Honey Still Not Capped
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Lone Oak, Texas, USA
    Posts
    46

    Default Honey Still Not Capped

    We live in a very humid, hot area. We put our supers on in March for the flow and pull early to mid July as we have done for several years. This year, the majority of the frames are not capped at all. What's going on that would cause this? I've never seen anything like it. We have 50 + hives at several locations, and it's the same at each one. I know other beekeepers in my general area that didn't have this problem. Any ideas would be great. I'm scratching my head on this one.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    New Concord, Ohio
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Same issue here in Ohio. Pulled honey frames in early July last two years, uncapped this year...Will have to check again in a month.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    5,380

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Any chance the flow ended early and the bees are uncapping the honey? Had several frames where the outside was capped, but the inside cells were open. The flow ended earlier than usual for me. Refractometer told me the nectar was ripe so I harvested it all.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Lone Oak, Texas, USA
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    I guess it's possible. The others beekeepers in the are just harvested 2-3 weeks ago. It's been an odd year.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    748

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Had that problem last year and pulled out the cheap refractometer that was gathering dust on the shelf.Tested frames as we extracted and most were less than 18% ( what a royal PIA) but better than finding a foaming pail.The frames greater than 18% went back on the hives and were capped and harvested in the fall. I took 2 samples per frame side at first and found the generally the % was consistent across a frame.Anything above 17.5% got a second test. Surprisingly,there were many that tested 16.5 %,but still uncapped.
    If you must harvest (customers beating down the door) get a quality refractometer and test random frames,remembering that a few over the limit can ruin a load.Invest in a quality dehumidifier that self drains and a few cheap box fans and stack supers with spacers in a small room.
    Note: I have never tried this and was about to last year but then I discovered my dehumidifier was shot.Tested frames and decided I had enough low moisture to satisfy everyone until fall harvest.
    The worst thing you can do is harvest and then test.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,891

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    I would shake some frames and see how much honey drops show on a cover. When a nectar source runs out, or all sources, the bees often fail to cap cells of that variety of honey. In my high desert, I have seen uncapped honey dry out to the point it won't extract. But I do not have high humidity ever.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    748

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    I used to rely on the shake test until I lost a 60 lb pail to fermentation.It really hurt to pour that in a hole in the back yard.
    My area in NE is noted for high summer humidity.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lassen, California, USA
    Posts
    721

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Strange here also, my bees have done hardly any work on their supers. Usually I'm ready to pull supers late July, not this year. I'm hoping things are just a month late, we had a weird spring this year. Having a weird summer too, nights have been in the high 40's low 50's.
    Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    432

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    I've been checking with refractometer , comparing moisture of uncapped/vs. capped on the same frames. If I find that the capped and uncapped are the same moisture content, even if it seems high, I go ahead and extract. High would be 18-19%. Some of my capped honey is at that level, so I figure it's the type of nectar involved. I hope my conclusions are okay.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,602

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Bees won't cap honey cells until 2 criteria are met.
    1. Honey is dry enough in their opinion.
    2. The cell is full.

    If the cell is not full then they won't cap it. I've been having hot dry weather. I just pulled some uncapped honey that is almost thick enough to cut with a knife because it is so dried out.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    New Paltz, New York, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    I agree with RayMarler's "criteria". Note, though, that "full" means to whatever depth they've drawn the comb. If the comb is really shallow they'll occasionally cap it at that depth when the flow stops, and that's awkward because it's hard to uncap with a knife and not really worth the time anyway, and on the other hand doesn't provide much winter feed for the space it takes up. (I guess that's one small argument in favor of overwintering in double deeps -- there's room to spare for this kind of sloppiness.)

    This year I pulled lots of boxes with half capped or even fully uncapped frames and dehumidified them. I already had a dehumidifier on the cellar level to prevent mold, so I just put that in a small unused bathroom next to the stack of honey supers. Finally I put a box fan on the top of the stack. Every open cell I tested was 16% in about two days, although I didn't test before dehumidifying so I don't know how much moisture was removed. The finished product was 16% as well.

    I got the idea from a larger scale beekeeper on these forums (sorry, I forget who) who does the same on a much larger scale. I think this will be my technique from now on -- it's so easy to just pull the whole box on your own schedule, especially if you're trying to extract seasonal honey separately. And it's nice to get down to 16%, instead of the borderline ~18% I've gotten in years past, even from fully capped frames.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    1,023

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Quote Originally Posted by cfalls View Post
    I agree with RayMarler's "criteria". Note, though, that "full" means to whatever depth they've drawn the comb. If the comb is really shallow they'll occasionally cap it at that depth when the flow stops, and that's awkward because it's hard to uncap with a knife and not really worth the time anyway, and on the other hand doesn't provide much winter feed for the space it takes up. (I guess that's one small argument in favor of overwintering in double deeps -- there's room to spare for this kind of sloppiness.)

    This year I pulled lots of boxes with half capped or even fully uncapped frames and dehumidified them. I already had a dehumidifier on the cellar level to prevent mold, so I just put that in a small unused bathroom next to the stack of honey supers. Finally I put a box fan on the top of the stack. Every open cell I tested was 16% in about two days, although I didn't test before dehumidifying so I don't know how much moisture was removed. The finished product was 16% as well.

    I got the idea from a larger scale beekeeper on these forums (sorry, I forget who) who does the same on a much larger scale. I think this will be my technique from now on -- it's so easy to just pull the whole box on your own schedule, especially if you're trying to extract seasonal honey separately. And it's nice to get down to 16%, instead of the borderline ~18% I've gotten in years past, even from fully capped frames.

    This may be the direction for me also. Im only running 3 yards, but have to keep pulling a few boxes here and there...a real PITA. Yesterday at my furthest yard from my home i pulled only 4 capped boxes. There were another 14 boxes which were only 50-60% capped which i had to leave for another week or two.
    Im finding this same issue at the other two yards...the bees seem slow for whatever reason to finish capping the frames this year.
    Having said that ive already extracted 21 x 5 gallon pails off my 30 hives and there are i want to say maybe 50 more supers which are ALMOST ready.

    Big goldenrod flow coming with any luck in the next couple weeks and im out of supers so hoping i can get these last 50 boxes capped and extracted and back on the hives in the next 10-12 days

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    5,507

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    .

    Big goldenrod flow coming with any luck in the next couple weeks and im out of supers so hoping i can get these last 50 boxes capped and extracted and back on the hives in the next 10-12 days
    they finally started hitting the Knapp weed yesterday, it's raining today
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    748

    Default Re: Honey Still Not Capped

    Aran
    Take a refractometer with you and test those boxes in the field.Uncapped does not mean not ripe!
    Test before the fall flow and the bees putting nectar on top of ripe honey.

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