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It's been 6 months and the frames are only filled in the middle - can we still harvest?

Our bees have been busy for 6 months now (this is our first time) and every time we open the frames to examine, the honey is filled in the middle of the frames but not the sides - and especially not the sides near the window. Can we still try to harvest since it has been almost a full 6 months? And does the honey need to be all capped in order to harvest also?

And finally, why are the bees not filling out the entire frame?

Welcome to the forum Camille, a great place for advice and tips.
Remove any frame that you think is capped and look at both sides and if it is 80% or more capped then you can drain that frame. Those that are less than 80% capped should be left in the hive, if you drain them the honey (actually it is still nectar) has too high a water content and will ferment and spoil.
You can drain individual frames that are capped.
Bee can only fill frames when there is enough nectar about and the colony is strong enough to take advantage of the flow. Nectar supply isn’t consistent thru the year, it will fluctuate or even stop.
Hope that answers your question.
Cheers

Thanks so much Peter! This is helpful. So, I guess my only other question is if the frame is NOT filled to the end near the window/tube insertion side, should we continue to wait to harvest, even if 80% of the honey is capped in the middle? It seems to be so slow and we are in hot So California with flowers everywhere and busy bees and its been 6 months. I’m wondering if they will ever put honey on the sides and if not, will the honey still come out if not on the frame side closest to the tube insert? I really appreciate your response as I keep googling this question but can’t find any answers to this issue. Thank you!

Treat each frame individually in assessing if it is capped and ready to extract. One frame that is 80% capped or even better isn’t an indicator for the other frames. Normally bee will cap from the center out in filling and capping of a frames in the hive. Remove any frame that you feel might be ready and do an eye-ball inspection to confirm it is capped. I regard the window as entertainment value to show friend or family what is going on in a hive, don’t rely on a window for more than that. I have seen a frame that appeared 100% capped in the window but on removing it the outer edges were not capped and even worse the inside face of the frame wouldn’t have had more than 20% capped so if it was drained it would have fermented.
Explained better?
Cheers

Thank you…I apologize as I am probably not saying this right. The frames themselves have no honey deposits at all on 1/3 of the frame on each side…they are empty. It is the middle that is filled up with honey deposits (capped or not…need to check that part still). I am wondering if we have to wait to harvest until the entire frame (not just the middle) is filled or if the harvest will work if only the middle of the frame is filled? I understand the capping now - thank you!

Take the frame out and hold it with the sun over your shoulder and you might see the uncapped cells have nectar in them and not dry(empty). If that is what you find then it is not ripe enough to extract. When you see a cell with a liquid in it and it is not yet capped the liquid is in the process of having the water content lowered by the bees, When the bees cap it then it is ripe honey and can be taken. It is not common to see a frame with the center of the frame capped and the rest of the frame with no nectar in the cells, they will fill the center first then work their way across, up or down the frame till it is fully capped with wax and is then honey.
Cheers

Thank you so very much! Ok…heading out to look now. So it sounds like our bees are just very very slow at filling it all up then and we should not harvest until the entire frame is full of honey and 80% is capped. Blessings to you for your help.

Let me know what you see, there is many in California reporting that there is not a good honey flow over recent months. That could apply to where you live. Remember the bees can only harvest what they can collect so it isn’t the bees at fault. You hive probably is still building up in bee numbers and with your Winter coming it might be worth leaving the honey in the hive for the bees for winter food.

So…just looked and checked it all out. We are shocked…the honey super box is now completely EMPTY. Our honey is all gone! It has been 6 weeks since we last pulled it all out to check and back then it was 1/2 full of yellow nectar/honey and now it is totally empty as if someone came in and ate it all. I am so sad! The bottom box is totally full with tons and tons of bees. Any idea what could have taken all the honey? Lizards? Ants? There were very few bees in the top box. I can also do another post if you want me to ask others.

I will ping @Dawn_SD in San Diego California to come on board with some more local knowledge but I suspect your in a drought and so although you might be seeing heaps of flowers there is no nectar in them. In Australia last year there was a severe drought and the bush here still flowered but there was no nectar for the bees to take back to the hives so a lot of the bee keepers had to feed their hives and some that didn’t had their bees die completely.
If the hive has no capped honey then it will also have no nectar as the bees will eat it first. So in this case you will need to feed the bees with as much as they need, possibly even over Winter or at least till you get good rainfall and the flowers will produce nectar again.
Six weeks is a bit long between inspections, a lot can happen in that time to go wrong.
Cheers

Interesting. Thanks…what’s strange is the honey was there In the frames just 6 weeks ago but now it’s all gone as if a predator ate It all. The bees have plenty of honey in the bottom box to feed on It seems. Thanks for the extra support. I can post a different topic also or search for more info. We are about an hour north of LA.

Blessings,
Camille

Hiya Camille, yes there are others on this forum it’s just they don’t get a chance to answer…
Bees are hoarders. In times of plenty they store their excess in the attic, or super, and when nectar sources get scarce they will utilise their stores for the colony’s survival.
Generally spring time through summer is when the supers fill however this is not a given as local climate varies.
Rule of thumb is not to expect a harvest for the first year as the colony builds its resources in preparation for winter.
Often as winter approaches the queen will lay less eggs so the brood area will contract and these empty cells need to be filled to keep the remaining brood insulated and bring the supplies closer to the cluster.
This is likely where the honey went.
Hopefully someone else in your area on the forum can give advice on winter preparation.

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The bees will consume the honey that is further from the brood first so that is normal bee behavior. As I said a lot can go wrong in six weeks. If a predator had eaten the honey they would have gone for the honey in the brood box closest to the entrance and not gone past it to take the honey from the super.
When Dawn come on-line I’m confident she will say the same as I have. Most of the West Coast in the US is reporting a drought.
Up till last March the East coast of Australia was in a severe drought for the previous 12 months.
Cheers.

Thank you so much! I appreciate your response also and the more the merrier for me as I learn from all of you! This helps me understand better. I think the fact that we have had a very hot summer with many days well over 100 degrees may also have something to do with it. We will delay our expectations for a harvest then. Thanks again!!

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Ignore him and keep posting Peter.

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Welcome to the forum Sugarwater…

Welcome to the forum where you will find lots of reading, good advice and tips. I will take your advice, I enjoy passing on sound advice, that is what this forum should be about.
Cheers

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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum.

It is very difficult to know what you are seeing from this description. It would be incredibly helpful to have a photo of the capped surface of the frame. It is perfectly normal for bees to leave the edges of frames uncapped, so depending on what you are looking at, it could be fine, or it could prove a problem for harvesting.

By the way, in SoCal, most people take their last harvest in the beginning of July. The summer is so dry, that even if there are flowers, they don’t produce much nectar after that. As you have found out, if you don’t harvest in July, the bees may use it all up. Hopefully you have 2 brood boxes under your Flow super, so that they have enough stores for winter. If not, you will need to plan to feed. I would take the Flow super off now if it is empty. Once the nectar stops, the propolis starts, and you really don’t want propolis in the mechanism of your Flow frames! :wink:

Sorry I couldn’t answer sooner. Our house is being tented for termites on Monday, and I have spent the last 14 hours bagging food and preparing the area around the house for the tarps… :cry:

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Thank you so much for this helpful information! I may have a follow up question once I talk to my husband. I didn’t know much of what you shared and so I really appreciate you taking the time to share It. I hope your termite killing is successful!

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