• PATRONS: Did you know we've a chat function for you now? Look to the bottom of the screen, you can chat, set up rooms, talk to each other individually or in groups! Click 'Chat' at the right side of the chat window to open the chat up.
  • Love Gotmead and want to see it grow? Then consider supporting the site and becoming a Patron! If you're logged in, click on your username to the right of the menu to see how as little as $30/year can get you access to the patron areas and the patron Facebook group and to support Gotmead!
  • We now have a Patron-exclusive Facebook group! Patrons my join at The Gotmead Patron Group. You MUST answer the questions, providing your Patron membership, when you request to join so I can verify your Patron membership. If the questions aren't answered, the request will be turned down.

Sugar content of honey

beekind

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 14, 2008
102
1
0
Vermont
For the first twenty or so batches that I threw together, I used the same honey (a wildflower blend from several local apiaries) and my gravity readings were almost equal to what the mead calculator calculated;this was based on honey having a sugar content of 79%. As I started varying the type of honey used, I started to get varying gravity readings with the same amount of honey used from earlier batches, i.e. same amount of honey as before was giving me a lower gravity. Of course, I checked my hydrometer and it was still accurate.

Well, the family and I have moved all the way across the country, and now, I'm dealing with completely different sources for honey. My readings have been WAY different. The most recent new sample of honey only showed as having about 55% sugars...Yikes! Basically, I ended up having to put more than a pound more of honey into a one gallon batch.

Now, the question:
How do you guys figure out the amount of honey that you are going to purchase when these types of variables can account for large differences in amounts depending on honey sources? Is anyone testing this stuff before they drop $200+ bucks for 60lbs of honey? If so, how?

I've asked a few local apiarists, and they only had very vague notions of the honey content of their honey.
These large differences can make what seems like a good deal on honey, really not a good dea at all.
 

phreebyrd

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 17, 2009
56
0
0
College Station, TX
i dont know how to guage that but i do buy smaller batches of honey 3pounds or so.... ssoooo if i make a mistake its a cheap one, once i feel "smarted up" ill spend more for larger barrels ...its my motto!!lolo
 

akueck

Certified Mead Mentor
Certified Mead Mentor
Jun 26, 2006
4,958
10
0
Ithaca, NY
Honey that is only 55% sugar would be in danger of spoiling. Usually honey is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% sugar by weight, plus or minus a few percentage points. So far I've gotten honey from many different sources and have ranged from needing an extra 1/2 lb out of 15 to having an extra 1/2 lb out of 16. I'd be concerned about the quality of honey that only has 55% sugar. Was it processed in some strange way? Harvested after a lot of rain? Stored improperly?
 

kudapucat

NewBee
Registered Member
Dec 2, 2010
2,383
10
0
Bundoora, Melbourne, Australia
I know nothing of percentages. I get my dad's honey...
That said, I do know that 'supermarket honey' is hot extracted then watered down to a consistent gravity.
Both processes result in poorer quality honey that 'spoons easily' and can be sold for more (watering increases the volume)
Perhaps your suppliers are such? Find a local apiarist who will sell you 'raw' cold extracted honey.
 

mmclean

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 22, 2010
1,128
1
0
Tennessee Valley
Thanks for posting. Some very good thoughts on the quality of honey.

I think the concern is with water content, more so than surgar content. If you gather to mamy combs with uncaped (uncured) cells, you will have more water, less sugar. Not good.

I don't think they are allowed to sell honey with over a set amount of water.

Maybe some beeks can add some insight into this.
 

beekind

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 14, 2008
102
1
0
Vermont
The sample that I had was from a local apiarist. His family has been in the business for thirty some odd years.

I had been thinking that that was a very low percentage; I thought that the bees would have 'dehydrated' the honey more than that before capping.

I'm planning on chatting with the beekeeper the next time I see him to ask why his honey is so low in sugar content. The only problem is that it tasted really good...akin to fresh flowers. I thought maybe that this was still some of his spring batch, which I've heard spring batches tend to have a lower sugar content (please, correct me if I am mistaken).

Getting to the point:
So, you guys haven't experienced much in the way of variations in sugar percentage?
 

wayneb

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
If I remember correctly, all USDA certified honey grades must contain 18.5% water at most. That's the highest percentage for Grade C, which is the lowest quality and highest moisture content that can be sold as USDA graded in the US. But I'm recalling this from memory - perhaps some of our beekeeper members can answer with more authoritative information.
 

BrewinNColorado

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Jan 4, 2008
173
2
0
Boulder County, Colorado
According to honey.com, here is a chart with the grades, and water content....

Sorry for the rough looking charts, I couldn't get the spacing to keep

=======Minimum Total Solids (%) ===Maximum WaterContent (%)
Grade A === 81.4 ===18.6
Grade B === 81.4 ===18.6
Grade C === 80.0 === 20.0


Specific Gravity Dependent upon water content:
Water Content (%) === Specific Gravity (20 °C)
15 === 1.4350
18 === 1.4171
Other factors such as floral source slightly affect the specific gravity of honey.
Honeys from different origins or batches should be thoroughly mixed to avoid
layering.



more can be found at http://www.honey.com/images/downloads/refguide.pdf
 

mmclean

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 22, 2010
1,128
1
0
Tennessee Valley
Found this:

Honey from different nectar sources can have different moisture contents. Clover honey is around 23% and is perfectly good honey with this level of moisture. However, other honey will ferment at 23%. In fact, moisture levels higher than 21%, other than the honey where this is permissible, is not fit for sale. Honey is hygroscopic which means it can easily absorb moisture from the air around it. But, if the air is dry, then honey will lose moisture, thus improving its quality
 

AToE

NewBee
Registered Member
Jun 8, 2009
4,066
3
0
Calgary AB Canada
Well, and it's only "better" if you plan on leaving it around and eating it as honey. Wouldn't make much sense to dry it out, then dilute it to make must!
 

mmclean

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 22, 2010
1,128
1
0
Tennessee Valley
Most places only have a few months, during the main nectar flow, to make the years harvest. Summer end nectar flows are mostly left for the bees.