Capped Honey and Moisture Content

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RoofTops 

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You will often read or hear said that if the honey is capped it is safe to extract. This is not always true and can be another trap for the unwary.

I heard recently from a friend who had found capped honey with a moisture content of over 21% and some uncapped honey with a content of 19%. The high moisture content of the capped honey was odd and I would probably have been inclined to think he had made a mistake except this weekend I came across a similar situation myself.

I was running a demonstration of extracting for our local association and the super we were working on was 100% capped. Not a single open cell so it should have been fine for extracting.

After demonstrating uncapping on the first frame I checked the moisture content as a way of demonstrating the use of the refractometer, not expecting to find anything odd. The first reading taken was 21.5%! We repeated on another sample from the same frame with the same result.

Fortunately, other frames were better, some down to 18.5% but overall the 25 pounds of honey we got from the National super was 19.5% which is pretty marginal in my view given this was a fully capped super.

So the lesson learned was don't assume a capped frame of honey has a moisture content of under 20%, several in this one super were not.

I don't know what the honey was - very light coloured and from mixed farmland and woods.

Has anyone else come across this?
 
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oliver90owner 

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Rooftops,

I think Trading Standards have possibly higher values than that as absolute maximums as honey from some sources will remain stable (not ferment at those moistures). I, like you, would not want to risk it unless I knew I was dealing with a specialised honey.

Regards, RAB
 

darrenperrett 

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There was something about high water content in this months Beecraft magazine.
"All capped honey is said to have a safe water content and this is probably true unless you live in western Britain and it has been a cool, wet summer. Under these conditions, capped honey may contain as much as 19% (or even 19.5%) water and in this state will not be suitable for long term storage"

I took some off a month ago and that was 18%. I`ll check each batch as i go.

Darren.
 

RoofTops 

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"Not suitable for long tem storage". I agree and have advised the owner of the honey to put it in the freezer, wrapped in poly bags, after he has bottled it. This should help it last longer.
 

Poly Hive 

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What percentage of water do you think is safe to bottle?

PH
 

RoofTops 

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What percentage of water do you think is safe to bottle?

PH
Well I supppse that is really the nub of this issue. I've lost buckets of OSR to fermentation. When liquid it was below 20% (just) but of course when it sets the remaining liquid has a higher moisture content so is prone to fermentatation.

As a rule I would like to see below 19% and have used a dehumidifier to "dry" buckets in the past. It takes a few days to a week but you can reduce it by a couple of percent.
 

Poly Hive 

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FWIW here is my take.

Legally, and I may be out of date on this, blossom should be 21% or lower and heather 23% or lower.

I have bottled at those levels and never ever encountered fermentation issues of any sort size or shape. However I sold my blossom and heather as creamed.

So. What are you doing that is creating the problem? Do you cream your OSR? Are you confident that your quoted moisture figures are accurate?

PH
 

Black Comb 

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My May/June farmland/woodland honey is light and delicate and was fully capped.

It's showing 19.5%

Not a problem as I didn't get enough to sell - only enough to give a bottle each to those on "the list" and keep a few for myself.
 

victor meldrew 

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My May/June farmland/woodland honey is light and delicate and was fully capped.

It's showing 19.5%

Not a problem as I didn't get enough to sell - only enough to give a bottle each to those on "the list" and keep a few for myself.
Borage honey has a higher than average water content ,I'm led to believe !

John Wilkinson
 

admin 

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only enough to give a bottle each to those on "the list" and keep a few for myself.
AH yes the list !!

Mine seems to grow by over 10% per year,I realise that you should not be giving all your honey away but I seem to get so many favours and help during the year that I cant stop it growing.
 

Poly Hive 

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Very kind of you Mark, can I have the same as last year please??

LOL

PH
 

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