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Inconsistent harvest

Why is the amount of honey coming from a fully capped flow frame not always the same? I get really inconsistent amounts of honey. The frames have been fully filled and capped. Where does the missing honey go?

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Hi Jane,

In my experience I have found the first harvest to be the least of subsequent harvest (ie first harvest is 2.5kg, next is 2.8kg… up to a point) - I joke that the discrepancy is me tasting the harvest…

However, here are some factors for the discrepancy:

  • How far the bees draw the comb - this will change the volume
  • Leaks, first harvest tend to leak more compared to subsequent harvest
  • Nectar constituent - ie jelly bush/ manuka vs higher viscosity honey
  • How long you allow the frames to drain
  • Crystallised honey…

How big a discrepancy are you getting @JaneBee ?

Thanks Fred.

I have had my Flow hive a few years so it’s not the first time the frames are used. I harvest on nice days so honey drains well and leave it for a few hours so its fully drained. The difference this time is a about a kilo but I have had even worse. It’s very strange. Not the same frame either.

Hi Jane, you should be getting 2.8 to 3 kg of honey per frame.
My thought is maybe the bees are foraging and producing Jelly Bush honey and it won’t flow out of a Flow Frame despite the claims it does. The fact is it won’t spin out of a conventional frame in my electric extractor either, so if there is some Jelly bush honey in a frame you won’t get a good yield from the frame.
Did you remove the frame you selected to extract to do an eye-ball check that the frame was full and capped? I have been caught more than once with a frame almost totally capped on one side while the other side was maybe 50% capped. So that would be around 700 grams of honey missing from the frame.
I connect a plastic tube to the drain tube that goes into a hole in the lid of a honey pail and leave it connected with the frame open over night. It gives more time if the honey is thicker for it to drain.
Just some possibles that might answer your question,
Cheers

Sometimes I have found that the frames may take 6 to 8 hours to drain, especially if the honey has a low water content (less than 17%), making it more viscous. I the first kilo or two comes out fairly quickly, but the rest takes ages, just one drip at a time. I suspect that this may be happening to you too. :blush:

You’re more experienced than me…

I haven’t had this discrepancy yet, I’ll report back in a few years time… :rofl:

The bees can cap the cells below- or above the face. Sometimes you can see the ridges of the plastic sticking out through the capping. Other times the cells are capped maybe 3-4mm out from the surface. This may not seem like much but could easily add up to +/- 1 kg over an entire frame. Another possibility is a degree of candying- a frame might have cells that are half full of crystals- the honey flows out- the crystals stay (and they then ‘infect’ the next lot of honey to go in causing it to candy faster). If you have been in the habit of leaving your super on over winter then the odds of crystals persisting in the cells would be a lot higher.

Also I suppose honey density affects the weight/volume ratio but not sure if it would be enough to cause a noticeable difference.

This last season my mothers hive has been averaging only around 2.5 kgs per frame- even less. Other years it has been up to maybe 3.5.

the same is true for standard honey frames- the weight can vary substantially.

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Thanks for taking the time in replying. I always check that the frames are fully capped before harvesting as the window at the front is not a good indicator of that. I have always removed the super over winter. It just seems strange that only 1 frame produces so much less honey. Last time I harvested it happened too but a different frame. I was worried it has been leaking into the hive but both times I was not able to check the brood box after collecting the jar, as it was too late int the day. I believe they were left long enough as it stopped dripping in both instances. It must have been capped deeper; thus less honey?
Would the bees not remove the crystals before they fill the cells again?

I’m guilty of leaving a super on over winter and have had honey crystallize in the cells. I extracted on a warm day and could see the crystals flowing out the tube. However the 2 following harvests were fine and I’m sure the one this weekend will be fine also.
When the bees repair the damaged cells in the Fframes do they polish them like they do brood cells?
I also think the extraction volume depends on the season flow. We are having a good season this year and I’m getting worried the 5 litre buckets are going to overflow with 2 frames!

my plan is to leave my supers on over this winter… I’ve yet to see any of my honey crystalise, I guess time will tell…

yes- they do- but perhaps if there is a major flow on and no time, and a lot of crystals they may leave some. I am not 100% sure- but this seems to be what happened to one of our hives last season. I have seen crystals in suspension in honey through the rear panel inside capped cells. When I harvested I was able to see some crystals come out whilst the others remained.

Leaving on over winter may be perfectly viable in warmer areas- here in adelaide we don’t get much honey stored and can have issues with damp and mold so we prefer to remove them now.

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I never take my supers off in winter, and I didn’t even know I was “supposed” to. Isn’t it the point of leaving the supers there with honey so they have enough reserves to get them through the cold months?

I never had any crystallised honey either, or none that I noticed anyway. I think it depends on what the bees forage on.

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Not if you leave the qx on…
And mould will build up making the frames look filthy.


Guess which frames were left on over winter…

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Which side taste better?

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I don’t know - you tell me Skeggley :slight_smile: . The dark one looks a bit suss to me, but I just assumed the nectar they collected made it dark. Mine never became like that.

The problem I had, which I think is unrelated is that some honey keeps dripping in the chamber in the bottom - probably because I never leave it to drain long enough and I’m impatient. So I have to clean that before next harvest. There would be a bit of crud (wax or propolis) which I off course clean too. I never had mould though.

Now that I jinxed it, this winter I’m going to leave my supers there and guess what… all this :poop: is going to happen, right? And it is all your fault skeggley. :confounded:

I want to add, that I only have one brood box - I think skeggley runs two brood boxes, which makes more sense removing the super.

Where did you get mould @skeggley? I also leave mine on over winter, and notice the bees were still active in the super during winter. Never noticed any mould, the bees seem to keep them quite clean. Burr comb is another story…

Same honey, same colour and taste. :yum:
The bees dont seem to mind.

Sorry.:sunglasses:

Hey, I didn’t get it, the bees did, in fact it may not even be mould. I have another on a different colony and they’re propolized.


See the difference.

The other manky ones are 4 years old now and winter time there has been condensation in the window and the traditional frames would get mould on them in the hybrid.

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What’s your ventilation like? I don’t get that much condensation, but then I leave vents open in the roof all year round. I place some burlap on the crown board to retain the temperature.

Just the standard migratory lids 4 holer which is usually propolized anyway. To be clear its not dripping wet, just a fine mist on the plastic which I’d expect when you’ve got a bunch of breathing bees at 33° or so below and a 10° ambient.

Buuuut back to topic, inconsistent harvests are bound to happen although they seem, for me, to be getting consistently more which makes sense as I can see the comb extending in the rear window. You can see the difference in the above pics.
I certainly think if I got less than 2.5 kg from a frame I’d want to investigate. I don’t inspect the Fframes pre harvest anymore, I’ve have a pretty good feel of them.
And right there are some famous last words…:roll_eyes:

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Tape the Flow instructions to the observation glass but make sure the words facing the bees! :laughing:

It happens and is normal for all types of harvests.

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