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What to do with High Moisture Content Honey

High moisture honey can certainly be a problem, as honey over about 19% can easily ferment. We often see high moisture honey in especially wet springs or humid areas, if honey is harvested too early, or water was introduced during extracting. The good news is that reducing moisture content of honey does not have to be complicated. 

reducing moisture content of honey

There are some simple tricks to reducing moisture content of honey on a small scale. First, you will need a refractometer to see what the moisture content of your honey is. If it seems especially runny, it's a good idea to get it tested. Bring it into our store, and we would be happy to test it for you! If the moisture is above 19%, heating or cooling, and mixing the honey over a period of days can reduce the moisture.


Managing Honey Moisture Content: A Comprehensive Guide

reducing moisture content of honeyHoney’s natural allure isn’t just its sweetness; it's also due to its long shelf life and resistance to bacteria. However, for beekeepers and honey enthusiasts alike, ensuring the right moisture content in honey is crucial for maintaining its quality and preventing fermentation. This article details effective methods for reducing honey's moisture content, evaluates the role of equipment like refractometers and bucket heaters, and provides actionable tips to manage honey moisture levels successfully. Additionally, it serves as a guide to understanding and adjusting the water content of honey to prevent spoilage while preserving its natural goodness.

Introduction to Honey Moisture Content

honey moisture content

Understanding the water content of honey is essential for both commercial and hobbyist beekeepers. Honey typically has a moisture content of less than 18 percent, which helps it stay preserved and free from microorganisms that can lead to fermentation. Moisture content higher than 19 percent can lead to an unstable product, prone to spoiling and losing its quality.



The Importance of Measuring Honey Moisture

To ensure the longevity and quality of honey, beekeepers need to measure and if necessary, regulate its moisture content. A refractometer is a key tool used for this purpose.

The Role of Refractometers in Honey Quality Assurance

moisture content of honey

A refractometer is an instrument used to measure the concentration of an aqueous solution by calculating its refractive index. For honey, this means determining its water content. A high-quality refractometer can measure moisture levels from 12 to 27 percent and should come pre-calibrated. The Bee Supply offers an affordable yet accurate refractometer, with a comfortable eyepiece and rubber grip, that works perfectly in any strong light, qualifying it as an essential tool for every beekeeper's toolkit.

Strategies for Reducing Moisture Content in Honey

1. Effective Use of Storage and Temperature Control

Freezing High-Moisture Honey

Freezing honey is an effortless approach to prevent fermentation due to high moisture levels. By simply bottling and freezing the honey immediately after harvesting, you can protect its quality. Thaw the jars as needed, and enjoy your honey worry-free.

Temperature Regulation with Bucket Heaters

A 5 Gallon Round Pail Heater can be a boon for managing the water content in honey. This device can raise the temperature of honey from 70 degrees to 125 degrees in about 6 hours, effectively reducing moisture content while preserving the honey's nutritional and flavor profile. The Bucket Heater comes with a 6 ft. grounded cord, adjustable size, and is suitable for 120-volt power supplies.

2. Dehumidification Techniques

Using a dehumidifier in a controlled environment can significantly decrease the water content of honey. Placing the honey in an enclosed space with a dehumidifier, and stirring it several times a day, can pull out excess moisture, leaving behind the appropriately concentrated honey to bottle and sell, or enjoy yourself.

3. Air Circulation Methods

DIY Climate Control with Enclosures

For the hands-on beekeeper, creating a DIY climate-controlled enclosure using an old refrigerator or ice chest can provide an innovative solution. By warming the space with a light bulb and using a small fan, you can gently reducing moisture content of honey through persistent air circulation.

4. Stirring and Agitation

Regular stirring of honey in a controlled environment helps in evenly distributing the heat and exposing more of the honey to air, supporting moisture evaporation.

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Tips for Preventing Excess Moisture in Honey

Harvest Timing and Weather Considerations

Honey should be harvested when it has reached the proper maturity in the hive. Factors like wet springs and high humidity can contribute to high moisture levels, so beekeepers should be cognizant of weather patterns and time their harvests accordingly.

Safe Extraction Practices

Water can be introduced during extraction, inadvertently raising moisture content. It is crucial to use dry, clean equipment and to follow best practices during the extraction process to avoid moisture contamination.

Maintenance of Honey Quality

Storage and Handling

Prevent moisture absorption by storing honey in airtight containers in a dry area. This prevents contact with humid air which could lead to increased moisture content.

Utilizing Honey's Natural Preservation Properties

Honey has natural antibacterial properties due to enzymes from the bees. Maintaining appropriate moisture content helps to keep these properties intact and the honey long-lasting.

Conclusion - honey moisture content

Proper management of honey moisture content is a fine balance that requires attention and skill. With the right knowledge and tools like a reliable refractometer and bucket heater, beekeepers can ensure their honey remains perfectly sweet and perfectly preserved.

Tools for Reducing Moisture Content of Honey

You only need a couple of inexpensive tools to begin reducing moisture content of honey and you can find them right here on our shop.


  • Measures 17-18.6% moisture content
  • Pre-calibrated
  • Rubber grip
  • Comfortable eyepiece
  • Durable and works under strong light

Bucket Heater

  • Suitable for 5-gallon pails
  • 120-volt, 100 watts
  • Heats honey to 165°F
  • Adjustable diameter
  • Comes with a long, grounded cord

Do you need a bee suit or beekeeping classes? We have you covered!

FAQs on Reducing Moisture Content in Honey

Moisture content is critical in honey because it impacts its quality, flavor, shelf life, and safety. Honey with a moisture content of less than 18% naturally resists spoilage by inhibiting yeast and bacterial growth. If the moisture level is above 19%, there's a risk of fermentation, which can spoil the honey and diminish its nutritional benefits.

The moisture content of honey can be accurately measured using a refractometer. This instrument gauges the refractive index of light passing through honey, which varies with moisture levels. Honey's ideal moisture reading ranges between 12% and 27%. The Bee Supply offers a high-quality refractometer that's pre-calibrated, easy to use, and provides reliable measurements in any strong light.

Some common methods to reduce the moisture content in honey include:

  • Freezing: Storing honey in the freezer immediately after extracting prevents fermentation, as honey cannot ferment when frozen.
  • Heating with a Bucket Heater: Gradually warming the honey in a controlled manner using a bucket heater, specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Dehumidification: Using a dehumidifier in an enclosed space with the honey to draw out excess moisture.
  • Air Circulation: Creating a warm, low-humidity environment with good air circulation to promote the evaporation of moisture from the honey.
  • Regular Stirring: Manually stirring honey multiple times a day to evenly distribute heat and aid evaporation.

Heating honey can potentially alter its natural enzymes, flavor, and color if not done carefully. Using a bucket heater designed for honey, such as the one offered by The Bee Supply, allows for a controlled and gentle heating process that reduces moisture without damaging the honey's quality. It's important to not overheat honey and to maintain temperatures between 85-95°F for optimal results.

Yes, beekeepers can take measures to prevent excess moisture in honey:

  • Monitor Hive Location: Place hives in areas with good air circulation and low humidity.
  • Hive Management: Regularly check the frames for capped honey, indicating readiness for extraction.
  • Weather Awareness: Harvest honey during dry periods and avoid harvest times when humidity is high.
  • Airtight Storage: Once extracted, store honey in airtight containers to prevent it from absorbing moisture from the air.
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