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First harvest, pics and observations


#1

Funny thing happened after harvesting 3 of my 6 flow frames. Although doing some searching, I’ve answered most of my own questions. Please let me know if you’ve got anything to correct, or info to add. Thanks!

Background:

  • Climate: Mediterranean (Southern Australia).
  • Bees introduced to new Flowhive Jan 2016.
  • My Bees swarmed in Sept 2016, taking most of the honey :frowning:
    (topic: Has my hive swarmed? )

Early Feb, 2017 - Ready for first harvest…
[Flow frames a referred to as 1-6, from L to R]

The two end frames were about 50% full; but all the middle ones appeared to be chocked with honey. I was excited for my first harvest! Please note: This photo was taken at 12:30pm (just before inspection).

The side-panel - Frame #1 - capping happening from the top down (2/3’s capped?). Lifted frame #6, and it was about 1/3 capped.

Inspection of frame #5 - fully capped.

Inspecting / trying to separate rest of frames.

My first harvest! Completely exciting. Please note, the time is now 3:30pm, as I let the bees ‘settle down’ after the inspection. This is the first frame harvested (#3), but note that some of the honey from the end of frame #2 is has ALREADY been removed by the bees. I read a bit about this in topic (Harvesting question); but I didn’t realise until reviewing the image times carefully that this ‘moving of the honey’ by the bees occurred after the inspection and BEFORE harvest, as this pic is taken less than a minute after harvesting began.

Jar nearly full - wow - so much honey from a single frame, prob at least 3kg! (Jar was covered with glad wrap, but removed it for the pic). After this, harvested frames #4 and #5 - but not #2, or either of the end frames.

This image was taken today - one week after the harvest. Some honey starting to fill in the harvested frames. The ends of frame #2 is still largely empty (compare to the first image, above); but also frame #1 (as seen from the viewing window) looks near completely capped, despite no honey in the end view.

Another thing you’ll notice, is that the ‘leakback gap’ may be blocked on a few frames (incl #2), so the honey is collecting there. I’ll have to clear them.

So, there you have it. Many questions, some of which I think I’ve worked out, some of which I don’t even know what to ask yet!


#2

Soooooo cool! Well done. Love the photos.


#3

Well done, is any honey leaking over the brood & onto the core flute? That’s something to watch out for, especially if SHB are active.


#5

Well done Goshen!! Love the pictures!


#6

I will carefully look back on your good pics when it’s our time to harvest in a couple of weeks. Thanks for sharing your experience, feels like been here.
Wish I could share our pics with you, but we are on satellite, upload sucks and never gets there.


#7

I’ve found that if i remove the frames to inspect before harvest i sometimes get bubbles form in the end cells. This is presumably caused by deflection in the frames. The bees go on to uncap these and take ages to refill them.

It hasnt deterred me from harvesting. I start by only opening the first few columns to fully drain them and then proceed to open the rest of the frame in stages.


#8

Thanks for the tip… So are you saying you ‘discard’ - or drain back to the bees the front section of ‘uncapped’ honey?

Oh, and JeffH - no - honey wasn’t leaking down onto the corflute at all… I checked.

and thanks for all the encouragement folks.


#9

I don’t discard the first part. I just drain those columns first because there is an increased risk of honey leaking out the uncapped cells.


#10

Nice harvest! the volume of honey in a frame can vary quite a bit depending on how far out the bees build the cells. I harvested 2 frames last week and they only have 4.5 Kg’s between them though they were fully capped. So 3 Kg’s from one frame is excellent.

One thing I noticed: in your post harvest pic you can see some honey in the some of the channels at the back. This happens on my hive. I take out the plug and use a little stick to poke into the hole where the bees can access the honey and lick it up. That hole can be plugged with propolis/wax. After a few days of unplugging the channels usually empty.


#11

From reading many of the posts on this site what I’m learning is that there is very little advantage to having this type of setup. The marketing all seems to say that you can harvest honey with little disruption to the bees. But instead I’m seeing folks open up hives and pull frames to inspect before harvesting. Makes sense because you need to see if the frames are capped. But, if I’m opening up the hive then I might as well harvest it then.

What’s the benefit of this system?


#13

Have you ever harvested honey the “traditional” way? I have done both crush/strain and uncapping/spinning. It is incredibly messy and time-consuming for me. It might be easy if you have a dedicated honey house, but I don’t. So if I need to extract the traditional way, here is what I would have to do:

  1. Take the hive apart and put a bee escape under the super for harvesting
  2. Wait a day and make space in the kitchen
  3. Go down to the garage and drag the spinner (or crush and strain buckets) up to the kitchen. My spinner weighs around 30lb - not easy to drag it up 16 stairs to the kitchen.
  4. Put newspaper all over the kitchen floor and bring the super in from the hive.
  5. Heat up the uncapping knife and uncap each frame before spinning. Or cut the comb out of each frame and crush it in my 2 bucket set up
  6. Strain the wax particles out of the honey, then jar it.
  7. Clean up the kitchen and decide what to do with empty super, plus any wax/cappings etc.

For me, this is a 3-4 hour process, even for just one super of comb. It gets pretty intimidating if I have 3 supers from each of 3 or 4 hives.

The Flow frames mean I can harvest the honey outside, by the hive. If there is a spill, it doesn’t get all over the house. It goes straight into a storage jar, and doesn’t need any further straining to remove wax etc. I might have to wait for an hour or so for the frame to drain into my 64oz jar, but it doesn’t require constant supervision or much effort. Huge time and mess saver. I love it. :blush:


#14

Love your thoughts here. As a beginner this is exactly where I am at. I cracked my first 2 frames last week and got 5.7kg in about 25minutes, keying about 25% every 5 minutes to control the flow. It was so easy. About 2 weeks ago I had inspected and had 2 frames at about 80-90%. Frustrated, it’s been so dry here since September, I keyed 15% (from #2) and got a small jar full, perhaps not fully capped but good to go. Knowing that I was getting close I could easily tell from the rear viewing window that the frames ## 3&4 were full so checked one briefly and moved in! I am now intrigued to see how quickly they begin to refill and whether the other fill quickly enabling perhaps one more harvest before leaving the hive for storage.


#15

Thank you! What I didn’t add is that as I am more than half a century old, I then have to spend a week taking painkillers and doing physiotherapy exercises for my back, if I extract honey the old way. So, the Flow frames save me a fortune in pills and medical bills too… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#16

Wow. Yes I must admit until I started I hadn’t imagined that beekeeping especially in the heat was hard work. Do you manage checking the brood? Lifting the Super off will be v difficult.


#17

Old and decrepit, but sneaky too. :joy:

Yes I can manage. I always have one or two empty boxes next to the hive I am inspecting. Then I can just take out half of the frames as I look at them and put them into the empty box. The previously full box now weighs just over half of what it did, and I can lift it off to look at the next box down. Rinse and repeat until the inspection is complete. :smile:


#18

Yay we’ve just done our first harvest!
Sneaky bees have left the end cells at the end window uncapped fooling me into thinking they were still empty…
Drained the centre Ff (Gf colony) and got 2.93kgs. Was expecting a bit more however I’ll call it $45 return for my $2500 investment… So far… 164kg to go ;).
I did it in 5ths and all went great, I kept the air gap at the top of the tube and had no problems, very happy.
How does Marri honey taste?
Niiiice. :slight_smile:
How long before they refil? I’ll let you know.


#19

Yay @skeggley, congratulations! Near 3 kg is good for harvesting that frame the first time. The bees tend to build out fatter the next time round. Yep, and they keep fooling us by what they show us in the end cells.
Did you get to do a refractometer test? No matter, near 3 kg, it’s almost certainly ok. And if your flow is keeping on, in 2 weeks that frame will be full again, and fatter and yield near 3.5kg.
One day I will get a taste of that Marri of yours over in the West.


#20

At my end, about 4 weeks later, all frames were full again! Harvested all 6 frames this week, and put on an ‘ideal’ box, so they have a bit more room (bees were overflowing the front of the hive at night). They swarmed early last spring, so don’t want to be caught again… Although I’ll be doing an earlier inspection in winter now.


#21

Thanks @Webclan I appreciate your input. No refractometer needed all cells capped and probably been ready for a couple of weeks! It’ll be interesting how the colony behaves tomorrow.
It’ll also be interesting to see how much weight in the next crop of the centre frame.
I’m wondering if it’s the forward slope with the solid bottom board or the light through the end viewing that is keeping the end cells not filled.
BTW it’s actually the BW colony.

@goshenw, I was waiting for the first fine day after winter to inspect and they swarmed that day… While I was at work… Once again they pulled the wool over my eyes, cheeky buggers.
:slight_smile:


#22

Don’t think it’s the forward slope of your BB, rather the light we let in when we look into the cells from behind, especially when we give the box an additional knock maybe? I noticed the bees aren’t as shifty with the darker back cells.
I also noticed a difference in water %age when it’s a real humid day compared to a sunny dry day when there has been no rain for days, regardless of full capping, even if I have a rather tight plastic bag tied to my jar and the extraction tube. So I think harvesting on a dry day is better. Can make a difference of close to .5%.