One of the factors determining the authenticity in testing natural honey is its moisture content. The moisture content of honey is about 80% when bees collect nectar from flowers. In the whole process of collecting nectar and making honey, this percentage decreases below 20%. In the continuation of this article, we will provide you with the things you need to know about honey moisture and how to detect it.
Moisture in the honey production process
The honey production process begins when bees fly about a kilometer around the hive to obtain precious nectar from flowers. In fact, in some cases, they can triple the distance to search for nectar. However, in these cases, there may be complications when returning with such a load of kilometers.
Initially, the moisture content of nectar can be around 80. For this reason, during the honey production process, bees try to gradually reduce this moisture.
Once the crop is complete, the bees begin their journey back to the hive. Along the way, they process the nectar obtained by frequent sucking into the mouth.
The bees manage to evaporate some of the nectar water, which causes the nectar to shrink in size. Thus, in this part of the process, part of the moisture in the honey begins to decrease. When the bees reach the hive, they transfer the load to other young domestic bees, which gradually move it from one to another to place it in hexagonal cells.
Next, to dry the cells, the bees create airflow with their wings. At this stage, the moisture content of honey is significantly reduced again. At the same time, a series of enzymes are added that make some of the complex sugars simpler.
By significantly reducing the moisture content of the cells, the preservation of honey is greatly facilitated. In addition, we must keep in mind that when reducing the moisture content of honey, the internal heat of the hive is also key. Then, when the bees detect that the moisture content of the honey is at the appropriate level, ie less than 20%, they close the cells with wax.
What is the moisture content of honey?
In general, honey has about 17 to 18% moisture. However, honey collected in the summer has even less moisture, which is about 16. This is because due to the heat, honey loses its water much faster.
On the other hand, honey harvested in the spring, such as orange blossom honey, has a higher humidity because the days are shorter and the ambient humidity is higher. Honey harvested in the fall, whose moisture can reach up to 20%, has a similar situation.
How to detect excess moisture in honey
When the bees seal the completed cells with wax, the beekeepers collect the combs to extract the honey.
Finding 100% sealed frames (honeycombs with wax-filled cells) is not always easy. For this reason, beekeepers choose boxes that are at least 80 sealed.
It is not recommended to collect combs with a wax content of less than 80%, because if honey is collected earlier than the bees complete the production process, it has a high humidity, which facilitates its fermentation. Likewise, when the honey is too wet, it may come out of the jar or even the lid of the jar.
On the other hand, the main consequence of excess moisture in honey is the risk of fermentation. When honey is fermented, the carbon dioxide that is produced facilitates the formation of bubbles inside the container. Also, they appear when you open them. Similarly, when there is a lot of fermentation, we notice the smell of vinegar and when we open the container, we hear the sound of gas.
Consequences of excess moisture in honey: fermentation
When honey has excess moisture, it is more likely to ferment. Honey fermentation occurs when microscopic yeasts in the air, flowers, soil… find enough moisture to grow. These yeasts make honey impossible by consuming the sugars in it and creating acetic acid and carbon dioxide.
Conditions aggravating the risk of fermentation of honey
- High storage temperature of honey;
- Collecting immature or immature honey (collecting honey from combs with less than 80% of their cells closed);
- Containers in which honey is packaged are not properly cleaned;
- Hygienic measures are not observed.
In this article, in order to define Honey moisture, While providing details about the honey production process, how to add moisture and change its amount during the production process was mentioned. We also found that the moisture content of natural honey is typically below 20%; Of course, this number will be different in different situations. Then, how to detect excess moisture in honey and the bad consequences of excess moisture in honey were discussed.