Honey harvesting is an essential part of beekeeping. It’s one of the most prevalent motivations for people to start beekeeping.
Have you ever been curious about how beekeepers know when honey is ready to be harvested?
Honey refractometers and other harvesting devices are available because intelligent forecasts contain room for error. So, what should honey’s refractometer reading be?
What is a Honey Refractometer?
A refractometer is a moisture-measuring instrument. They appear to be complex machines, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how they work.
When light passes through solids or materials like glass or water, it changes direction. This is referred to as refraction.
Best refractometer measures the amount of change in light as it passes through a liquid. The refraction indices are affected by the temperature of the liquid.
The majority of refractometers use the Brix scale, which measures liquids based on their concentration in water. Different liquids will have different indices. Best refractometers are used in this situation.
It’s a crucial tool for identifying honey’s quality and grade. Millions of beekeepers around the world have benefited from its precision in producing high-quality honey.
It’s easy to use; just a few drops will give you accurate results. Brix is a metric for measuring the nutritional value of honey.
Brix readings greater than 100 imply a higher nutritious grade. As a consequence, the higher the Brix percentage in a food, the healthier it is.
It can also be used in the honey-producing process. As a result, honey with a greater Brix % has a higher quality.
The Brix and honey water content percent function in different ways when using a refractometer. The honey water content must be below, while the Brix % must be high to produce a high-quality honey product.
What should you look for in a Honey Refractometer?
Honey refractometers have a simple idea, but choosing the right one might be tricky. You don’t want to acquire a tool that won’t be useful to you, so consider the following factors before purchasing.
Refractometers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Laboratory, inline processing, analog, and digital refractometers are the four primary varieties.
In medicine, laboratory refractometers are used, although they are not ideal for such a simple or small-scale test. On the other hand, refractometers with inline processing are continually used to detect moisture in pipes and water tanks.
A sample plate and prism must be manually inserted into an analogue refractometer. To view the scale, you must point the refractometer at an outside light source once everything is in place. Manual calibration is also required for analogue refractometers.
With digital refractometers, this is no longer a concern. All you have to do is put a sample into the refractometer’s well. It will have its light source translated into a refraction index by the meter.
The specifications for a honey refractometer
Use a refractometer developed precisely for the task at hand as a general rule. When choosing one, make sure it’s built specifically for honey.
The specifications will allow for more precise readings, which will be beneficial. Purchase a refractometer with temperature control.
You should also make sure that your refractometer can handle gradient II solutions. This implies it can detect moisture in translucent liquids like honey, in layman’s terms.
All you want is a lightweight, low-cost tool that you can simply operate at the end of the day. Just don’t sacrifice too much on quality. As a result, they may be inaccurate and ineffective.
What is the best way to calibrate a honey refractometer?
Before you begin, make sure to:
After opening the lid or cover, clean the prism with a microfiber cloth or lint-free fabric. This is something we suggest you do every time you use the refractometer.
Ascertain that the refractometer and the calibrating liquid are at the same temperature (preferably, room temperature: 68 F or 20 C). This is because refractive index readings are affected by temperature.
The refractometer, calibration liquid, and honey you’ll be measuring should all be kept at the same temperature.
Honey refractometer calibration – step by step
- Remove the clear cover from the prism and sprinkle a few drops of the calibrating liquid onto the glass. Use just enough to cover the prism’s whole surface without going over the sides.
- To verify there are no air bubbles, close the cover and carefully press the clear lid down.
- Remove the cover of the adjustable screw and keep the screwdriver handy in case you need to modify it.
- Take your refractometer and position it towards a light source while looking through the eyepiece.
- Move the focus ring around until you’re satisfied with the scales and numbers. The background is divided into colour blocks, the most frequent of which are blue and white.
- The value in the matching scale is indicated by the line that divides the two.
The Brix or moisture content value of the substance you’re calibrating is already known or specified.
Examine your eyepiece to see if you can read the specified value or if your refractometer is displaying a different one.
If the results aren’t the same, you’ll need to calibrate your device. While peering through the eyepiece, adjust the screw until the blue and white midline meets the specified or known value.
How to verify a refractometer to check the moisture content of honey:
Before you begin
- Bring your refractometer and honey to your extraction chamber or somewhere where the temperature can be controlled to keep it steady.
- Give your honey a thorough swirl if it’s already in a jar or bucket. The moisture content of honey gathered from the top layer of a pot or bucket will differ somewhat from that obtained from the bottom.
- The prism’s clear lid must be removed. With your microfiber cloth, make sure there is no dust.
- Add a drop of honey to the prism using your dropper and spread it about. Alternatively, you can use your fingertip to smear honey on the glass. It is only necessary to have enough to cover the prism area.
- Close the prism cover and gently press to remove any bubbles.
- While holding the refractometer in front of a light source, hold it up to your eye and look through the eyepiece. Use the focus ring to make the image more crisp.
- The background is divided into two sections: white and blue, with a border separating the two. Analog honey refractometers commonly include a water content scale and a Brix scale. At the point where the line hits the water content scale, read the number. That is the amount of moisture in the honey you just tasted.
- Using a microfiber or lint-free cloth, clean the prism and the clear cover.
A honey refractometer is a little-known but crucial tool for every beekeeper who wants to make or sell high-quality, consumable honey.
If you want to collect commercial-grade honey, you’ll need to purchase this tool and learn how to use it. They’re inexpensive, yet they have a significant impact on your honey business.