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OSR honey and how to deal with it

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RoseCottage 

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So now is the time many of us are beginning to crop our first honey of the year, and for a number of us our first OSR honey.

What is best practice for processing it?

We've been told by a beekeeper friend with many years experience to do the following:

Take it off the hive even before the bees have capped it, so long as it doesn't drip from the frames

Spin immediately to stop it getting cold and crystalising

Leave it to go rock hard in a food grade bucket

Then heat it by standing it in heated water until it softens

Mix in a seed of soft-set honey from Tesco and stir it a while

Let it cool and it will turn soft-set itself

Bottle and enjoy

So is that right?

All the best,
Sam
 

oliver90owner 

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Just about all except mixing honey from Tesco, or anywhere else like that.

Any bought honey that is a blend of foreign honey may contain AFB spores. That would mean your honey would also tainted with the spores. An easy way to spread disease.

Use some honey of which you know the quality. Pasteurisation will not do.

drip from the frames

Do the shake test, dripping is not good enough. Shake the frame over the box and if drops are shaken from the frame, it is not yet ripe enough. Usually part-capped is all OK.

until it softens

Until melted completely. You don't want to leave any coarse crystals in there.

Do not add other honey until the bulk has cooled sufficiently, so as not to melt the fine soft setting crysals you are adding!

It may need more stirring than you are anticipating. Gentle agitation, avoiding air entrainment, is the name of the game.

Don't leave it too long, when signs of setting are evident, before bottling or it will run very slowly!

Regards, RAB
 

Finman 

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I have processed rape crop 40 years. Nothing strange in it.

- It needs a strong hive which is able to handle the honey flow.
- one capped box needs 2-3 other super to dry up the honey.
- the yield per hive is 40-100 kg
- I let the frames capped before I extract them.
- bees need much space to handle the flow. Otherwise they swarm.

Outside the hive the combs will be soon crystallised.
In the hive honey stays liquid better

After exracting its rapid to crystallized. It must be stirred that you get soft honey.

In Finland main yield follows the rape yield and it it will be cappad easily.
 

Finman 

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Some guys make fine crystall seed honey and mix it with liquid honey.
So you get a fine crystall honey which is easy to handle later.

It has been difficult to me when strore room is too warm. One guy revieled his secret.
He puts the honey buckets into a freezer, and set up the temp to 14 C and a timer gives electrict so that temp is proper.
So, system is under optimum control.
 
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You will struggle to melt set honey by standing the bucket in hot water unless you can keep topping up the hot water from a kettle for many hours. You need to heat to about 45C and it will take a long time to melt. I use a warming cabinet made from 50mm thick foil covered insulation from a builders' merchant heated with a 40W bulb. This set up will melt a 30lb bucket in about 24 hours but you must stir it once or twice during this period.

If you only have a little set honey you could try warming and melting it in a microwave, but use low power and take your time taking care not to overheat it. Alternatively, a warm oven if you can keep the temperature down. On no account heat the honey for any length of time above about 50 or 55C.

You can also buy electric heating coils for melting honey which either fit into the bucket or inside the strainer, but they are not cheap.

To make a fine seeding honey take about a pound of your set OSR honey and grind it a bit at a time in a pestle and mortor, grinding each batch until you can no longer feel the crystals scrunching. Add the resultant ground honey to about three pounds of previously melted honey, stirring it in well - the microwave would be ideal for this, but make sure the honey has cooled before you add the seed, otherwise the seed will be melted which will defeat the point of the whole exercise. You then need to keep this mixture cool and the refrigerator would be ideal. If you get things right the mix will set in about 24 hours or perhaps a little longer. You can stir the mix from time to time during this period but this is not essential if you mixed in the seed well at the start.

The result of this process is you end up wth about 4 pounds of fine set honey which you can then add to a larger batch making sure the ratio is not less than 10%. The problem you will probably have is keeping a large batch cool. Ordinary room temperature during the summer is too warm for the best soft set honey as it sets too slowly resulting in large sugar crystals.

My advice would be to leave the set OSR in the bucket until the winter when you should find it easier to find somewhere cool enough for the fast setting required. The optimum temperature is supposed to be 14C but just a few degrees over this will detract from the finished product. I made my best soft set ever this winter in a room where the temperature was around 8C in the evening and 5C the following morning.

There is a dreadful video you can find if you Google "youtube making soft set honey" which covers some of the above process.

In summary, melt the honey, add a fine set seed which you can make yourself and then keep the lot cool while it sets. Things will go wrong if you don't sufficiently melt the honey so there are still large crystals in it or if you can't keep it cool enough.
 

peteinwilts 

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has anyone had a successfull OSR honey crop this year??

two swarms on one hive... lots of wet stores in the brood box, but have been ignoring the supers completely.

Have deployed another two hives to try and squeeze some out before it is over :-(
 

rich 

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just finished spinning out 120lbs off two hives of OSR, I'm quite happy with that ...... as a start :)

Rich
 

plumberman 

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154 lbs off three hives ( I'm assuming its OSR ). Run out of jars and labels and not liking honey very much at the moment.
 

oliver90owner 

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Not a stupid question at all.

WBCs (mainly) so would need, say 3 on each hive. Still some left on. Guessing that colonies are at least on brood and a half or double.

I await plumberman's answer!

Regards, RAB
 

plumberman 

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2 WBC's on double brood and two supers, one National on brood and a half and two supers.

I've got my own extractor - so remove supers, spin it down and return them back to hive in about 45 minutes. Means I don't need to have as many supers.

Still not convinced that double insulated hives don't have a part to play in our country : they seemed to be out sooner than the National. Other thing I am convinced that helps is celotex insulation over the crownboard- the amount of heat that is trapped underneath is substantial, and I'm sure this helps early brood rearing. All my nucs have similar.
 
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154 lbs off three hives ( I'm assuming its OSR ). Run out of jars and labels and not liking honey very much at the moment.
If you have put OSR honey directly into jars I fear you may end up having to melt it again. OSR honey left to granulate naturally can go very coarse and sometimes it sets like concrete. Some people may like the texture but most won't. I still stick by my original advice, put it into buckets, let it set and then tackle it later, ideally in the cool of the year. If the honey did set with a fine grain you need only gently warm it in the bucket and then bottle it. If it has the consistency of a sandy beach then you need to melt it completely and seed it as explained earlier.
 

SixFooter 

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This may be a silly question, but if you are not directly next to a Rape field, How can you tell if the the honey is from OSR?
 

SixFooter 

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Err....... difficult if you have never tasted it before.
 

plumberman 

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If you have put OSR honey directly into jars I fear you may end up having to melt it again. OSR honey left to granulate naturally can go very coarse and sometimes it sets like concrete. Some people may like the texture but most won't. I still stick by my original advice, put it into buckets, let it set and then tackle it later, ideally in the cool of the year. If the honey did set with a fine grain you need only gently warm it in the bucket and then bottle it. If it has the consistency of a sandy beach then you need to melt it completely and seed it as explained earlier.
You could well be right, but I guess that it depends on just how much rape is present - only time will tell. I did read somewhere that the some of the more modern varieties of rape don't have the same problem, althought this may just be wishful thinking.

All part of the learning curve.........
 

Cazza 

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If you have put OSR honey directly into jars I fear you may end up having to melt it again. OSR honey left to granulate naturally can go very coarse and sometimes it sets like concrete. Some people may like the texture but most won't.

I have no problems at all shifting my OSR honey which goes straight into jars. Clearly people develop a taste for it as they prefer it to anything else I have and tell me it's the best honey they have ever tasted! ( No accounting for taste imo!)
Cazza
 
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This may be a silly question, but if you are not directly next to a Rape field, How can you tell if the the honey is from OSR?
If you see the bees bringing in some pale brown pollen and they are filling supers like there is no tomorrow at this time of year then it is almost certainly OSR. If the honey sets solid in the comb after a short period then you know it was OSR! The only solution if you are unsure is to extract it as the flowers fade, even if the combs are not completely sealed.
 

SixFooter 

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Thanks.

I checked around locally and couldnt see any rape, but then moved a colony to a location where there is Rape nearby. There is nearly a full super on this, but not sure what proportion of it is from OSR.
 

VEG 

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If the bees are near OSR I think you should assume its all OSR as if you leave it, you will end up with rock hard stoes in the combs.
 

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