Refractometer or Not?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by brooksbeefarm, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I have checked frames of honey that was fully capped that tested 19 to 20%?? The books say if it checks over 18% there is a chance it will ferment? When i first started beekeeping (1964 or 1965?) i never heard of a Refractometer? If the frames of honey was fully capped or 3/4 capped and the uncapped honey wouldn't shake out we extracted it, i don't remember ever having any of my honey fermenting. Makes me wonder if a Refractomenter is that critical, or is it just something to sell to beekeepers.:roll: Any thoughts on this? Jack
    PS. I do have one.:???:
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    I always in the field checked honey the old way. When I start extracting I check every super as it comes out of the extractor with refractometer. I look at it as a cheap insurance policy
     

  3. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    IMO it takes the guesswork out of it. A refractometer is on my list of things of things to get, even though in our very dry climate honey generally has 17% or less water. For personal use it hardly matters, but if you sell a lot of honey I figure that you owe it to your customers to make sure.
     
  4. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Jack back in 1964 1965 the regulations enforcement of honey standards were a lot laxer. In Canada at that time the standards for color grade where industry set and followed as to present a quality product. It was in the early 80s that the government got involved in adopting the standards and the late 90's before they did any inspection and inforcement. Most of this was to do with honey labeling and honey house packing plant health. Inspectors were more concerned with where the honey was extracted and handled, and that the label on the jars conformed to the food packaging code. They may of checked the honey but in most cases didn't.
    Judging and sampling honey from multiple beekeepers from the area that enter the fair, most who are hobbies that do not have access to a refractometer there have been very few enterys with a moisture content over the 17% limit in Canada. If I went with the 18% USA limit I think there has been only one exhibit in the last 15 years. That honey was more the viscosity of maple syrup than that of corn syrup that honey normally has.
    If you trust the bees they will not cap it until it is rip. Unlike humans who would love some mead to keep the warm on a cold winter night, the bees will have no use for honey that is fermenting. The 3/4 capped average of the frames will result in the honey being below the 18% moisture as long as the honey is mixed together. Frames of honey in the supers some will be fully caped others maybe only 1/2 or less. When extracting you would not want to extract all the capped frames and place the honey in one bucket and then the sparsely capped ones, store the honey in a different bucket.
    This is where the larger beekeepers have an advantage as they use larger storage bottling tanks so larger batches are blended as well as pumping the honey aids in the mixing of the honeys.
     
  5. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    ApisBees, What are honey aids? Jack
     
  6. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Jack, I think you didn't read Apis according to his punctuation. What he meant is that, those who pump and mix batches of honey have this aid them in attaining the proper moisture level in their product.
     
  7. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Thanks Efmesch that is what I meant. Although the moisture content will stabilize fairly rapidly thru out a stored batch, but it does take time. But if there is a difference in the color of honey these require mixing to get a constant color. About very third year an entry will be submited where I can see streaking because of different colors of honey not being blended. In no way dose this detract from the quality or taste of the honey but in a honey competition it would be marked down because of it. In a store the consumer might think the honey is separating and going bad.
     
  8. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Thanks to you both, i should of caught that, but with all the new stuff coming on the market now a day, i thought i'd missed something.:grin: Jack
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I have never use a refractometer. Never used one in Florida (long long ago) and I have never used one here. I do like to take off honey after the wet season and when thing have gotten very dry. The honey here tend not be be wet anyway which is not so true 100 south of me where they have a large flow of tallow and on occasions can capture a crop that is very very wet and will spoil if you don't monitor it closely. If I was trying to capture a crop on the Texas Gulf coast I would definitely invest in a refractometer.

    Apis brings up a good point which I have always consider to be a burr in my own saddle. Honey standards (at least here in the US) has been largely set by bottlers and almost always sets the producer of the product at a disadvantage in the marketing chain. The primary thing accomplished is this allows packers to dumb down the price of the producer and at the end of the day does not reflect any quality aspects of 'good' table grade honey.
     
  10. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I have noticed the light honey (in my area anyway) seems to check a higher moisture content than the dark? In years past the light colored honey sold first, now days, i have more demand for dark honey from my customers. I have seen on other post how the light honey separates from the dark? i don't recall seeing this happen? I will take off 8 to 10 honey supers at a time, and extract it that day or the next, i don't separate the dark from the light honey when i run it through the extractor and my honey most of the time has a amber look. I then set the 5 gallon buckets of honey on stools and chairs, with a net over the top of each bucket and have a fan blowing over the top of them. I do this in the basement with the air conditioning on, when we are ready to bottle it i will check each bucket with the refactometer, then put it in the heat box (set on 90 degrees) so it will flow better out of the gate into the jars. We must be doing something right, we haven't had a complaint and usually sell out before the first of the year.:thumbsup: Jack
     
  11. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Jack keep up the good work you are doing it right. Allowing the honey to settle before bottling so the moisture equalize thru out the pail, warming so the honey flows better, and also decreases the air bubbled in the honey. checking to make sure the moisture is OK before bottling even when you know it is all right.
     
  12. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Thanks ApisBee, I might add one more thing we do, my wife buys a netting by the yard that is used for making curtains, she cuts squares out of it and doubles it between the stainless steel honey strainer. We set it on top of a 5 gal. bucket under the extractor gate to strain it into the buckets to catch the trash (small chunks of wax). We don't filter our honey, just strain it one time, people tell me that is the kind of honey they are looking for.:thumbsup: I didn't mean to get into the honey processing subject, but thought it might give some ideas to the new beekeepers. This is not a chiseled in stone method,it's just the way my wife and i do it.:lol: Jack