The flow is done here in my area for all intents and purposes and the dearth is setting in and even though the Flow frames have been full for several weeks, the bees have never gotten around to capping them.
Since I do not want to leave the Flow frames in place during the fall goldenrod flow and I also don’t want to leave my Flow frames in place over winter, I decided to harvest. This will allow me to pull the Flow frames and place a medium super and feeder on the hive. This will also allow for feeding the bees during the dearth without any worries of sugar water in the Flow frames or the bees eating the stores in the deeps.
As far as harvesting went, all went relatively well EXCEPT that I highly recommend running tubing into a closed container. Especially under certain conditions. These are the condition that made my harvest less than optimal.
Having 6 colonies quite close to one another.
After cracking my frames and having the honey perfectly run out into the jars I’d set up, a few of the girls caught wind of the open honey. I quickly got some cling wrap in place and that did the trick for a little bit but when I switched jars some spillage occurred and that was just too tempting. A lot of bees came round back for the free goodies. Can’t say which of the 6 colonies the bees came from but for argument’s sake I’m gonna say all of them took part
I had to fish more than a few of the girls out that breached the cling wrap and given some additional spillage, by the time I’d cracked the last frame it was a bit of a bee party. Despite that though, I was in there with them veil-less, glove-less and in shorts and flip-flops. Not a single bee paid any attention to me. I did get one sting when removing some cling wrap as I’d trapped a bee between my fingers though.
So what is the lesson learned?
Harvesting during a dearth and/or in a spot dense with bees should be done with tubing into closed-lid containers. The scent of open honey is quite attractive to the girls at any time though and they’ll absolutely come looking for a free meal.
So, about what was in the frames - I first tested the un-capped honey by drawing honey from individual cells with pipettes on 2 frames and then checking the moisture level with a refractometer to get an idea of where I stood. My readings we’re at 18.5%. After harvesting I tested the honey in each jar. 1 jar was at 20% moisture content and the remaining 6 were at 18 -19%.
I’m feeding the jar that was at 20% back to the bees. Here are the remaining 6 quarts.
BTW, this is by no means an endorsement of harvesting uncapped honey - I regularly inspect my hives and know what stores are in my deep hive bodies. I also have the necessary tools to help me make an informed decision as far as the pulled honey goes.
Guessing about moisture content is out of the question. If you don’t have the need or the means, don’t do it.
My situation is unique to me.