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Current harvest not working

Hi everyone,

We’ve had a strange experience with our flow hive and I hope we can find some advice on the forum.

We’ve had our flow hive since early 2019 and have had regular successful harvests since then, the last one being 9.5 kg last December. We inspected a couple of days ago and found all the frames with at least 75% capped cells and figured we’d do another harvest. Today we’ve cracked 4 frames and have only got the tiniest dribble of honey. Nothing seems particularly different to last time and we’re at a loss for what might be happening.

If anyone has any ideas we’d be very grateful.

Cheers

Warwick

I read this to my mentor. She said “jellybush”, then she said “the honey might have candied”. Are there any Leptospermums within range of your bees? Does the honey in the frames appear to have crystallized?

Jellybush is on our minds at the moment because I’m currently getting some jellybush honey out of my own hives.

Thanks Jeff, not sure about the leptospermums but I’ll ask my wife who is wise in such ways. Given that we’ve had half a dozen successful harvests previously and nothing has changed with the hive, something at the honey level is probably the culprit.

When the weather permits we’ll pull out a frame and give it a good talking to.

Cheers

Warwick

You might be able to pull some honey out with a meat skewer to see if it has any sugar crystals in it. If the honey is clear, to me that would indicate jellybush honey that comes from Leptospermums. You could seek out local knowledge in that area.

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Jellybush is a Qld or northern thing, I think.
It’s known down south as tea-tree.
Canola will do the same thing to your honey and I’m sure there are a host of other plant/tree species.

Canola is actually quite thin and flows well, however it candies very quickly which is an obvious problem in the flow frames.
Jelly bush or tea-tree is a very thick honey which is too viscose to run out the flow frames.
Slightly different problem with the two.

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Jellybush or tea tree honey is thixotropic, in that it is thick at rest, however it becomes thinner as you agitate it, but then it quickly thickens as soon as you stop agitating it. Definitely a problem in flow frames. I don’t think you can agitate it enough to make it flow.

You can hold a jar of proper (100%) jellybush or tea tree honey upside down, it wont budge. If you give the jar a few shakes before turning it upside down, it will flow out. My mentor loves showing people that.

Thanks for that info. Very interesting!
I’ve never come across it before here. But I have certainly encountered canola.

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Canola is a great way to build a hives strength coming out of winter.
I only use it for single box hives so they are not storing any in a super. 1. it crystallises so quickly and 2. It doesn’t have a pleasant taste, more of a cooking honey.
In my area it is one of the first nectar sources for the bees coming out of winter

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We took a couple of photos of some jellybush honey I scraped & cut out of some frames recently. As you can see by the first photo, the honey wasn’t budging, even though it had a relatively large surface area.
.

I gave the container a vigorous 5-6 second sideways shake before turning it upside down & this is what happened.

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That is so fascinating! Thanks for sharing those pics. You can easily see why it won’t work in flow frames.
From what I understand it has similar medicinal qualities as Manuka?

Is it possible to spin out? I have tea-tree on the back corner of my property and I have always wanted to try putting some hives there but haven’t been gaim yet. Obviously only traditional hives.

Thanks Tim, some species do have the same medicinal qualities as Manuka & some don’t. Each species of Leptospermum has different levels of the high quality ingredients. A while back the Sunshine Coast University was testing samples from all over Australia, funded by Capilano, I believe, so they can get an idea of where in Australia the good stuff grows. We all got a free test, accompanied by the results of the test as long as we donated 200g. of honey to be tested. I was lucky that mine came back with all the right numbers.

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Heather honey is another honey that is thixotropic. Thats an autumn honey in the Northern Hemisphere.

You can watch NZ beekeepers harvesting Manuka honey on Youtube. You can see how they first use an agitator on the frames before they extract the honey.

All I do is scrape it off the comb down to the foundation on one side, then down to the foundation on the other side, but only above the wires. Each frame is different. If it’s new comb with a heavy amount of jellybush honey, I’ll cut the comb out completely. If it’s a light amount on the frame I’ll scrape like I said before. This happens after I spin the regular honey out first, which leaves the jellybush honey behind. I have a 2 frame hand spinner. I always know jellybush is in the frames before I take them out because the spinner starts to wobble on account that one frame will remain heavy, while the other frame empties out, or varying levels.

I’m more than happy to leave some in the frames for the bees, in case the frames go back into hives where the colonies don’t work the jellybush flowers, because of the natural antibiotics for the bees.

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PS, I found this video of harvesting Manuka honey. He calls it a “honey loosener”, which happens before it’s extracted.

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Hi everyone,

Just a big thank you to all for your advice on this. We’ll open the hive and have a look at the frames to see if there is any candying and report back.

Cheers

Warwick

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Thanks Jeff.
Sounds achievable just a lot of effort. One more question for you… how do YOU strain it after scraping or crushing?

Hey Warwick,
Sorry for highjacking your thread. Hopefully some of the info has been a help to you.
Let us know your findings.

I think he sells it “as-is” with wax etc included. It seems that his customers don’t mind at all! :wink: