Harvesting question

Hi all, a question about harvesting.

Today we harvested out first 2 flow frames out of the 6. The inner 4 were full, but the out 2 were half full (only inner side had honey). We harvested the inner 2 frames without too much hassle.

Now I’ve noticed that the bees seem to be draining out the other un-harvested frames on their own. This seems to have happened pretty quickly in an afternoon. Is this some sort of reaction to me harvesting partially? Or has opening the flow caused a partial leak?

We were not planning to fully clear out the whole flow and leave them some for Autumn/Winter (late summer here in Melbourne).

In terms of hive configuration, we have 3 levels in total. The bottom entrance level (brood), the middle (expanded brood) and the flow on top.

I was tempted to fully harvest the flow, but it’s been too heavy to life off to see if there is any honey storage in the middle brood level.

I don’t have Flow frames yet, but I have seen that in honey supers of traditional hives. If you remove the middle frames of honey and replace them with empty comb, the bees often like to “tidy up”. They move the outer honey into the middle frames again. Very hard working little things! :smile: I guess it reflects their love of a basically spherical or elliptical home, with the precious stuff stored in the centre.


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Thanks Dawn,

They seem to have pretty much fully cleared out the remaining flow frames overnight. I’m a bit worried now.

I’m reluctant to disturb them at the moment.

Any signs of robbing that you can detect? Like a lot of fighting bees in front of the hive and dead bees on the ground? If not, it might be worth an inspection to see what is happening in the brood box, just in case they are preparing to swarm.

Hi Dawn,

No signs of robbing, fighting or dead bees. I will check the 2 brood boxes.

Are there any clear signs of a swarm about to happen from the brood?

I’m starting to wonder if they are taking the honey out and moving off with it?

@Dee posted a very nice article suggestion in this other thread. You might find it helpful. You should look for queen cells, especially mature ones. The article tells you how to do that:

If you have 2 brood boxes, and you are moving into autumn, they may just be moving the honey down so that it is closer to the brood. Hopefully that is all that is happening, and all will be well. :wink:

Thanks again Dawn,

I just cracked open the hive, and took a look at the flow and top (technically middle) brood.

What was supposed to be brood in the middle seems to be pretty full with honey. This was also the case when I last checked about a month back. So all I can assume is the queen has just not felt the need to lay there. There were also some larvae too. Basically there is a lot of honey in the top brood, so I doubt I have to worry about taking more.

Onto the flow box

Assuming I actually got all the honey from the centre 2 frames, the girls seem to be moving the honey to the back of the flow frames (away from the observation window).

The other thing I’m thinking is perhaps the flow frames did not fully open, and only opened at the front for some reason.

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Great news and good on you for looking in there. It is always better to deal with the known, than worry about the unknown. :smile:

Yeah, a bit of a relief. I will have to keep an eye on them.

I’m wondering now why the flow frames did not fully open…

If it was the cells at the front of the hive, could it be that the Flow key didn’t go all of the way in?

One thing that others have commented on is that it is easier to be sure to get all of the cells fully open if you do it sections. So you might put the key in 10cm, turn it vertical, then go back to horizontal, push in another 10cm, turn, and keep repeating until the whole frame is open.

Ah, good to know, I did not see that mentioned in other topics. I was wondering why I only managed to get 2.5 jars from 2 frames. Last year a single harvest from non-flow was about 20 jars.

Hi @Ednamakepeace, if you get less honey than you anticipate out of the flow frames, it would be a good idea to do a simple test to see if the honey is ripe or not. That way you’ll know if you can store the honey for long periods or not.

Another bloke posted that he’s regularly getting 3 kilograms of honey from each frame.

Prior to harvesting the honey from your middle frames did you inspect those frames to ensure they were fully capped? If not then there is every chance that they hadn’t finished filling those cells. Also, once the wax has been disrupted on the frames, the bees will have to produce more wax to repair them, this requires food, a lot of food. 7 kilos of honey is needed to produce 1 kilo of wax. So don’t panic , be patient they are most likely moving the honey to other cells (such as in the brood chamber) and some will be consumed to rebuild/repair the frames.

This just happened to me!! Harvested 2 frames and now, at least from the flow end it looks empty!
Sounds normal thank goodness. Will harvest it all at once next time :slight_smile:

This is it during harvest, and now you can’t see any honey at all in any of the frames from this view.

did you check that all the cells were capped? To me, it seems that a lot of what you can see in the other frames is nectar?

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Hi Phil, the frames I harvested were 99% capped. the ones that are on the edge with some honey/nectar in them on the edges are now bare, even though they were untouched while harvesting.

I think your real problem is that your Flow hive is on its side - all of the honey must be pooling on the side wall! :smile: Joking, but I couldn’t resist. :wink:

Very interesting observation you made though. It looks like it happens to some, but not to others. Will be interesting to get more information from users as time goes by. Thank you for posting your experience.



haha funny Dawn!

3 weeks after harvesting the middle 2 frames, my bees didnt move anything around from the other frames. so i think when i do the Autumn inspection, ill move the middle 2 to the outside rotating frames 3 and 6 to the middle to keep as much honey in the middle as possible. This to mimic what will happen to the brood during winter.

Just did the final harvest of 4 frames. This time to kept opening the flow all the way in stage by stage, the honey poured out. We ended up with a harvest of nearly 20kgs all up! Far more than we need.

I did notice they bees don’t seem to like filling up any exterior sides, near the viewing windows. I’m not sure why, but it’s really not a big deal.

photos or videos of the harvest?!?! :slight_smile: