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Honey full brood box & uncapped nectar in Flowframe-winter is coming

I have a 5 year old flow hive and many harvest successes. I lost my colony over the winter last year. Last spring I added a new nuc and let them mostly build out the brood box frames before I put the Flow Hive honey super on. Now, I have a honey bounty in the brood box and 2 frames of 1/2 uncapped nectar in my Flow frames. I live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and our nectar flow has ended…winter is coming! I’ve left the honey super on about 2 weeks longer than normal and still uncapped. If I let the bees take the nectar from the honey super, where will they put it? Or do I harvest and feed it back to them later? If so, how do I do that? Or, any other suggestions? I usually start feeding them this time of year but now I don’t know what to do. Thanks for your help!

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They may not do that until it’s really cold and might leave the queen behind to freeze, so I wouldn’t recommend (and wouldn’t recommend removing the Qx either).

I think this is your best option - harvest off the hive to minimize spillage and test the water content. @Dawn_SD is currently replying and will probably give you pointers on this… It may be low enough to keep, but if it’s not, keep it in the freezer or feed it back to them with an in-hive feeder.

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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum! :blush:

I would take it off ASAP, otherwise they will put propolis all over the Flow super, which is a BAD thing… :wink:

Bees often do not cap the last honey of the season. Couple of reasons for that. First, the weather is cooler and it is harder for them to work their wax flakes into caps. Second, they know that “winter is coming” and it is a waste of energy to cap something that they will soon need. If the brood box(es) is/are stuffed with honey, they will have nowhere to put it, you are correct. So you should take it and feed them something suitable for cooler conditions. Once the night temps drop below about 55°F, they are often reluctant to take syrup, as you probably know by your fifth year, so fondant or solid sugar would be good.

For my last harvest of the season, I harvest in my kitchen. That is because there are almost always large areas of uncapped honey, and I don’t want a leak in the hive. I use a bee escape below the super to clear out the bees for 24-48 hours, then drain the frames using a setup like this:

I test the honey using a honey refractometer (about $30-40 from Amazon) and if it is 18.6% water or less, I am happy to sell it or give it away. If the water content is higher than that, then I freeze it, and the bees get it back later as a spring feed in a standard in-hive feeder in February or March - whenever the temperatures are back above 55°F.

Please ask if anything is not clear. :wink:

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Hi Amy, I wouldn’t suggest to harvest flow frames away from the hive. Harvest the unripe honey the way that Flow recommends, then consume it yourself. My wife & I consume a lot of unripe honey. There’s nothing wrong with it. Just store it in the freezer & take out what you need every couple of weeks.

If you insulate the hive well, you may find that you wont need any extra food on top of what you describe to carry the bees over winter.

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Thanks Dawn! The information you provided is very helpful. I am happy going into winter knowing the bees have SO MUCH. Fingers crossed as I bundle them up and walk away during the snowy months when I can’t get to my hive.

Thanks for the feedback Jeff. I actually think as an early FlowHive owner that I accidentally harvested unripe honey and all was well. It was just a bit less viscous.

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