Honey Extraction

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Caitlin, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. Caitlin

    Caitlin New Member

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    I am a first time beekeeper and started my hive a little late this year in May. It is time for honey extraction and I have a lot of questions so I figured I'd reach out to the experts!

    A. Our second brood box is mostly full frames of honey and the honey super hasn't completely filled up yet. Is it ok to take honey from a few of the deep frames?

    B. If I can't take honey from the brood box frames will they eat the honey from the bottom boxes first if they need more room for brood? The last time I inspected there was brood in little comb that was drawn between the boxes, does that mean they are "honey locked"?

    C. How do I handle the frames during and after extraction? Can I put the frames I just took honey from back to where they originally were in the hive? Can I take just a few frames at a time for extraction or do I remove the entire box?

    D. Do I ever replace the frames I take out for extraction with new frames? It seems too late in the year to ask the bees to draw out new comb.

    Any other advice would be greatly appreciated! I seem to be able to find a lot of info on how to extract but not much on what I do with the frames after or what frames I can take. I don't want my extracting the honey to mess with what I think is a very healthy hive, especially with fall approaching.

  2. ccjersey

    ccjersey Member

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    Generally you would leave the frames in the second brood box for winter, especially in the first year. From my experience here in central Alabama, be ready in the spring for them to fill everything with nectar and be raising drone brood and building swarm cells. I don't know what they kept through the winter and what they gathered in the spring but everything was full and I needed more room or to make splits and had no boxes on hand.

    Extract your honey with an extractor and then put the super back on for the bees to clean up and then take them back off for winter storage (bagged with moth crystals to prevent wax moth.....use the right moth stuff, it is NOT naphtha mothballs from the store).

    I take them off frame by frame, shake off the bees and then walk a few yards away to my truck where I have an empty super with a lid to put them in. I give the frame a final brush to remove the stragglers, put it in the super and pop the lid back on. This keeps the number of bees I haul away to just a half dozen or so. Many will fly away when I open the lid before carrying the supers inside. If you are going only a short distance to extract you may have quite a mob of bees assisting you in the process! If you want you can drive the bees off the honey super with an escape board and various repellent compounds etc, or blow them off with a leaf blower, but for my small scale operation I just use the brush.

    Best plan is to extract the frames and put them right back on ASAP. Do not delay extracting the frames more than a couple days it you will likely have pests like wax moth and small hive beetles' larvae invading your combs. The bees keep them in check as long as they are in the hive, but they are there and as soon as you remove them the pests will begin to show up.

    You might want to ask around and see if there are any late nectar and pollen flows expected in your area that the bees may still take advantage of. In that case you might want to take some of the honey from the upper brood box as well and allow them to refill those frames instead of (partially??)refilling the honey super you put back on for cleaning. Or if there is still room in your super or partially filled frames, uncapped nectar etc you may want to delay harvest of at least those frames until the final nectar flows are over.