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Only half litre of honey from one frame?

Hi just wondering if someone might know what’s happening here. My super seemed pretty full with 4 of the 6 frames full of honey and capped at the back. I had not yet harvested any honey from the hive so it was the first time it had been opened with the key. There is a 3 degree slope towards the rear of the hive. I progressively opened a seemingly full central frame and honey started flowing out but stopped when only half a litre of honey had flowed. I closed the frame and opened it again but that was it. Was expecting a lot more so not sure what’s happening. Any ideas!!

Noel, did you lift the frames out and actually see them fully capped? The reason I ask is that the middle frames of my flow super appear to be be full from just looking through the back window but the bees have left a large section of the middle empty and uncapped. If I were to harvest these seemingly full frames now I would find I have less than half my usual harvest. A few others on the forum have noted the same. The bees have been leaving room for the queen to lay even though she can’t get through the excluder. The brood box is probably pretty full of bees.

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Yep definitely should get 3+kg per fully capped frame.
Unless there’s jelly bush, canola or the like in the area. :wink:

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My guess is the honey has candied in the frame. We have had the exact same experience: fully capped frame- about half a KG of honey- in our case the frame was candied. This happened in mid-spring with a frame that had been left on the hive over winter. In our case the bees uncapped it and ate the candied honey- then refilled it and we were back in business.

You could remove that frame- get the bees off it- and have a closer look to see if there is candied honey in the cells.

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Thank you. That sounds feasible as the super has been on for over 6 months. The hive swarmed not long after the super went on so it’s taken a while for the colony to build up again. I’ll take the frame out and have a closer look when I get a chance.

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this is actually a reason to harvest frames as soon as they are ready- leaving honey for the bees can be problematic if it just candies in the frame. For this reason we will avoid leaving flow supers on over winter in the future.

Hi Jack,
I have one flow super half full and several standard hives with supers on with various degrees of honey in them.
Due to the shocking season here in South Australia including my home on Kangaroo Island I was planning on leaving all the supers on over this winter.
Your comments above now have me worried I may have to remove them all before winter ?

Hello there,
well- you don’t have to- but it would be my recommendation. The first year we removed our flow super- the next year we didn’t. As our bees forage throughout winter I was hoping they might actually collect some honey over winter. They didn’t really- they may have gathered some but nothing extra. They came out of winter with the honey from the previous year still in the frames. In some hives this honey candied- which is a bit of a pain. The next issue was that the flow frames would become blackened and discolored with mold- especially those parts that had no honey in them. There is an issue with moisture build up when you leave the super on. So my plan this year is to harvest the flow frames as winter starts and remove them. I don’t see any advantage to leaving them on. There may be unripe honey in the frames when it comes time to do this- that’s what happened the first year. We stored that honey in the freezer and either made mead out of it or fed it back to the bees.

This year in particular I think the bee populations will be down coming into winter and condensing them into one brood box should make them more snug to get through winter. Many of my hives have reasonable stores of honey in the brood box as the queens are not laying a large amount of brood, so the outermost frames are all honey.

If you do plan to leave supers on I would consider making quilted ventilated boxes to go on top - as as that may help to reduce moisture build up in the flow supers.

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Thanks Jack that all makes sense.
When the flow frames are drained before removing is it worth leaving them in the open position for a couple of days to allow the bees to completely remove any honey before removing the flow super ?
Did you wrap the frames in plastic wrap and freeze for a few days before storing over winter ?

I have already stored about 10 frames of capped standard frames ready to drop into the brood boxes if the bees need them over winter and like you I’ve noticed the queens have stopped laying and very little nectar coming in at the moment

the year we removed them- from memory we simply drained them and immediately removed them: but we put them in front of the hive for a day for the bees to have a go at (maybe risky and not really worth it- might set off robbing). Then we soaked them in warm water and air dried them- then stored them over winter in a cool room in a plastic tub with a lid. We did not freeze them. The next year the bees were very fast to fix up the wax and set to refilling them. I don’t think they need to be frozen- wax moth ignore empty flow frames in my experience and are hardly active in colder weather anyway.

This time I would drain- leave for a few days so the bees can remove and eat whatever honey they want- then remove- rinse dry- and store. Then I would hopefully get them back on actually a week or three before spring starts- as the spring flow often seems to come early and fast- and I think having them on the hive may give more room and reduce the likelihood of an early swarm (two of my hives surprised me and swarmed very early in spring this season- I had planned to super them but was a week or two slow).

Interesting you say your queens have stopped laying- I inspected some hives yesterday and one of them had hardly any brood at all- just a quarter of one frame or less. I saw the queen and she look fine- I am worried she is an underperformer- but maybe it’s just the season. I will let her go through to spring and see what she does then.

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hmm, there’s no telling with bees. After I wrote that yesterday I went and looked into another hive 3km away- and it had masses of fully capped brood across most frames. That queen was laying at full speed.

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Noel
Did you inspect the frame before harvesting?
I have attached a photo of one of the central frames from our flow super. At the back window all looks near full but reality is far from this. If we were to harvest this today we would be very disappointed with the result.

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Hi,

Thanks so much. Haven’t had a chance to pull the frames out yet. The side frames next to the window has no capped honey at this stage so I feel you might be on the money. It’s been very slow filling up despite being an apparently strong colony for at least 4 months. I did try to pull the frames out last time I checked the brood box but they were very stuck and couldn’t move them at all. I was worried I was about to break something so left them alone. I have a conventional hive adjacent which I have harvested twice and I started that colony well after the flow hive so I fear something isn’t right. The honey I got out of the flow hive was also quite thin so obviously whilst there was some honey at the rear of the middle frames it may not have been capped. It’s also an extremely defensive hive but I don’t think that would have any bearing on what’s going on up in the flow frames. I post a few photos when I pull the frames out. Thanks again.

Cheers

Noel

@felmo, this frame you are showing is more extreme than most of my central frames but I (and several others on the forum) have commented on the empty arc in the central frames at the moment. I suspect the long hot dry summer we have had is to blame. @Dawn_SD suggested it was because the bees were leaving a place for the queen to lay but there seemed like room in the brood box when I went in yesterday. @FrederickDunn commented on another thread that when there is no additional box between a single brood box and the flow supers, bees may go up to eat honey out of the middle of the central frames. In previous years there may have been more resources and there was no need to do that but over the last few months I think it has been harder going for my bees. I wonder who else is noticing this pattern? @Gaz?

I have about three frames of capped honey in storage that I’ve been wanting to give to the bees to take down into the flow frames so that I could harvest through the flow hive without having to crush and strain. I was thinking about putting them into an extra box above the inner cover covering half the opening so that they consider it outside the hive. Once they take it down, since it’s ripe already, I wonder if it needs to be capped before harvesting?

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They can be tricky. The way I do it is to remove the Flow key cover panel first. Then I put the flat blade of my hive tool between two frames, like a knife, and use it to lever the frames side to side just a millimeter or so. Next I put the hook of a J-shaped hive tool under the end of the frame which has the adjustment screw. I put two fingers into the Flow key cover and try to lift the frame straight up. Usually it comes fairly easily at that point. Lifting it straight up does tend to make it easier.

Once I have one frame out, I inspect the frames by looking down the gap onto the frame faces of those still in the box. I slide the frames to the side to see 2 new frame faces and keep sliding until I have seen them all. Some people find that hard, so they lift out alternate frames and look down the gaps - that way you only have to remove 3 frames to inspect the whole super. Hope that helps. :blush:

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Hi Cathy , I haven’t anything as extreme as @felmo only a very neat brood type arch centrally. Not sure why it happens sometimes and not others but our two flow hives just keep filling up. It happened more in our Hybrid but we changed that to a full flow hive. The drought just isnt an issue with plenty of flowers and water close by in the suburbs. In fact we may have split again after doing one split in December.
Our native bees are totally overflowing also with our late December splits completely full again now.

Thanks for checking in @Gaz. Glad to hear your hives are powering on. Question though, do you harvest when the arc is empty but all the surrounding honey is capped? Or just wait til they get around to filling the centre? I have honey frames to give them to rob out but at last the rains have brought all kinds of blooms so there should be lots of nectar coming in soon. Just got honey orders to fill and it’s hard to make eager customers wait…

Hi Cathy I still harvest it if I make a start. I know by the the flow relative to the key insertion depth that it is missing cells in the middle. As long as you do it incrementally it doesnt flood.
Flow starts high then gradually reduces then picks up again. I check the the bottom corflute tray as well. We dont sell much so not as urgent to harvest it.

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