Hi, our girls are active and producing heaps of honey. Our super frames are all being worked on and all have some honey. The middle ones are probably about 95% full and about two thirds capped…is it ok to harvest at that stage or does the entire frame need to be full and capped?? We’ve got two brood boxes on, both of which have honey stores and brood…so I’m pretty sure there’s enough honey to keep them going well. We’re only thinking about harvesting one or two frames from the super box and leaving the rest for them to use over winter…but they do seem to be slow in capping the super frames. Can i test the uncapped honey with a refractometer as a way of checking whether its ok to harvest even thought its not capped??? Any advice gratefully received. Ta
You are able to harvest any of the frames that are at least 80% capped.
As the bees tend to work from the inside of the hive out, it is hard to say whether your outer frames are also fully (or nearly fully) capped.
At this time of year I would probably harvest the inner ones that you know are ready and leave the rest for the bees, but there are others on here who know far more than me and may advise you that you can comfortably harvest a little more
You don’t need to use the refractometer. Don’t extract a frame until it is at least 80% capped and it is then ripe honey, Bees will store nectar when there is a flow on but it is not honey till it has been capped.
I have a refractometer but seldom use it, if it is capped then it is ready for extraction, if it isn’t capped leave the frame till it is.
You don’t have to extract every frame at the same time, just take what your need are and leave the rest in case the bees need it. Check the frame visually by removing them before you decide to extract a frame.
Thanks very much for this
Thanks Peter…i appreciate your help
Happy to be of help, I can still remember 45+ years ago and starting out with bees. Really daunting with no internet, forum, etc but I had a great mentor who gave me heaps of time to show and explain so much
Before you harvest, hows the flow going?
It seems, from down South posters, that there’s been a flow earlier then up this way.
Personally, I like to wait until the outside frames are being capped before extracting the central frames, two at a time. Incrementally.
This way you can pretty much guarantee the honey will be <18% w/c and checking wit a refractometer is mere formality.
Patience is a virtue.
Generally, during a flow, swarming tendency’s are exhibited so beware.
Yeah right, just one hive, good luck with that.
Have another box handy.
I don’t have a refractometer, and refuse to buy one. I’m in no rush to harvest, until honey is capped.
When I first saw on the internet about a honey refractometer I thought WOW and ordered one. A real absent minded moment of not thinking. When I got it I calibrated it and used it a few times knowing the honey would be ripe which was confirmed but the novelty wore off and it is now in a cardboard box with other equally important bee keeping junk accumulating dust.
Hi, they’re seemingly going gangbusters…lots of activity. We have two brood boxes in and both have brood turning over and honey stores, and lots of bees.
The honey super has lots of busy bees and honey, some capped, some not. They seem to be coming in pretty much laden with pollen - we’ve had good forage so far and the marri and ficifolias have now all come on as the other stuff is fading. But they are slow to cap the honey super…as i said some of the inner frames are two thirds + capped. Others capped in parts but nowhere near as much as the inside frames. I was concerned about the possibility of them swarming but a local bee bloke said the swarming season was over… ???
We were concerned about room for more brood but the bottom box in particular seems to turnover well.
We’re not fussed about honey for us though which is why we were thinking of only taking one or at the most two frames and leaving the rest for the girls. There’s also good honey stores in the brood boxes. Very new to so all suggestions gratefully accepted.
I believe prayer works. People have been praying for rain. Their prayers finally got answered.
Patience Karen, remember in a worker bees life time it will only bring 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey back to the hive. Things don’t seem to be happening very fast but the bees will be working their behinds off.
Over here swarming season is regarded as early Spring, around mid September till the end of October, but with the recent rain and a sudden flow of excess nectar after a dearth for the last 15 months because of the drought the hives are thinking it is Spring again and some hives are exploding and if not managed it is very likely that swarming is on the cards.
About the taking of honey my idea is that a happy colony has chores to do so I like to take honey so the girls will have work to do in cleaning up the frames after extracting and room to store the honey. It is more likely for a hive to swarm with so much honey and pollen that they have no more room to store more, a bee can’t just stop foraging, where on the other hand a colony will happily work during a flow if there is room in the hive for the honey that will greatly reduce the idea of swarming.
Chances are it is not yet ready to be capped. Just trust your bees and you’ll be fine.
You should be very thankful for them Jeff. You won’t have rain otherwise.
Unfortunately, people around here have been praying for extra hot days of over 40 degrees.