for instance from Michael Bush in the US.


Hi Dan, we get lots of wet humid conditions around here at times. I do get honey with a low viscosity during those periods, however in 30 years, I have never received any negative feedback about honey fermenting.

During times of high humidity, it is essential to make sure the honey is fully capped before harvest. Then get it into airtight containers as quickly as possible.

Another tip would be to make sure the honey occupies the majority of the space in whatever container we’re putting it into. You wouldn’t put a kilo of honey in a bucket that can hold 30 kilos for example.