I have a flow hive (7 frames) which has a very healthy population of bees and a very large amount of available trees and other vegetation in the surrounding area. I started the hive in October 2019 and drew honey from most frames in December 2019 and again from a few frames in March 2020. This season I have drawn honey from 5 frames a few weeks ago. I have a box, an ideal and the flow super making up the whole hive.
In all cases, I have waited for the beesto completely fill out and cap the cells at the back where they can be viewed and then given them another 2 weeks or so to ensure that everything is really filled and capped. The honey tastes fine and I still have some from last year which is in good shape so I’m pretty sure the honey is being harvested at the right time.
What concerns me is that I am only getting a little over 1kg of honey per frame. I have opened them on warm days and left them to drain until nothing is running out but this seems to be the limit of output from each frame. Our honey is quite light so it flows freely.
Can anybody relate their own experiences with weight per frame or suggest why I might be getting this sort of output?
You should be getting close to 3kg of honey per frame if the frame is at least 80% capped. So you have an issue.
Being in Newcastle I suspect the frames have ‘jelly bush’ (Tea Tree) in them and it won’t flow out of a Flow Frame so all that is draining is ‘normal’ honey. Tea Tree is a native shrub/small tree that is found in thick along the East coast.
So what I would do is to drain a frame and when the flow stop remove the frame and if there is still a heap of honey in the frame then it is a 90% chance it is Jelly Bush. Each Spring up here on the Sunshine Coast in Qld I remove my Flow Supers with the tea trees growing thick. With my Langstroth frames it won’t spin out of the frames in my electric extractor.
Check a frame and give us an update.
A bit more on Peter’s comment. If you live near a place where canola is grown you must harvest frequently so the honey does not candy in the frames. Probably not a problem in your case but worth filing away for possible future reference.
Thanks for adding to my post Rob, your dead right about Canola candying fast. It is easier to pick up when looking at a frame. Up here there is about a six week period of Tea Tree flowering in the Spring when I take my Flow Supers off and replace them with traditional supers. Jelly Bush honey doesn’t extract regardless of how long it spins at maximum speed in my electric extractor and the cells containing the JB honey has a definite reddish color to it. I do a crush and strain which can take a week for it to drain and separate. It brings a premium price but not enough for the effort.
I used to find it when I was in the Hawkesbury but nothing compared to up here.
How is your Spring yield down there?, up on last Spring I hope.
Thanks for the comments, we have tea tree on our property so maybe that is part of the problem but it does seem that the cells drain fully at the back where I can see them. I will look at pulling out a frame next time I take honey and see what’s left behind. It will be interesting to know although I already have more honey than I can eat, maybe time to start in putting it on the table at work for $5 a jar.
Being in Newcastle and with that problem I’m confident when you remove a drained frame there will be cells still full of honey. Look forward to an update Dean
How about pulling it out before you harvest? Bees often leave an unfilled arc of cells at the bottom of the center frames, for the queen to lay eggs. They don’t know that she can’t get through the queen excluder. If you have an arc of empty cells, you won’t see it from the end window, and the side windows don’t show you what is happening in the middle frames. That could well explain your low volume harvest.
I will try pulling a full frame as well, will be interesting to see the results.
Is there any way to remove that sticky honey?
Certainly better than last season. Basically got no honey last season, they were busy just surviving. Already taken half a box off this spring, its looking good.
Hard to imagine this time last year we were running all over the place chasing bushfires. It certainly was an “interesting” time, we started in Tenterfield in August and finished in the mountains in February. They wanted us to go down south but we were just worn out.
As Peter said you could crush and strain but that would be nasty with a flow frame
Last Summer I was feeding my hives and there was no nectar in the bush. Trees that flowered that normally attracted bees were not touched. No rain at all from Sept to March and since then it has been steady and better than average rainfall. A good cooler month flow and looking like a good flow till Summer at least.
I’m also in the Newcastle area - Woodrising - and started with a Flow hive this time last years. I get about 3 kg per frame.
When I harvest these days I remove and check each frame for coverage and only harvest from fully capped frames. If your frames are fully capped then it sounds like the honey is too thick. You’ll only know by removing and checking.