Honey collecting is an important aspect of beekeeping. It’s one of the most common reasons individuals decide to become beekeepers. Have you ever wondered how beekeepers determine when honey is ready for harvest? Intelligent predictions have room for error, which is why harvesting equipment such as honey refractometers are available to us. So, what should honey read on a refractometer?
What is a Honey Refractometer?
A refractometer is a device for measuring moisture. They are utilized in a variety of sectors and come in a variety of forms and sizes. They appear to be intricate pieces of machinery, but you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand how they function.
Light changes direction when it passes through solids or materials such as glass or water. This is known as refraction. A refractometer monitors how much light changes as it passes through a liquid. The temperature of the liquid influences refraction indices. The Brix scale, which measures liquids based on their concentration in water, is used by the majority of refractometers. The indices of various liquids will differ. This is when specialized refractometers come into play.
It is a vital instrument for determining the quality and grade of honey. Its precision has aided millions of beekeepers worldwide in producing high-quality honey. It is simple to use; just a few drops will provide reliable readings. Brix is a unit of measurement for honey’s nutritional content.
Higher Brix values indicate a higher nutritional grade. As a result, the greater the Brix percentage in food, the more nutritious the food is. It is also applicable in the production of honey. As a result, the higher the Brix percentage in honey, the higher the quality. When using a refractometer, the Brix and honey water content % function in opposite ways. To obtain a high-quality honey product, the honey water content must be low while the Brix percentage must be high.
How to choose the right Honey Refractometer?
The theory behind honey refractometers is straightforward, but selecting one may be difficult. You don’t want to buy a tool that will be useless to you, so think about the following before you buy one.
Types of refractometers
There are four main types of refractometers—laboratory, inline processing, analog, and digital.
Laboratory refractometers are employed in medicine and are not suitable for such a basic or small-scale measurement. Inline processing refractometers, on the other hand, are used to continuously detect moisture in pipes and water tanks.
Analog refractometers require the manual insertion of a sample plate and prism. Once everything is in position, you must point the refractometer at an outside light source to see the scale. Analog refractometers require manual calibration as well.
This is no longer an issue with digital refractometers. All you have to do is drop a sample drop into the well of the refractometer. It will have its own light source, and the meter will translate the reading into a refraction index.
Requirements for a honey refractometer
As a general rule, utilize a refractometer designed specifically for the task at hand. When selecting one, make certain that it is designed exclusively for honey. The specs will allow for accurate readings, which will make a difference.
Purchase a temperature-controlled refractometer. You must also ensure that your refractometer is capable of measuring gradient II solutions. In layman’s words, this means it can detect moisture in translucent liquids such as honey.
At the end of the day, all you need is a lightweight, low-cost tool that you can easily operate. Just do not scrimp on quality too much. As a result, they may be erroneous and functionally useless.
How to calibrate a honey refractometer?
Before you start:
- Clean the prism using a microfiber cloth or lint-free fabric after opening the lid or cover. We recommend that you do this every time you use the refractometer.
- Ensure both the refractometer and the calibrating liquid have the same temperature (ideally room temperature: 68˚ F or 20˚ C). This is because temperature affects refractive index readings.
- You should also keep the refractometer, calibrating liquid, and honey you’ll be measuring at the same temperature.
Step By Step – Honey refractometer calibration
Remove the prism’s clear cover and place a few drops of the calibrating liquid on the glass. Use just enough to cover the entire surface of the prism while avoiding going over the sides.
- Close the cover and gently press the transparent lid down to ensure there are no air bubbles.
- Remove the cover off the adjustable screw and keep the screwdriver nearby so you may adjust it if necessary.
- Take your refractometer and gaze through the eyepiece while pointing it towards a light source.
- Move the focus ring around until the scales and numbers make sense to you. The background is separated into color blocks, which are most likely blue and white.
- The line dividing the two is what indicates the value in its corresponding scale.
The substance you are calibrating already has a known or specified Brix or moisture content value. Determine whether you can read the given value through your eyepiece or if your refractometer is displaying a different one. If it is not the same, you must calibrate your device. You do this by adjusting the screw while looking through the eyepiece until the blue and white midline meets the specified or known value.
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How to use a refractometer to determine the honey moisture content
Before you start
- Take your refractometer and honey to your extraction room, or somewhere you can control the temperature to keep it constant.
- If your honey is already in a jar or bucket, give it a good stir. This will aid in obtaining more accurate reading. A sample of honey collected from the top layer of a pot or bucket will have a slightly different moisture content than a sample taken from the bottom.
Step By Step
- Remove the clear lid from the prism. Make sure there is no dust with your microfiber cloth.
- Using your dropper, apply a few drips of honey to the prism and spread it around. Alternatively, you can smear honey on the glass with your fingertip. Only enough to cover the prism area is required.
- Close the prism cover and squeeze gently to get rid of any bubbles.
- Hold the refractometer up to your eye and gaze through the eyepiece while holding it in front of a light source. If you need the image to be crisper, use the focus ring.
- The background is separated into white and blue sections, with a border separating the two. The water content scale and the Brix scale are common features of analog honey refractometers. Read the number at the point where the line meets the water content scale. That is the moisture or water content of the honey you just tasted.
- Clean the prism and the clear lid with a microfiber or lint-free cloth.
Best honey refractometer
There are numerous honey refractometers on the market, each with enticing characteristics. It may take some time to find a refractometer that meets your requirements if you are looking for one. This list of the top honey refractometers will help you decide. If you have one of these on your list, you’re on the correct track.
- Vee Gee Scientific BX-3 Handheld Refractometer
- Azzota Honey Tester Refractometer
- Aqueous Lab Honey Refractometer for Honey Moisture
- MISCO BKPR-1 Palm Abbe Digital Handheld Refractometer
- Atago 4422 PAL-22S Digital Hand-Held Pocket Honey Refractometer
- Milwaukee MIMA871 MA871 Digital Sugar Refractometer with Automatic Temperature Compensation
A honey refractometer is an underappreciated but essential instrument for any beekeeper who wishes to produce or sell high-quality, consumable honey. If you intend to gather commercial-grade honey, this is one tool that you must get and learn how to operate. They’re cheap, but they make a huge impact in your honey operation.