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Uncapped honey in flow frames from last year?

I admit it…after my 2 colonies collapsed/disappeared last fall I was more than a little discouraged…and also got a bit lazy.

After removing the flow frames, some of which were 70% or more full of uncapped (unripe?) honey, I simply put them in a sealed box in the garage. I meant to empty them, of course, but then winter rolled around and it was always too cold to work out there. I had tested the uncapped honey in the fall, and it was close to “ripe” but definitely not capped.

Today, I sampled some of the uncapped stores, and they are sitting right around 16% (calibrated my refractometer with EVOO)

First question: is it honey? I tasted it, and it tastes just like the honey I harvested from one of the traditional frames out of the brood nest last year. It doesn’t smell off or fermented in any way.

Second question(s): should I just load these frames onto one of my hives and see what happens? Could I eventually include these stores in a future honey harvest, or would I regret it later? If I decide to clean the frames out, best suggestion on how? 16% seems like it will be awfully thick.



Not all uncapped honey is unripe, especially if it was stored by the bees late in the season. So I would say that if it is less than 18.5% water, it is ripe honey. If it is not crystallized, you could try harvesting it inside over a drip tray. The lack of cappings tends to make the plastic frames leak down their faces, so I would not do the harvest on a hive. With a drip tray in place, at least you have more chance of not wasting the effort.

You could do that, but if your hives died out from an infectious disease, you risk reinfecting the new hive.

Honey flows better when it is warm. I would bring the frames inside and try to harvest on a warm day to remove the honey. Then wash the plastic frames in hot tap water (below 70C, which is true for most household hot water) and put them back on the hive after applying some burr comb.


Thanks, Dawn. It certainly is going to be warm enough here this weekend (85-90F) to get things flowing.

No infectious disease that my mentor or I could tell. (This is why I was comfortable putting brood comb and full honey frames from last year’s hives in with this year’s new nucs). So…it is awfully tempting to put these frames on the hive since they have already been “accepted” by at least some bees.

Seems like a good something to sleep on!


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Plus hopefully get some more opinions from other Forumites. :smile:

If you have two brood boxes full of bees and stores I would go ahead and add the Flow frames and super:

I blended the equivalent of a frame of ripe honey with 3 frames of borderline unripe honey and am giving it away as “cooking honey” to colleagues to be used within the next month.

Because of the leakage issues with uncapped frames I did this over the kitchen sink with glad wrap on the bottom of the super. I then took the spillage and placed it off the ground in front of the hive and the bees cleaned it up.