Category Archives: Labels and jars

250 jars

12ox hex jar with clear (runny) honey. The Apiarist

12ox hex jar …

I usually sell honey in 1lb ’rounds’, the classic honey jar with a gold screw lid. These jars are easy to fill, with no nooks and crannies for bubbles to get stuck. However, many beekeepers are now selling in 12oz hex jars. These look a little fancier and are usually sold at a premium price. They’re also a bit harder to fill neatly as bubbles can easily get trapped at the shoulder. Since I have several hundred 1lb rounds and a similar number of printed labels it’ll be a year or so before I have to make a decision to stick with the rounds, or switch to the smaller jar.

Soft set and clear honey

Soft set and clear honey

My small-scale bottling typically involves preparing a 30lb bucket of honey in my warming cabinet, bottling about 28lb (using my bucket tipper) for sale with the bubbly dregs going into unlabelled jars for home consumption, cooking, marmalade or making mead. I rarely get orders for more than 25lb of honey at a time (but will happily accept them). However, I recently received an order for 250 4oz hex jars of local honey to go into “goody bags” for guests celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the University of Warwick as I have bees in the university apiary and on the surrounding farmland.

As I discovered … 4oz hex jars, if filled to above the shoulder, actually take about 5oz of honey. I additionally discovered that the irritating, bubble-trapping, shoulders on 12oz hex jars are just as irritating but a lot smaller on 4oz hex’s. Bottling this lot took quite a long time …

250 4oz hex jars

250 4oz hex jars …

However, the finished products, with tie-on labels designed by the university, looked great …

 

4 oz hex jars aren’t

I discovered yesterday that 4 oz hex jars take considerably more than 4 oz of honey if they are to be filled properly. I’ve had an order for 250 and this is the first time I’ve used jars this small. By my calculations 4 oz of honey is 113.5 g. The closest I could get was about 115 g on my scales, which left the honey surface a few millimetres short of the shoulder of the jar. Very unsightly. If you follow the advice for filling standard 1 lb rounds, ensuring there isn’t a gap below the lid and the surface of the honey, then you actually need to add about 140 g of honey to fill these small jars.

4 oz hex jar

4 oz hex jar …

These jars were supplied by Compak who indicate they have a volume of 116 ml. Perhaps my honey is particularly dense? The jars are attractive and make nice gifts. Just make sure you prepare sufficient honey to fill them properly. My initial calculations of needing 62.5 lb of honey (i.e. two slightly overfilled 30 lb buckets) for the 250 jar order is out by about 15 lb.

Honey bucket tipper

Honey bucket tipper

Honey bucket tipper …

If you bottle honey from large buckets or tanks you usually have to tip the container to avoid the slightly scummy surface layer which can spoil the appearance of several jars if you’re not careful. As the level drops you need to tip the bucket at an increasingly acute angle. Of course, you also need to tip the bucket to get the dregs out as well. This can all get a little precarious. There are a number of solutions available commercially. Thorne’s sell a honey tipper which has a strong spring which is depressed by the weight of the full bucket. As the level drops the spring extends, so tipping the bucket forewords. Although clever, it’s not an inexpensive solution. An alternative is the FillyBoy which offers a simple manual solution but doesn’t appear to have a UK distributer. The underlying principle of both approaches is the same – two pieces of wood, hinged along one side with the ‘upper’ piece fitted with some way of stopping the bucket sliding forward. This is easy to build at home.

The pictures are self-explanatory. I used offcuts of ply and softwood. The bucket ‘stops’ need to be suitably spaced for the bucket size you use. You also need to use a bit of trial and error to space the ‘stops’ on the baseboard to make sure the bucket is tipped at suitable angle. I placed the stop closest to the hinge so that the bucket was tipped at an angle of about 30o. Don’t be tempted to try and tip it much more than this or it might not be stable if your buckets are tall. Although not shown in the pictures I’ve now added a simple handle to the ‘back’ edge of the upper board (see the FillyBoy images for inspiration) that makes moving the wedge, and so increasing the angle, an easy task.

It’s also worth giving the entire thing 2-3 coats of clear varnish to make it ‘wipe clean’ – not that honey ever gets spilled during bottling …

Honey tipper - top view

Honey tipper – top view

Honey tipper - opened up

Honey tipper – opened up

Honey tipper - side view

Honey tipper – side view

Poundland

£1 only

£1 only … unsurprisingly

Good value 1.4 litre airtight sealable storage tubs are sold by Poundland that take just over 4lb of honey. I think these will be ideal for storing batches of soft set honey in preparation for seeding the next bucket. This saves either leaving it in the bucket or bottling it. You usually need 3-4lb of creamed honey of the desired consistency to act as the seed for a full bucket, so the volume of these tubs is about right. They might also be suitable for bulk sales.

It’ll be no surprise to know that these tubs cost £1 …