So, I’ve read alot about people’s experiences harvesting their flow frames and decided on the following approach. It was quite successful and relatively easy. It also seemed to mitigate most issues with bees being attracted to the flowing honey.
Pre-harvest I spent alot of time reading the forum and discovered that a number of folk harvesting for the first time had suffered significant honey seepage through the bottom of the flow frames and into the hive - killing countless bees. I concluded the same as a number of people and figured it was largely due to the collection chamber overflowing at the bottom of the frame, so the first thing I did was split the frame in fifths when I turned the key - and have patience.
Only opening 20% of the frame each turn did test my patience at first but it did prevent any significant spillage. Where the frame was full in each section opened it helped ensure no overflow issues, and where that section wasn’t full it just meant I opened the next 20% sooner. I opened each additional 20% once the honey flowing through the tube had reduced to filling about 1/3 - 1/4 of the tube volume.
From the image you will also notice that I used a clearer board with the roof slightly cracked. I took this approach because I had no idea how long the harvest would take and it has been quite warm. By the end of the harvest (a few hours later) nearly all of the bees and vacated the super and moved back to the brood box/other super.
The second roof that I used under the super was for extra precaution. It did isolate the super I was extracting (and thus meant lifting the super…) but it did ensure any potential spillage could be easily cleaned. I found insignicant spillage during the harvest itself, but because I didn’t wait for the collection chamber to fully empty before shifting to the next frame it appears that the bottom of the frames did still weep.
At the end of the harvest I had about 100mL spillage ontop of the roof from 2 frames, which was easily cleaned. Checking the frames 12hrs later and it would seem that the bees have emptied nearly all of what honey remained in the collection chambers. And this leads me to ask this question:
Q1. What are others doing about the residual honey in the collection chambers? Do you wait for it to fully drain before stopping?
The other thing to perhaps mention, is that I’m collecting the honey in a foodsafe plastic bucket. I’ve got two lids - one in perfect condition and one that I’ve cut a 25mm hole in for the drain tubes to slot in. I will start draining multiple frames so will cut additional holes, but I will be covering the holes if I’m not harvesting multiple frames to avoid issues with bees being attracted to the flowing honey.
Perhaps it is just my bees but I’ve discovered that so long as I do not disturb the brood box with a complete inspection they pretty much leave me alone while harvesting. However, if I attempt to harvest a full brood box inspection…well, that’s a different story!
End note: I use a hydrometer to check the moisture content of the honey. As a result, I’m nearly always going to be taking a look inside to some degree before I harvest. Thus, I don’t mind lifting the super and sliding the roof underneath to act as a drip tray.