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Question: Which honey is better?
Thick, slow-pouring, high-viscosity honey - 12 (100%)
Thin, fast-pouring, low-viscosity honey - 0 (0%)
Total Voters: 11


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Author Topic: Honey Viscosity?  (Read 1777 times)
2-Wheeler
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« on: September 08, 2006, 06:53:06 PM »

Still being a newbee to this beekeeping, honey harvesting stuff, I'm starting to notice subtle differences between our own honey and the generic honey from the store.  One thing I've noticed is that our honey seems to be thicker and have a higher viscosity, even when it sits side-by-side on the same shelf and same temperature with store-bought honey or even some local honey we bought in the southeast last summer.

I checked a couple of books and could not find anything to clarify this question. Is honey better with a higher viscosity (thicker) or lower viscosity?  Is it a factor of water content in some way?  Could it mean we waited too long to harvest?
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-David Broberg   CWOP#: CW5670 / CoCoRaHS #CO-BO-218
Blog: http://beesandblooms.blogspot.com/
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thegolfpsycho
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2006, 09:11:56 PM »

Be careful with the thin stuff.  Pretty good chance the water content is too high and it will ferment eventually.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2006, 03:30:39 AM »

easy flowing honey is due to either one of two causes: heat or high water content.  High water content is due to a high nectar percentage in the comb.  It ferments easily which is ok if you're into mead making, otherwise it is undesireable.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2006, 01:47:30 PM »

I do like the taste of about 18% moisture honey better than 15% or lower.  But, as they said, higher than that will ferment.
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Michael Bush
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2-Wheeler
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2006, 02:17:14 PM »

Thanks for all the answers.  

Now we just completed our final harvest. We did one in early-August and one this weekend (September 9). Both are from the same hive, the same bees, harvested using the same extraction process, put in the same bottles and stored at the same temperature. They even seem to have the same color.

Yet one seems to be thicker than the other. See the video here.
http://www.brobergs.us/video/honeyX2.avi

What's the difference? How do you measure moisture content?
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-David Broberg   CWOP#: CW5670 / CoCoRaHS #CO-BO-218
Blog: http://beesandblooms.blogspot.com/
My Weather: http://www.leyner.org/
My Flickr Album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dbroberg/
Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2006, 04:56:31 PM »

I let the bees measure the moisture.  Around here they don't cap it until it's dry enough.  But if you actually want to measure it, you'll need a refractometer.  Available from all of the bee supply places.  I've never owned one.  Actually I've only SEEN one and never even USED one.  They used to run several hundred dollars but cheaper ones are now available.

If you can BORROW one and find a jar of yours that is your target moisture content, you can seal it tightly and use it for measurment.  Simply get both the new honey and the known honey the same temperature (by leaving them at room temps overnight) and then flip the jars over and time the bubbles.  Faster bubbles are more moisture.  Slower bubbles are less moisture.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2006, 09:46:19 PM »

If you want a demonstration on how to use one go to your closest Orange Julius.  They are required to have one and use it to check the sugar content in the Orange Juice as it's squeezed.  It will be 10 minutes will spent.
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2-Wheeler
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2006, 11:55:11 PM »

Quote from: Michael Bush
I let the bees measure the moisture.  Around here they don't cap it until it's dry enough.  But if you actually want to measure it, you'll need a refractometer.  Available from all of the bee supply places.  I've never owned one.  Actually I've only SEEN one and never even USED one.  They used to run several hundred dollars but cheaper ones are now available.


Thanks. Yes, I've seen some ads for the refractometer. Sounds too rich for my curiosity.  But I'm still puzzled about this. It seems as though the gauge measures the color or light attenuation through the honey, somehow correlating darkness to less moisture?  Or do I not understand?
See reference: http://www.honey.com/downloads/exhoney.pdf

But this doesn't match my experience. As you can see from the video (link above) both jars have exactly the same color (as far as my eyes can tell), yet one takes much longer for the bubble to rise. OTOH, I have some store-bought honey, that is quite a bit darker than my own, yet the "bubble-speed" is even faster than my fastest honey.  So if less moisture = darker color and less moisture = slower flow, then why does the darker honey from the store beat mine in a race? Why do two honeys with the same coloration have such different speed?

Quote from: Michael Bush
If you can BORROW one and find a jar of yours that is your target moisture content, you can seal it tightly and use it for measurment.  Simply get both the new honey and the known honey the same temperature (by leaving them at room temps overnight) and then flip the jars over and time the bubbles.  Faster bubbles are more moisture.  Slower bubbles are less moisture.

That's what I thought. This is exactly what my video clip demonstrates, yet the coloration is exactly the same. (The video should play with Windows Media Player by clicking on the link)
http://www.brobergs.us/video/honeyX2.avi
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-David Broberg   CWOP#: CW5670 / CoCoRaHS #CO-BO-218
Blog: http://beesandblooms.blogspot.com/
My Weather: http://www.leyner.org/
My Flickr Album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dbroberg/
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