I’m thinking of harvesting my flow frames today. They’re really full. The only thing is it’s raining. (Location: Melbourne, Aust. Outside temperature: about 20 degrees) All the bees are going to be inside. Is this a problem? I have a greenhouse very close to my flow hive and I’m planning on bringing a tube extension into the greenhouse and harvesting in there so I myself would be outside of the rain. It would also prevent any beers getting too the honey even when it’s a sunny day. Anyway what do people think - is it ok to harvest on a rainy day? Thanks for any advice!
I would not do my first harvest when it was raining. Harvesting is not urgent. I would wait a few days for better weather.
Thanks so much Dawn. I can wait. But I am curious as to your reasoning. It might help me to understand more about the bees.
Honey is Hydroscopic from what i hear so once it is uncapped it will absorb moisture which will bring your water content up in honey and it may crystalise.
Hi Steve, I have no issue with harvesting in the rain except you’ll probably get wet. You could put a tarp over the process & only harvest one frame at a time, keep an eye on any back pressure & spillage over the brood.
Honey is hygroscopic. Bear that in mind, so get the honey out & the lids on quick, you should be right.
Bees can/will have a negative attitude while it’s raining. Something else to consider. Also they’ll be hungry for honey, they’ll turn up to eat the honey your harvesting much, much quicker than if it wasn’t raining.
@JeffH already answered with my main reasons!
- Bees are much more defensive in bad weather (rain), so you would do well to suit up if you are determined to harvest anyway.
- Honey is hygroscopic, so you may want to drain into a closed container, not risk an open one.
- If anything goes wrong (honey flooding internally etc), you do not have good weather to open the hive and help the bees out by removing a leaking frame, etc. You could still do that, but the bees will not like it, and you will chill the hive.
It’s not moisture content that makes honey crystallise but the amount of glucose in it.
Dawn_SD summarized well the why harvesting in rainy weather is not so wise.
As one with lots of history working outyards a considerable distance from home, I can tell you that short of not being able to return for a long time in better weather, I would never remove honey in damp or rainy weather. It’s often a “bee-ginner’s” mistake but once you crack a hive open lots of things are going on…heat loss, humidity control in the whole hive (including brood box) is lost, an unexpected downpour can “drown the bees” so to speak and drop their body temps as well as that of the hive to unacceptable levels…including chilling the brood which is often fatal. In addition, outside contaminants and dirt can be washed or flushed into the hive which can jeopardize the cleanliness of the honey as well as safe consumption.
Even setting aside the above, the temperament issue is enough reason to stay out of the apiary when rain, dampness, or electrical disturbances are going on. A thunderstorm miles away with lightning affects bees as they are sensitive to electrostatic/electromagnetic fields. The result is a bee that likely “feels bad” and doesn’t know why…so they sit and sharpen those stingers waiting for someone to come along!
So for me, it’s not what a disciplined beekeeper would do except in extremely unusual circumstances. Working with the bees as a “partner” that understands their needs and nature, doesn’t bring me to the conclusion that rainy or damp weather is a good day to open a hive.
Thanks for the advice Gary - certainly very valid pointers for a newbie!
So it’s up with the feet and have that beer or three.
But hey it’s Melbourne we are talking about here,… wait another hour or so and you will be in a heat wave.
I agree with not going into the hive in rainy weather but the caveat here is that if you HAVE to do something then weather is unimportant. If you have to attend to splits, if you have to check for swarm cells, if you have to introduce a new queen then take a mate and an umbrella.