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General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #12118  by NigelP
 24 Oct 2021, 17:52
Sounds a lot more fun than my day. I bottled and labelled over a 100 jars of soft set honey....a few are shown below ready to be washed.

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 #12121  by JoJo36
 25 Oct 2021, 07:46
They look absolutely gorgeous Nigel!
Looks proper 'creamy white' unlike the cheap shop stuff!!
Reminds me of 'wallace and gromit's' cheese production line! :)
 #12122  by Steve 1972
 25 Oct 2021, 11:00
NigelP wrote:
23 Oct 2021, 17:31
Or you could make some of Steve's patented wasp excluder entrance tunnels. From all accounts they do a sterling job of allowing the bees to control who enters their hive.
Yes Nigel the tunnel entrances do work..it's better if the colonies have plenty of bees but if not the entrances can be shimmed down if you see wasps going in and not getting chased straight back out..I have one small nuc that was getting hammered last week...that nuc is now on a 15mm Wide tunnel and upto now the wasps are ignoring it as they do not seem to like going into tight narrow spaces where the odd bee could be lurking..
The thing with traditional entrance blocks is the wasps can sneak in and straight up the wall inside the hive thus avoiding the busy bees on the frames...with the 100mm long tunnel the wasps are basically entering the hive where most of the bees will be..
 #12125  by AdamD
 26 Oct 2021, 10:10
Had a 'Swarm Call' yesterday with bees in a concrete box about 65 x 65 x 65 cm in size with a 'hand-hold' opening at each side. (Used to lift the box up - it's quite heavy - a hernia and a half). The concrete 'box' sits on the ground over some gas pipes. I had to remove bees from an identical thing about 5 years ago just a few doors down the road - so the bees must like them!

The bees have been there for a while and should be fairly well-stocked with winter stores and it's too late in the year to remove them so the chances of survival are better if they are left alone. I have suggested closing up the un-used holes to reduce the drafts and hope they get through winter.
 #12127  by MickBBKA
 27 Oct 2021, 01:50
NigelP wrote:
24 Oct 2021, 17:52
Sounds a lot more fun than my day. I bottled and labelled over a 100 jars of soft set honey....a few are shown below ready to be washed.

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Looks great, if only the public would buy it. I think I probably sell 10-1 runny v soft set. It would save a lot of time and effort.
 #12132  by NigelP
 27 Oct 2021, 09:22
Making soft set is not difficult, many just seed a runny honey with a soft set one and let it set. This tends to give larger crystal sizes (darker coloured honey) and is fine but has a grainy texture, although many proponents of the "easy" soft set method claim its as smooth as butter.....it isn't.
The original method was developed by Dyce in the USA and was method for making soft set from clover honey to prevent if fermenting and included a pasteurization step not used in the making of soft set today It was also known as creamed honey before EU stopped us describing it as thuis because it did not contain real cream!

To make it you first need your "seed" honey. This can be a a shop bought soft set, or take a set honey and grind it into a white paste of very small crystals with a pestle and mortar/ spice grinder etc.
You add this to your liquid honey (I part seed to approx 10 parts liquid honey) and the small crystals act as seeds and all the crystal's that form will be of this small size. This is where it gets a little complicated as these crystals will tend to aggregate together to create larger crystals and these need to be broken down as they are forming to create a much smoother soft set honey.
Originally I tried using various drill attachment's, but they are crap as they tend to draw air into the mixture leaving a froth on the top of jars after bottling.
The best manual instrument I found was the Thornes Honey creamer which looks like a huge potato masher. You needed to work your soft set this with as often as you could, 3 or 4 time s a day to break all these crystal aggregates down to smaller sizes. Hard work.

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Then I splashed out and bought myself a mechanical soft set machine. This is a tank with a large paddle like a butter churn. This slowly works the seeded honey for 15 minutes then rests it for and hour before repeating. Takes 2-3 days to make a large batch. This constant mechanical rubbing of the crystals together by the paddle breaks them down to the smallest size possible giving an amazingly white soft set.
You need it to be cool to make soft set , 14C is the often given best temperature....yeah we all have temperature controlled rooms Doh....
Wow just checked price of creamer I bought from Abelo..it's doubled in price

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 #12135  by JoJo36
 28 Oct 2021, 06:04
So the process sounds not too complicated just the 'mashing' regularly to create the right texture.
I'm wondering for the future whether my food mixer would be okay to use and every so often slowly mix to get the granules nice and smooth regularly?! I suppose like making sourdough you need to give it regular but small amounts of attention?! It certainly looks well worth the effort! :)
 #12137  by MickBBKA
 28 Oct 2021, 10:16
I make small batches of 25lb with an electric hand whisk using the spiral kneaders and it works great. Its also a good idea to use honey that has set with a fine grain by liquifying it again first then creaming.
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