After busy months of hive checks and watching your bees increase in numbers to forage and store nectar, now comes the exciting part of the season – harvesting time.
There’s nothing quite like tasting the different flavours collected over the season.
But how much can you harvest, how often and when do you need to consider leaving stores for overwintering?
The amount of honey available for harvest will be dependent on many factors such as hive strength and available forage. Some beekeepers will harvest several times in one season whilst other colonies will only produce enough to get them through the winter.
Depending on your region and climate, there can be periods of sparse nectar availability during the summer. It depends on what plants are flowering in your area at particular times. Keeping aware of how much food your bees are bringing home will allow you to judge when it’s appropriate to harvest. As always, local knowledge is really important here, so get advice from beekeepers in your area.
Are your frames ready for harvest? It’s important to ensure your Flow Frames are full and capped before harvesting, otherwise your honey may ferment if the moisture content is too high.
Make sure you’re set up for success: When it’s harvest time in your apiary, read through our harvesting checklist to ensure you’ve got the optimal set-up for easy honey harvesting.
Do you have enough jars? Each Flow Frame holds approximately 3 kg (6.5 lb) of unprocessed honey, this can increase if the bees really build each frame out. Bee prepared with extra jars in case your first one overflows!
When inspecting, be on the lookout for good population numbers, a queen, healthy brood patterns and honey stores, and most importantly, look closely for pests and diseases and treat accordingly.
Many beekeepers choose to start applying their mite treatments after harvesting so check with local experts for advice on this important process.
If you need advice with a summer inspection, we’re here to help! We have a swarm of resources available and a knowledgeable team on hand to offer support.
If temperatures are typically over 30ºC/85ºF or if humidity is high in your area, you may need to offer your bees a little support so they can retain their optimal hive temperature. The ventilation controls on our Flow Hive 2 are really handy for this! If you have a Classic model, make sure the corflute slider is in the lower position or removed completely.
Ensure your bees have a nearby water source – but don’t make it too deep, bees aren’t good swimmers! Try to ensure your hive has shade during the hottest part of the day. Here are some tips on how to create a water station for your bees.
At this time of year you might see your bees gathered in large numbers on the front of the hive. If the temperature is hot, they are probably bearding, however, it is still possible to get some late season swarms.
Bearding is yet another fascinating behaviour, where bees fan their wings to maintain the perfect temperature inside the hive.
If your hive is bearding, you may like to ask yourself two questions; 1. Is there enough room in the hive for the expanding colony? And, 2. Could they be preparing to swarm? A simple hive inspection will assist with this – look out for peanut-shaped queen cells that indicate a late season swarm.
If your hive is too full, or you want to ensure your bees will have enough stores to get through the leaner months ahead, this could be the right time to give them more space by adding a second brood box.
If the signs indicate that your bees are ready to swarm, you can get out in front and split the hive before they do. If you need a new hive to put them in, our Flow Hive 2 Cedar 6 Frame is ready to ship now!!
Furthermore, owning two hives ramps up your learning and understanding of the fascinating nature of bees. Each colony is its own unique microcosm and community, with two you can compare colony strength, productivity, health and support ailing hives with queen cell transfers or brood if needed.
Many beekeepers with strong colonies will perform hive splits in summer to give their colonies ample time to establish and strengthen before winter preparations begin.
If you have a large, healthy hive it is possible to create a new colony from it by making what is called a split.
The basic concept is that you take a portion of an established colony and transfer it to a separate hive thereby creating two colonies. They'll each have sufficient worker bee populations, stores and their own queen.
There’s lots to learn when you start out beekeeping!
Spring time is crucial and with so much conflicting advice available online, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
So, in conjunction with the world's experts, we’ve created TheBeekeeper.org
It lets you fast-track your learning easily and enjoyably. Learn in your own time with high-quality videos explaining what you need to know in order to feel confident looking after your bees.
Help a newbee set up a hive or split your colony with a friend! It’s a great way to speed up your beekeeping knowledge.
Our Refer-A-Friend program allows your friend to receive €50 off their first hive, and you receive a sweet €50 reward.
If you don’t have a beekeeping buddy, consider linking up with someone local on the Flow Community Forum.