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Am I Ready To Harvest?

Hi all,
My colony is now 12 months old after being installed in November 2020. It has been a very strong colony from early on, and it swarmed in September this year, which caught me unaware as I didn’t think that it would swarm until late October/November, anyway, newbie trap. After it swarmed I opened the hive and removed all queen cells apart from two. The thing that seems strange to me is that the bees don’t seem to be filling the flow frames as much as I think they should. The hive is strong again, however the flow frames have stayed about the same volume for months.
3rd of October,

16th of November,

I realise after searching the forum that I need to open the super and pull the flow frames for a look which I will do tomorrow. I live on 100 acres with no other hives nearby and National Park behind, there is a massive amount of flowering vegetation atm so no foraging issues, which makes me think that there should be more honey in the flow frames?
Any comments appreciated and thanks in advance!

To me that looks like good progress given your colony went down by about half after swarming. When thinking of forage availability, remember that rainfall makes all the difference with how much nectar there is in those flowers.

Also, your frames look very new. The bees have a lot of work to do before they can store nectar in there - first they have to wax up all the seams and build ends to add caps to on each cell.

Thanks Eva, there’s plenty of rainfail here, everything is lush and green with flowers galore. It’s a good season. I pulled the hive apart today, it’s very strong and healthy, I’ll put some photos up soon.

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And yes the frames are 12 months old.

This is one of the centre frames that looks almost full from the back. I guess I could harvest it as there is absolutely no honey in those empty centre cells. Interestingly the outer frames are nearly full too but from the centre out, which is why they look empty still from the rear viewing window. So there’s a lot more honey in there than what I thought, and the super was quite heavy. Hard to take photos on your own!

The two centre brood frames, they still have the food dye coloured sugar syrup stored top left of both frames from when the nuc was installed 12 months ago.

Just to add my 2 bobs worth to the discussion, I would harvest from the frame in the photo, especially seeing as you observed, the empty cells are completely empty. Plus any others like it.

I think it’s a great idea to always inspect the frames before harvest, on account that the viewing window is not an accurate indication of the status of the frames. Then there is also the slim possibility that the queen found her way up there, resulting in brood in the flow frames. Alternatively a laying worker laying eggs up there.

Only a few days ago I discovered brood in one of my honey supers. I dare say the queen found a gap in the metal QE, which I’ll find before blocking it off.

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Thanks Jeff, should I pull the flow frames after harvest and paint any unused sections with melted wax? Also would it be ok to harvest every frame at once, as long as they are capped off of course. As I said earlier it is a good season here and the hive is pretty strong even after swarming two months ago.

Are you referring to the empty arc? It’s not so much unused as the workers are reserving space for brood (which will never be used, of course). It looks like from your picture that the cells there are completed, just not filled or drawn out further.

Thanks chau, yes the empty arc, and no I don’t think that those cells had any wax at all, but I could be mistaken. I’m going to pull every flow frame this afternoon and have a better look, and then I’ll harvest. I assumed that the bees just didn’t like the new plastic so much, although there is a bee in one of the centre cells. Your brood comment makes sense.