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Harvesting the honey - quick question

Hi everyone
I am about to do my first honey harvest ever - my 1 flow hive is my only hive and this is my first year (I’m trying my hardest at it all).
The logistics of honey harvest… does anyone have a link to a flow instructional video? Because I have a few questions…

  • The flow harvest won’t harm the bees when they’re inside the flow super? Just like that, I just leave them in there while I harvest the honey?
  • Once I’ve got all the honey out, do I just open up the super and shake the bees into the brood box as much as possible, and take the flow super away?
  • What do I do with the flow frames and super to clean it? So it can be stored away nice and sanitary for the winter.
    Any and all tips and suggestions are appreciated!!!
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Not really directly instructional, but here is a video of our first Flow harvest, with a few tips:

You do, and usually the harvest doesn’t bother them at all. However, there are some important things to remember. Most important is to open the frames in 20 to 25% increments, and wait for 5 minutes or so before opening the next section. The reason is to avoid an airlock in the Flow tube, which can cause flooding into the hive. The other thing is to inspect the frames for capping before harvesting. This is partly to make sure the honey is ripe, but also to see if there is a large arc of uncapped cells. If so, you may get more leaks, but you can still harvest cautiously.

Sort of. What I normally do is leave the super in place for a couple of days. There will be some honey and cappings left on the frames. The bees usually tidy this up within a few days, which saves me from doing it! :blush:

I haven’t really needed to clean mine, except when bees died in it from insecticide poisoning. For a normal hive, just take off the super and freeze the frames wrapped in plastic cling wrap for 24 hours. This kills off any wax moth eggs. I then take off the plastic, and store them in the super in the garage over winter, tightly wrapping the box in burlap/hessian to keep wax moths out. The fabric allows some airflow, which helps prevent mildew from forming.

We did our first harvest from the flow frames this year and unfortunately had a bunch of leaking out if the sides. What the good news is we had removed the hive body and harvested it in the kitchen so it did not get into the hive, I placed it on top of a meat lug (fit perfectly) and that caught any honey that spilled out. We were in the same boat as you preparing harvest and you need to remove for winter anyway. We used a fume board and drive the bees out first so the frames were empty of bees before removing.
After the harvest was complete I closed the flow frames and put the hive body back on the hive above the top board and the bees cleaned the flow frames all up in a few days. Then removed the hive body with the flow frames and set on my patio (under roof) and the bees went back after a few days. (I could have removed it and used the fume board again outside of the hive but I wasn’t in a big hurry).

Don’t forget to have a tilt of 3 to 5 degrees to the back of the hive or you will get internal flooding of honey in the hive. That makes the drain tube the lowest point of the draining chamber. When you have opened all of the frame let it drain completely so that there is no honey accumulating at the drain tube slot otherwise the bees will clean up the honey and take it back to the super.
If you don’t have a clearing board shaking the bees off is an option, but a clearing board won’t cause any stress to the bees. You just fit it under the super and in a couple of days the bees will already be out of the super and down in the brood area. After a couple of days you just remove it and do as Dawn has suggested for storing it for the Winter.

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Did you tilt it, as @Peter48 suggests, plus open it in sections? When I did this last year in my kitchen, I got no more than about 50ml (less than 2 oz) of honey leaking onto the large cookie sheets I had put it on.

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Sure did @Dawn_SD, even opened in small increments. It drained on the outside of the frames like the wax caps cracked or something. I did read this happened to some other people but only the first harvest. I will try it again in the spring. I ended up with a quart out of the 6 frames.

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Sounds likely. The only other thing I can think of is that using 2 Flow keys at the same time really helps. You can see 2 keys in my photo. We turn them in opposing directions (one clockwise, the other counterclockwise). It stops the frames from flexing when you turn the keys together, and that helps to keep the wax caps intact. Also harvesting somewhere warm (like my kitchen :wink: ) keeps the wax soft, rather than brittle if the air is cooler. Of course on top of the hive, the wax will be nice and warm, usually. :blush:

I had flooding in my first extraction but I really have to put it down to human error. Expecting an instant flow into the draining tubes, cracking the next 20% of the frame before it had almost stopped draining and generally rushing the whole process, I would love to say it was because it was the first extraction :wink:
Another tip is to crack the frame using two keys, if you have a second one, it stops any twisting of the frame as you turn the key to open the frame.
Also use a spirit level to make sure the hive is sitting vertical and not with a tilt to one side or the other as a tilt can cause the honey to not drain down thru the frame but off to the side. No sideways tilt is as critical as the 3 to 5 degree tilt to the back of the hive(the drain tube end).

Thanks to everyone for answering my questions in such detail. I had no clue that the back flooding was a real possibility here. I figured from the Flow Hive video it was as easy as it looks. Now that I understand more, I’m wondering if I’m totally screwed that ill be harvesting my uncapped flow frames? Because fall is coming early this year and I’m in cold Canada I need to give the bees some time to forage from the last of our wildflowers for winter stores. So I have to harvest and remove the flow super in a timely manner.
So this is going to put me at risk for a lot of this leaking? Is that the general consensus?

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You will only really know when you try it. I suggest starting with just 20% of a frame and wait 5-10 minutes. Pull out the core flute slider, and if it is covered with honey, stop there and think again.

If you have a big leak, you can take the super off and empty the rest of it inside the house. Not a big deal. Don’t worry, the first time is the hardest! :blush:

Great. Thank you. Maybe I will just give it a quick try. I’ll keep you posted!

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Flooding can happen anywhere Joanna, and especially when you are extracting uncapped honey as it is much thinner than after it is capped with a lower moisture content.
Flow Hives videos are about showing how great the Flow Hive system can be, there can also be issues like flooding. It is a fact of life that advertising ignores even minor negatives. Have you seen an ad on TV from a car manufacturers showing one of there cars broken down on the side of a lonely road for example.
I’m not knocking the Flow Hive product, I have 4 of their hives and experienced the good as well as the issues that I have had to overcome with the help of the forum here.
As you are extracting uncapped frames I would do the frames off the hive just to play it safe.

Peter, it’s hard to compare car advertizing with flow advertizing. I don’t see any deceptive advertizing in any car ads on tv. Motor cars usually perform as advertized on tv. They do break down, but that’s what warranty is all about.

I agree with you in relation to harvesting the honey away from the hive. I believe that honey flooding onto the brood is disruptive to the bees.

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What I was pointing out that advertising only show the good side of a product and its features in any advertising whether it be about cars or the Flow Hive. The Flow Hive has certainly changed bee keeping and introduced it to tens of thousands of folks that otherwise wouldn’t have got into it as a hobby and interest.
I personally wouldn’t extract uncapped honey with the super on the hive. My first experience of extracting was with capped honey and I had massive flooding before I found this forum and read the advice of partial opening of a frame to avoid flooding - and it worked for me. Any flooding of course disrupts the bees, bees are cleaning up the spill instead of what they normally do in a hive.

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Can you fins an extra flow key on the dlow hive website?

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hello there Dawn,

If I have the time- I leave mine dripping for 25 minutes between increments. Often our honey is below 16% moisture- and it moves quite slowly. Even slower if it is cold. There is no harm in leaving it for a long time if you have the hive in your yard and are around during the day. It is surprising how quickly bees can lick up a spill if they have the time and are not overwhelmed. The slower you do it the less chance of any harm being done.

Another thing we do is only harvest two flow frames per day if we have the time to spare- that way any leaking is confined to only a portion of the hive and gives the bees time and space to lick it up before it pools or causes any big issues.

@JoannaD if your plan is to remove the box for winter- you can harvest it off the hive. You’ll want another hive box to put the frames in if you do this:

  1. take the frames out one by one and shake the bees off over the box. Use a brush to brush off the bees that don’t get shaken off. Just brush them very lightly with the tips of the brush hair- it will coax them off without hurting them. Put the frames in your spare box (you can use a standard hive box- the frames won’t sit perfectly but good enough).

  2. Once you have them all removed you can remove the flow super and shake all the last bees out. You can place that box beside the hive until the very last bees have left. then put the flow frames back into the flow box and take it inside to harvest.

  3. Put it on a table with a large baking tray underneath and the box propped up at a 35 degree angle with the harvest end at the edge of the table. Put your bucket underneath with a fine strainer on top and you can crack all the frames 100% in one go (use two tools if you have an extra one). More honey will leak this way (especially if it is uncapped and runny). Most of that will be caught on the tray. Don’t be alarmed by these leaks as they are not what would happen if you used the incremental method on the hive…

If you don’t have an extra tool- just place the key right in the middle of the slot and do small increments. After you have turnd it in the middle move it to each side and turn so it cracks evenly.

  1. If that honey is not ripe (too watery) you can freeze it to feed back to the bees later.

  2. you can wash the frame by soaking them in water and then letting them air dry- then you can store the frames in a cool, dark and dry place over winter.

Hi Pete, so much for shorts & a t shirt. I put my jacket over my bee suit this morning. I finished at 8.30 & didn’t even look like takng it off.

I have a cranky hive to deal with this afternoon. At least it’ll be comfortable working.

You can buy an extra key by emailing honeyflow.com and placing the order but it isn’t showing on the web site.

It is a much cooler day and a bit cooler with the wind chill factor added. It is only 21c (70F), I’m wiring and fitting foundation to another 50 frames today, in jeans and a jumper :wink::wink:
Catch up with you later in the week mate,

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Absolutely. $15 and totally worth it. :grin: