This is my 3rd year with Langstroth hives and last year was my 1st real harvest so I’m not sure I’m doing it right. I don’t have a centerfuge so I cut & crush with a paint strainer net and a 5 gallon bucket. I’m in north Alabama where there is plenty of pollen and just had a spring nectar flow.
When should I harvest the honey? One of my hives has almost filled a medium super and is quickly filling a 2nd one. I’ve read everything from “do it now so they don’t get lazy” to “wait until after the summer flow so the honey will be fully cured.”
After I cut & crush the combs for the honey, what do I do with the sticky frames? Last year I just stuck them back on the hive and the colony didn’t seem to have any troubles. I’m just not sure what the best thing to do is.
Is it okay to move honey from a hive that has much to a hive that has underperformed? I don’t want to encourage robbing. Also, can I put the spent honey frames from one hive into another? Would this encourage robbing?
I always harvest the honey in the spring on the cusp of the dearth Regardless of how many supers are on a hive. Bees do not get lazy they are genetically programed to work them selves to death. Placing the supers back on the hive for the bees to clean up is common practice. Honey brood and even nurse bees cam be moved from hive to hive. Just be sure the donor hive has no diseases. yes you can put the frames to be cleaned from one hive into another. robing occurs when hives are imbalanced and you have been open feeding or spill food on the hives. keep the entrances small when feeding during a dearth and feed all hives.
Sorry this is off-topic, but I wanted to make sure you knew about the 9th Annual North Alabama Beekeeper Symposium that will be held in Athens, Alabama on August 17. I have been to this symposium a couple of times and it is excellent. http://lcbees.com/symposium.php.
As to when I harvest honey, I want my honey all capped, or at least each frame I extract to be 80% capped. Once I have enough capped honey to make it "worth my time," I pull frames and extract. The time of the season really does not matter to me. I would disregard the advice on "lazy bees." As to cured honey, that is evidenced by capping, not calendar.
Putting your sticky frames back on the hives is exactly what you need to do. I would not leave them open in the bee yard, especially during a dearth, for fear of starting a riot.
I would be careful moving a lot of honey to a hive that is underpopulated. Not only could that make them ripe for robbing, but you might create an small hive beetle buffet. I am not saying you can't do it, but you might want to keep a close eye on it after you move the honey and make sure all is well.
As far as the spent honey frames, I would have no worries about mixing those up or equally distributing them, so long as you are not giving you colonies too much real estate to guard in relation to their populations.