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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Montgomery County, Texas
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Thanks for the additional advice. I have the 2 supers in my closet with a dehumidifier. It is presently 80F and 35% humidity in there. I'll check on the honey this evening and see if I need to keep going or not.

    I saw some honey that seemed to be a little runny, but much of it is not. I suspect that the bees decided not to cap some ripe honey, and some of the other isn't quite ready anyway. Had I known that bees don't always cap honey, I would have harvested weeks ago. This is one reason I like beekeeping -- there is always more to learn. I love it!

    The reason I don't want to just give it all back to the bees is that I have only had one real harvest (& one very small harvest) since I started bee keeping 2 1/2 years ago. I would like to taste a little fruit from all my labor. The bees should have 2 deep hive bodies with plenty of honey to get them through the short Texas winter. I was able to shut down the robbing pretty fast, so I don't think they got much. This assumption is backed up by the fact that I don't have any was flakes sitting below the hive like I did last year after the major robbing when I estimate the robbers took nearly 100 pounds of honey. Ouch! I'll check on them in the next several days to see if I need to feed this winter.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Extract a frame and test with a refractometer.

    Even if it is above 18%, you can freeze it and keep it it frozen indefintely. Lose very little quality, and it does not crystalize.

    Just as an aside. a big superstore sold 20% moisture honey and had a best before date of about a year. When I pulled it out of the pantry, after the expire date it was fermented but tested 20% moisture. So honey will keep for some time even at 20% moisture.

    I had the same problem of uncapped honey last fall and finally ordered a refractometer and it got back ordered. Got too late to remove the honey, so left the third deep super on the hive. Wound up with 30 plus frames of crystalized, mostly uncapped honey. Been trying to feed back to bees and still working at it. Best advice I got recently was to uncap and spray with water and feed to bees.

    Take the surplus honey, test and freeze and keep frozen as required.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,349

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    I always come in late - giving others a chance to have their say, but I have a different slant.
    In the Houston area, you should have some fall flow left, and still have substantial brood volume left at this time. For best wintering, the colony should have the opportunity to backfill the broodnest before full-time clustering. Had you left the open-cell honey in place, they would have had it to backfill the broodnest at closeout. They are reluctant to open capped honey for that purpose.

    My recommendation is to put it back on the hives. If they need it they have it. If the fall flow lasts until closeout of the broodnest at about first freeze, they may not need the open-cell upstairs. In that case, it's yours to take.

    Note that the open-cell is likely already cured. What we tend to forget is that when they are storing honey overhead, it is pre dried before it goes into a cell. The nectar receiver/processors tongue dry the nectar before storing it. With a suitable distribution of workers, the strong colony can draw, fill, and cap a super in a week. That would not happen if they were relying on evaporation in a cell of raw nectar.

    The "shake it" test works in the early season or a strong burst of a single-source flow most any time. But toward flow trail-off, they generally have a balanced work force in place to avoid storing raw nectar. That stored early, when they didn't have enough processors, has time to dry by evaporation.

    Walt

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,020

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    The nectar receiver/processors tongue dry the nectar before storing it. With a suitable distribution of workers, the strong colony can draw, fill, and cap a super in a week. That would not happen if they were relying on evaporation in a cell of raw nectar.
    I agree. I also read somewhere that the enzyme that the bees add to the nectar continues to cure the honey even after it is put in a jar, as long as you don't heat the honey. This leads me to believe that raw nectar dried from the comb is not the same as honey. I also came across a photo of two bees transferring nectar over comb not at the entrance. I contend that when a flow is hot and heavy there is not enough time to process all the nectar coming in so the bees put in in a cell and finish processing it later when the flow tapers off. I suspect there may not even be enough enzyme in the bees gut to process all what is coming in.

    If you farm, when your crop is ready you are going to harvest all you can and then freeze, can or pack when you have time. You are not going to let the crop go to waist while you do the secondary processes that could be done later. What makes you think the bees are not that smart?

    I am not denying that the forager passes the nectar off to another bee at the entrance and that bee puts it in a cell. But I am not convinced that it isn't processed some more at a later time. So to me dried raw nectar in the comb is not the same as fully cured honey.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,587

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    I agree. I also read somewhere that the enzyme that the bees add to the nectar continues to cure the honey even after it is put in a jar, as long as you don't heat the honey.
    So if the nectar/honey is in a jar, where does the excess moisture go in this jar "curing" process? Or is the jar porous to water?

    I'm referring to the higher moisture level that is in nectar, but not present in finished honey. (This would be the moisture that is evaporated while the honey is still in the comb, at least if you weren't a believer in the "cure in a jar" theory Ace is promoting.

    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,599

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    A long time beekeeper told us last meeting that bees don't bother capping the honey they're going to be using soon. Maybe that's it.
    Thats basically what I've observed in my hives or if there is no flow. The wet syrup/nectar decreases in volume as it dries, if the source cuts off, then the cell is not full and they won't tear down comb just to cap it short. Also if there is no flow they are not readily producing wax to cap it. I harvest uncapped stuff quite often if it passes the shake test. If the majority is capped, the small amount of uncapped adds an insignificant contribution of moisture to the whole batch.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    787

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Along with the uncapped honey that the bees will move to the brood chamber, I believe some beekeepers do not take honey from the hives until November, after the bees have done all they are going to do to get ready for winter. Has anyone come across that?

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,349

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Adding to burns 375 comments, and providing a possible answer to the OP's question of "why?", we have a conclusion from yesteryear.

    We concluded that the bees do not cap overhead, short cells of honey because they are looking to the future. Overhead honey is subject to be used for brood in the coming spring build up. So, they don't cap it unless it is at least brood rearing depth. They don't have wax-making capability in late winter.

    Made this comment a couple years ago, and another contributor said his bees regularly capped cells a quarter inch deep. Had not seen it in 20 years of active beekeeping, but did not argue. This year, Harold tells me that he has some short cells of capped honey in the freezer. Never say never. Genetic diversity will nail you to the wall.
    Walt

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,599

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    Along with the uncapped honey that the bees will move to the brood chamber, I believe some beekeepers do not take honey from the hives until November, after the bees have done all they are going to do to get ready for winter. Has anyone come across that?
    Probably the best approach for wintering success is not to pull honey until spring. I believe (have no data) they make decisions on how much brood to rear based on the quantity of stores. So if going into fall they have 3 supers full, then the beekeeper pulls them off. The decisions they made based on colony size in later summer may no longer be applicable. The colony now may be too large to survive on the less amount of honey. They eat and eat, brood and brood while food is plentiful, they don't cut back until the food is scarce.

    At the same rate pulling honey off in June or July can bite you in the butt if the rest of the season does not pan out. Drought hits etc, now no honey is left and the colony decreases in size.

    And at another rate a hive with alot of honey thru June to September has a higher tendency to swarm that year and in spring.

    So its a fine edge. And I don't know whats right, what is the optimum approach. I like to pull surplus right when its available in june. I also like to pull flows to exploit the seasonal flavors. Buyers like that.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Hive population may well need three supers because hive size was not reduced earlier.

    Spring for me is 6 months away and honey left on the hive is pretty well candied by spring. All that can be done is decap and spray it with water and let the bees remove it.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    787

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by burns375 View Post
    So its a fine edge. And I don't know whats right, what is the optimum approach.
    I'm going to have a nervous breakdown now. This is as bad as trying to raise kids.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Place the supers above an empty box. Because of the large gap, the supers will not be considered as part of the hive. So the nectar will be robbed out first. How fast it is moved will depend on the amount of space left in the brood boxes.

    After a day or few you will be left with mainly capped cells in the super. Which you can then take off.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    787

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    We're probably frustrating those bees to no end. We take honey that they're about to use, rearrange frames that they just got fixed the way they wanted them...

    Hive management is hard. Since I'm only in my 2nd year, I think I'm going to do more watching and less interfering.

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,020

    Default Re: Honey Not Quite Ready to Harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    I think I'm going to do more watching and less interfering.
    Now you are thinking...
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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