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CHCHPaul

Question ... get them to cap the honey?

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So the season’s chugging along quite well and the girls are bringing in the nectar… Filling up most of the box, so I add another super… then they fill that up… and the honey flow stops.

 

Is there any way to get them to cap the honey?

 

I was wondering if I could feed them some light syrup to stimulate wax production or something… but don’t want them to mix sugar in with honey. 

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18 hours ago, CHCHPaul said:

So the season’s chugging along quite well and the girls are bringing in the nectar… Filling up most of the box, so I add another super… then they fill that up… and the honey flow stops.

 

Is there any way to get them to cap the honey?

 

I was wondering if I could feed them some light syrup to stimulate wax production or something… but don’t want them to mix sugar in with honey. 

Is the honey just for personal use?

There is always much emphasis placed on only harvesting capped honey, which for commercial beekeepers that potentially need to be able to store their honey for decent periods of time can be important.

For a hobby beekeeper wanting to harvest and eat their own honey it really doesn't matter at all. Just be aware that if it isn't capped the moisture content will likely be a bit higher and therefore the honey can be prone to fermenting if stored for longer periods of time. To reduce the likelihood of this storing it in a cool place helps.

Edited by Otto
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I'd escape the 50% capped.  In your case I wouldn't have added the second super until the first was half full and that now would have now given you 30 kg per hive.  From memory that valley can get pretty dry and you might have gone off the flow.  What about putting the fullest frames above the queen excluder.  Escape the not so full box, but leave on top of the hive and see if they fill up the box underneath.  What is the likelihood of a late flow of something else?  From memory when I did autumn surveillance in that area there was a lot of scarlett gum around the hill areas.    Do you have a site further down the valley that is still on a flow that could finish the partial filled boxes?  

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I harvested three weeks ago. 80% of my takings were uncapped frames. Wouldn't drip when I shook upside down. Jarred when I took it off. They've all crystallised now, no drama. Although I do wonder what it was to crystallise so fast, either Kanuka or Mahoe or a blend , but neither of those have crystallised in  two weeks before.

 

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I agree with Yesbut and Otto, but going back to the original question, I don't think that feeding them a light syrup will encourage them to cap honey. The reason it is not capped is because it isn't ready to be capped not because they don't have wax available. You don't have to extract a whole box, you could just extract frames that are 75% capped and then consolidate those others left behind into one box with some emptys to complete it. Feeding syrup is more likely to end up with more uncapped "honey" not less, so mixing this with the honey is something to avoid. But eating your own sugar probably will not harm you if you want to experiment.

 

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2 hours ago, CHCHPaul said:

Thanks folks. @ChrisM I think it is probably worth an experiment to see what happens with one hive... but without C4 testing I might never know. 

 

Hi Paul - I wouldn't go feeding the hives.  Are the outer frames capped, and if the second frame in is partially capped, I would whip the whole box off and extract.  My understanding if the whole box is fully capped, the bees have used 5 kg of honey to cap, and that is 5 kg of honey per box you aren't getting.  If I waited until every frame was capped, I would run out of honey supers every season.  Sometimes extraction is required to get empty supers out again.  

 

This has always been my rule of thumb to increase honey production.  I have never bothered with a refractometer.  It doesn't see a refractometer until the drum is sitting in the honey buyer's shed and I have never failed a moisture count.  

 

If I were to take the honey off any earlier than above, I run the risk of it fermenting in the drum, and the drum exploding because of high moisture content.

 

I just want to make it very clear, I produce light honeys.  There will be some product where this rule does not apply e.g. beech dew. 

There's no way I would want any brassica honey fully capped, because with a very slight drop in temperature it can become unextractable.   

Edited by Maggie James
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This is a question topic. As you're reading through please rate each answer up or down so we get the best answer. 👍

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1 hour ago, yesbut said:

I harvested three weeks ago. 80% of my takings were uncapped frames. Wouldn't drip when I shook upside down. Jarred when I took it off. They've all crystallised now, no drama. Although I do wonder what it was to crystallise so fast, either Kanuka or Mahoe or a blend , but neither of those have crystallised in  two weeks before.

 

Do you have rata near you .?

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41 minutes ago, kaihoka said:

Do you have rata near you .?

Only one tiny vine. 

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2 minutes ago, yesbut said:

I think I disagree. I think they just haven't topped it off enough to put the lid on yet.

I agree that is possible, your shake-test above would establish that.

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Thanks folks. @ChrisM I think it is probably worth an experiment to see what happens with one hive... but without C4 testing I might never know. 

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get yourself one of those honey refractometers.

 

aliexpress will give you plenty of cheap options.

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2 hours ago, Maggie James said:

Are the outer frames capped, and if the second frame in is partially capped, I would whip the whole box off and extract.


Hey Maggie, try no cappings at all in some cases! Two boxes per hive each with 15kg of honey and barely a cap in sight! I’ve got one box that is 50% capped and weighs 30kg off the hive, so I’m concerned they just aren’t filling them enough to be bothered capping...

 

A friend down the valley has the same problem. 

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All excellent suggestions thanks @Maggie James  

 

I’m already doing some of that and I’ll implement the other ideas. I changed to 8 frames in a super this season and I think I may have been premature with putting on the second boxes (not letting them build out enough). 
 

my main concern about leaving escapes and partially filled boxes on the hive is the ants. I presume everyone else has this problem as well?

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49 minutes ago, CHCHPaul said:

All excellent suggestions thanks @Maggie James  

 

I’m already doing some of that and I’ll implement the other ideas. I changed to 8 frames in a super this season and I think I may have been premature with putting on the second boxes (not letting them build out enough). 
 

my main concern about leaving escapes and partially filled boxes on the hive is the ants. I presume everyone else has this problem as well?

When I take some capped honey frames off and put in an HD nuc box for the day to clear the bees out I have to be carefull where I put the box.

Otherwise it will fill up with ants .

If I do get ants on my frames they go in the freezer for the night .

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1 hour ago, CHCHPaul said:

All excellent suggestions thanks @Maggie James  

 

I’m already doing some of that and I’ll implement the other ideas. I changed to 8 frames in a super this season and I think I may have been premature with putting on the second boxes (not letting them build out enough). 
 

my main concern about leaving escapes and partially filled boxes on the hive is the ants. I presume everyone else has this problem as well?

 

I forgot about the ants in your neck of the woods, and believe you me they know the instance a box is escaped.  You will need to talk to others in your area as to what they recommend.  

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On 2/02/2020 at 2:06 PM, CHCHPaul said:

Thanks folks. @ChrisM I think it is probably worth an experiment to see what happens with one hive... but without C4 testing I might never know. 


So, I tried feeding light syrup to one hive that was a good strong colony. I had removed one good, heavy, capped box of honey and left a well drawn, mostly filled honey box. 
 

I fed a few litres of syrup three times over a week or so. All syrup was taken down, but when I checked the super it hadn’t changed. They must have been taking the syrup further down...

 

So, failed experiment for collecting honey, but I did learn that it doesn’t work! I’m now feeding bulk light syrup and will use the resulting full frames for feeding the splits. 

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9 minutes ago, ChrisM said:

The reason it is not capped is because it isn't ready to be capped not because they don't have wax available. 

I think I disagree. I think they just haven't topped it off enough to put the lid on yet.

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