Sound and Honey (as seen in BeesCene)

SciFair-2The editor of BC’s BeeScene bee magazine picked up an earlier blog post of mine. Last month I wrote about my 13-year-old’s science fair project where Daniel used ultrasound to liquefy comb honey. The results were promising, but not overwhelming. Heather Sosnowski, an editor of BeesCene, wrote to my son and asked him for more details and whether the scheme might be applied outside the lab. She printed their Q&As in her magazine. I’ve posted Heather’s piece below.


Saving Honey with Sound
At the recent Calgary Youth Science Fair, 13-year-old Daniel
Miksha unveiled a project he had done using ultrasound to
liquefy granulated honey. Daniel is the son of beekeeper Ron
Miksha, who has contributed to this newsletter and also writes
a blog:

We got in touch with Daniel to ask a few questions about how
he got started on this project …

Heather: How did you come up with the idea for this project? What made you think of using ultrasound to liquefy honey?

Daniel: My older sister and her husband own a honey farm that produces comb honey. Honey made from flowers in their area is high in glucose, and therefore it granulates easily. When we went on a recent trip to visit their farm out in the countryside, Dad pointed out to me all the granulated combs that were no longer marketable. Once I got home I did a bit of research into ways that honey can be liquefied without being heated which would ruin the wax structure. I found a particularly interesting study that was conducted in Germany in which granulated honey could be “melted” using high frequency ultrasound. I wanted to see whether I could apply this same principle to our local comb honey, and perhaps re-liquefy some of it on my sister’s farm.

Heather: Can you briefly describe the equipment that you used to conduct your experiment?

Daniel: The study I had found was using extremely high frequency ultrasound that required expensive laboratory grade equipment. Unfortunately I didn’t have access to speakers that were that powerful. I ended up having to lower the pitch and power of the ultrasound I was using for my experiment, but that meant I was able. to use standard household speakers that could simply plug into my laptop. I used a computer program to generate high-frequency ultrasound (18,000 Hz) with these speakers.

Heather: Do you plan to try doing your experiment on a bigger scale?

Daniel: As of right now, no. In my experiments I only tested a total of 12 combs, with consistent but slightly underwhelming results. If I were to go further I would need laboratory-grade, powerful ultrasound speakers, and I would conduct more research to determine the exact frequencies of sound that would fully reliquefy comb honey. If someone else were able to get access to these speakers and be doing this experiment on a larger scale, I would be very interested to see their results!
VOLUME 32, #2 SUMMER 2016 11.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Comb Honey, Honey, Outreach, Science, Tools and Gadgets and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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