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Just to show you I haven't started on the mince pies and sherry yet, last night I mixed 5 pounds of soft set honey into about 30 pounds of liquid honey. All the honey had been outside in an unheated storeroom so were very cold, probably about 5C. The soft set seed was solid so I warmed it first in a microwave but they still didn't mix together very well, so I left it all inside overnight intending to give them a good stir this morning.

When I opened up the bucket the whole lot was almost solid - in less than 12 hours. I've now got it in a warming cabinet to soften it up enough to give another stir and then bottle.

So having tried without success in the summer to make soft set honey, doing it in the cold is very easy.
 
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I should have planned ahead - I'm going to be bottling honey tonight - Christmas Eve. Time, tide and setting honey waits for no man.
 

admin 

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I can think of nothing I would rather be doing than bee tasks on xmas eve.
I envy you,Yes I am a sad bugger I know..
 

victor meldrew 

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Admin I'm with you :):).
I'm sat with a horses neck, bees all tucked up fed and treated . Nowt to look forward to cept the old man in the red coats' visit !! Ah! bliss.
:ack2: Boxing day is the acid test (forgive the pun), this is open house at Alderapiary when my extended family descends en bloc:), Mrs Meldrew pretends to complain but loves it really (Spoiling children, grandchildren, great grand children and especially yours' truly ).
Merry Christmas to all XXXXXXXXX.

John Wilkinson
 

jezd 

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I should have planned ahead - I'm going to be bottling honey tonight - Christmas Eve. Time, tide and setting honey waits for no man.
are you going to mix in more soft set to start again?

if not wont you have larger crystals as well as small ones now.
 
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Jezd, I am not sure of exactly how it works, but the small crystals in the seeding honey somehow spreads throughout the rest of the liquid honey as small crystals, so it all ends up as you want. It would seem more logical that the small crystals in the seed just grew into big ones, but that doesn't seem to happen. The key, as has really dawned on me this year, is temperature. If it is too warm, and anything over about 18C is too warm I think, the crystals grow very slowly and into big crystals. At low temperatures, and 14C is supposed to be ideal, the crystals grow much faster, hence my experience last night with 30 pounds of honey virtually setting solid in a shade under 12 hours. I have not seen any graphs but I think that although 14C may be ideal the effect very rapidly decreases above 14C, but below 14C the crystals still grow quite fast - which is why you can apparently set honey in a refrigerator, though I have not tried this yet - 'fridge a bit full at the moment and the outside store room is quite cold enough.

I warmed the bucket today with a 40W bulb and it was runny enough to bottle this evening. I didn't take the temperature but it felt about blood heat or a little lower. It was the colour of Horlicks and only just runny enough to flow. I have put the jars back outside and hopefully they will be set in a day or so.

Just to prove how sad I am I will give an update tomorrow!

Actually, not so sad. My wife is a nurse and is working tonight, so we have delayed Christmas by 12 hours. I will have to find something to do tomorrow morning so as Admin says, why not something bee-related?
 
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Well, here we are on Christmas Day and I'm still banging on about honey. Hopefully my wife will wake up later today, after a hard night caring for the sick and needy of Dartmouth Hospital and we can start Christmas properly. Just in time for Doctor Who.

Here are the results of last night's bottling, complete with experimental shrink wrap anti-tamper band. I did 15 half pounds and 24 pound jars. It has virtually set today after a night at about 9C from the thermometer I left in the store room.

(Yes, I know there are air bubble at the shoulders of the jar, it didn't happen with the one pound jars and yes, the jar needs a wipe on the outside.)

I also did the classic whilst bottling - got destracted for a moment and when I looked back the jar was overflowing and the scales rapidly vanishing under a larva flow of honey. Deep joy. I must buy an automatic bottling machine - just need to find a few thousand pounds.

 

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nice1, merry christmas to all

I think I assumed that because it set so fast they would have been larger crystals - learning here too, I have some soft set to do next week so thanks for the tips

are you saving a few jars for seeding again? what ratio did you use too?

ta

Jez
 

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I've got about 30-401b of clear honey left might have a go at this, does the honey taste any differant.
 

Poly Hive 

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The hex jars are infamous for bubbles in the shoulders and need the honey to be a bit warmer for that reason.

I will have my bottling machine for sale in 2010. Not @ thousands either, and my pump and tank.... pm me.

PH
 

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How did your cut-comb/sections go this year? I seem to recollect you saying that was the way you were going and eschewing the bottling route.

How will you change what you did in 2009 to obtain more consistent sections etc? I've heard that they are not always the easiest things to get filled consistently.

Wishing you and Julie a very Merry first married Christmas together. I hope that you both made it special. (no details required). :)
 

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My cc was very successful thanks until the flow dried off rather suddenly in late June. I produced enough to supply the hotel and have some 20 odd left in the fridge with another two supers to be cut up yet.

Sections are difficult yes and the bees far prefer to work "Ross rounds or Cobana sections" which are of course circular. No awkward corners to leave open or unfilled.

In another life I had several crates of them and used them in a cost effective manner for heather. Whilst they were on the strongest colonies at the heather all the other supers were half drawn comb for extraction, and the other half were marked CC for cut comb and of course the CC sells at a nice premium.
So each Langstroth super gave four combs for extraction (20lb) and potentially 20 lb as cut comb. Oh and I never skimped on the cc foundation either. It just looks better if it's done with whole sheets.

PH
 
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are you saving a few jars for seeding again? what ratio did you use too?

Jez
I usually do manage to keep some back but ended up without any as the last of the fine set was used in the summer and this was the stuff which wouldn't set and when it did the crystals were like rock salt.

To get the seed for this batch I used a pestle and mortar to grind up a pound jar of the stuff with large crystals. It took some time as I could only do about two desert spoonfuls at a time. I then added this to 4 pounds of liquid honey and this was the first lot to set overnight. I didn't have the bulk of the liquid honey ready at that point as I had put the wrong bulb in the warming cabinet. I used a 25W and it needed a 40W to get the honey properly liquid and all the crystal disolved. After liquifying I put it back in the storeroom to cool down as it was too warm and might have melted the seed honey if it had been added at that point.

A couple of days later is where this story starts when I tried to mix the seed and liquid together, not easy when both are sub 10C! But it seems to have worked in the end - unlike I fear my cordless drill which was struggling mixing the viscous liquid and sounds as if it is on the way out.

Moral of story is making soft set honey needs low temperatures. I had watched jars in the summer taking weeks and weeks to do something which in the winter took just a day or so.

The "standard " ratio often heard is 10% but the ratio I used in this lot was 25% with the first batch, one pound into 4 making 5 pounds, then adding that to about 30 pounds of liquid. This larger ratio must have helped to achieve the rapid setting.

The texture of the honey is very good at the moment, with no discernable crystals on the tongue - a bit like butter although harder now it is so cold. I've taken a jar into the house to warm up a bit. Time will tell if the dreaded frosting appears later - when the honey shrinks with further crystalisation.

Chalkie - I suppose set honey in theory tastes the same as the liquid but the texture is so different it is like a different honey. The stuff in the picture is of course OSR, which I collected quite a lot of in the spring. I must get busy and make some more while it remains cool!

I will try for sections again this year. I've got two supers of Bee-O-Pac things which I took to the heather and got nothing, but the bees did at least make a start drawing out the wax. I shall give them back to the bees here in the town in the early sumer, after any OSR has finished in the surrounding fields. I get a nice honey which remains liquid for a long time here - I have a few buckets now which are still runny.
 

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I will try for sections again this year. I've got two supers of Bee-O-Pac things which I took to the heather and got nothing, but the bees did at least make a start drawing out the wax. I shall give them back to the bees here in the town in the early sumer, after any OSR has finished in the surrounding fields. I get a nice honey which remains liquid for a long time here - I have a few buckets now which are still runny.
I was informed by a heather section expert 'Ivor Curry' from Cumbria to get more from less! my that he meant, Don't fill the section crate wall to wall, but use division boards and always use supers that had been well used previously as bee were reluctant to work sections , his method was to take extremeley strong colonies to the heather, give them limited storage room, result being beautifully drawn and sealed sections, filled to the corners :). He reckoned; "the premium paid for perfect sections outweighed the reduced quantity" . Yes ,he was talking old fashioned basswood sections :).

John Wilkinson
 
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That's an interesting idea, I can see the logic. I had two hives, each with only one super and they were the strongest I had (stuffed to the point of swarming as the saying goes) and topped one of them up some more by moving a nuc which was next to it in the original apiary away the previous day so it should have got reinforcements of foragers. I also rearranged the brood so the sealed was in the middle and unsealed on the outside so in theory they should have been more inclined to put honey in the super. Unfortunately, the weather was against us in August and the poor creatures had no stores of any sort near the end of the month. I suppose that is the drawback from a strong hive - they will consume stores very quickly in bad weather.
 
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