Slides and Notes reproduced by kind permission of Nick.
What is it? A legal definition.
Purity: no added High Fructose Corn Syrup, no topping up with water or sugar syrup. Levels of main sugars within permitted limits: sucrose (max 5%), fructose and glucose, (min 60%) for blossom honey. Some mono-florals allow different limits due to naturally occurring levels.
Contaminants: no hairs (inc pets), no dirt, no wax moth frass, no bee bits, no dust, dandruff or fabric lint, no lids dropping rust particles. Pollen in suspension is allowed, but avoid lumps. No taints or smells foreign to the honey.
Water content: honey is a water-loving compound, and sugar-loving airborne yeasts will, in time, cause fermentation if moisture content is above 18% at room temp. Illegal to sell above 20% except as Baker’s Honey (23%). Illegal to sell if already begun to ferment.
As the bees made it: not heated significantly, not fine-filtered to remove all pollen (unless labelled as such).
Excessive heating is determined by reference to statutory maximum or minimum of:
+ HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural – 40 mg/kg), a breakdown product of heating sugar in the presence of an acid. Natural level varies according to the nectar base but naturally occurring at undetectable to single-figure levels.
+ Enzyme content (diastase) not less than 8.
+ Electrical conductivity – must be not more than 0.8 millisieverts/cm
WARMTH WHILE PROCESSING IS GOOD
Coefficient of viscosity (poise) 189.6 @ 20.6°C, 68.4 @ 29°C, 21.4 @ 39.4°C – i.e. between 20-40°C viscosity goes down by a factor of 9x Makes honey processing much easier.
What to take: all or some? Beekeeper’s choice. Remember starvation risk, and bees still need space after super(s) removed. How much work do you want?
Parting bees from their honey.
Clearing: Shake and brush or Porter Bee Escapes (or other fancy devices). Go through all frames. 100% capped frames OK to use. Partially capped frames use horizontal shake test, OK to use if no drips.
Beware robbing. Reduce entrances.
Knives, hot or cold. I find cutting upwards easier.
Can use uncapping fork if only a few frames.
Hot air blower to melt cappings.
Squeeze whole comb.
Two types of extractor:
Tangential, cheaper, smaller, more work (frames have to be turned).
Radial, more investment, saves time.
Check carefully the frames that will fit, eg brood frames?
Now is not really a good time to buy!
Suggest a stand with wheels (see slide 5 above):
Move extractor around.
Height clearance over 60lb tank.
Filtering “for sale” quality – down to +/- 180 microns to avoid removal of pollen. Commercial strainers from the usual suppliers.
Only sell the good stuff. Honey with bits in or >19% water then keep for personal use.
Plan and prepare: tools, tables, washing facilities, clean floor before and after. Enough buckets and sieves? Return to domestic tranquillity ASAP.
Hygiene: Keep it covered, keeps out flies and floating contaminants. If left overnight to allow air bubbles or wax flakes to rise beware of stratification, denser settles and higher water rises, resulting in possibility of breaching water content maximum when reach the dregs (the top scummy layer).
Refractometer is a worthwhile investment (essential if you are selling honey really). Anything doubtful still makes good baking honey or mead.
Storage: Do not end up with solid honey in a bucket you can’t melt again. Best temp to make crystals is 14C. To avoid crystals go hot or cold, or take your chance…
Packaging: Bottle immediately, can reuse jars but not lids, or store in bulk and reprocess later.
Too hot for too long – produces high HMF etc.
Too cold: no such thing. Cut comb will store well in the freezer.
If badly (half) crystallised reheat to go back to liquid, using a warming cabinet.