On Friday afternoon the clouds went away, the sun broke through and after checking the side observation window and seeing it 100% capped with wax (meaning the honey was ripe), I decided to fully harvest that end frame. I had seen it was fully capped during last inspection, but with the chaos that ensued with the last inspection, I waited for a week before I harvested. The bee’s had been through enough.
Harvesting is important for bees. Without harvesting a hive, they can become ‘honeybound’ with too much honey – and no room to expand or store honey. It’s actually the responsibility of a beekeeper to harvest honey from the hive to ensure they have room to keep creating honey, but not to take too much so they aren’t left with enough food for their needs and especially their winter months of down time. Its a delicate balance and from what I gather, not a precise science. The most experienced beekeepers sometimes lose a hive over winter from starvation. With my single brood box and single super, I am planning on leaving at least 4 fully capped Flow frames, and the honey frames in the brood box and going to see if that’s about right for over winter. With Summer coming to an end, and Autumn around the corner, beekeepers slow down on the harvesting letting the bees build up for winter. I may have one more harvest before that, but not sure yet.
I harvested 5 x jars of honey – probably about 2.5kg – 3kg of honey from the single frame. A LOT of honey. I have made some some beautiful honey labels (more on that in a week or so) and have ordered proper jars to sell, but for now I am using the jars that my mum has saved for me. Different sizes – but perfect just to harvest the frames. I am not use to how much honey comes out so have been using quite large jam jars for now. I can see why people use big plastic pales. Perhaps next year.
The harvest went like this:
I put the “flow key” into the slot about 1/5th of the way and turned. (You don’t want to put the flow key in the whole way – as there are so many reports of the honey flow being too much for the flowhive, and it backfills and leaks into the hive itself. It’s by far recommended to do it bit by bit.) – By turning the key you break open the frame and move the plastic frames so the honey flows through the middle into a channel and down through the tube and jar. The outside capped wax remains intact. The honey flowed immediately. It was a bit windy and the honey drip occasionally blew so hard it went outside the jar. So I then propped the jar on another jar so it was closer to the flow. Then the bees eventually started to smell the honey (including a lone European wasp), so I then wrapped plastic wrap around the tube and jar to avoid bees being lost in the honey. I saved 2 bees drowning, by putting a stick in the jar, plucking them out and putting them on the front landing strip of the beehive where other bees came and cleaned the bee up. The whole frame took about 2 hours to drain.
I didn’t wear any protective gear and didn’t get stung. The bees weren’t disturbed at all (the whole point of the flow hive invention). The only slightly unusual activity were the amount of bees hanging around the back entrance (which bees shouldn’t bee at -but you will remember they can get through here because of my screened bottom board mesh problem). There was so much activity I suspected a bit of honey was leaking through the frame into the brood and down. That’s just a suspicion.
The setting sun was so beautiful and backlit the golden honey – that it felt like I was in a photo shoot. Framed up a lot of pictures! (click each image to enlarge bigger)