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Harvest that leftover honey!

We are finding that our hives have tons of honey leftover this spring, which is not a terrible problem to have, expect that it IS a little bit of a problem. Now that our trees are starting to bloom and there is natural forage available, bees will not uncap and consume full honey frames.

And before you say, "well I'll just leave it for next winter," consider this: If your hive feels pressed for space, they will swarm. And if you leave full slabs of honey in the hive, you're taking up valuable space that could be used to expand the brood nest.

Now this is NOT a guarantee that removing your honey will prevent swarming. But it's one small step that you can take to help hold off the inevitable while you get yourself sorted out to make a split.

A frame that is fully capped honey on both sides should come out of the hive by the time your dandelions bloom.

Replacing the frames in the hive

Removing frames of honey is obviously going to leave space to fill in your hive.

1. If you have empty drawn comb, put those frames adjacent to the outermost brood frames (then any leftover honey to the outsides of the box).

2. If you only have blank foundation, only add one frame adjacent to the brood nest and put the rest on the outside edges of the box. Once a the blank frame has been drawn out and used, then move another blank in. If you have a lot of blank frames to draw, you may find they do it more quickly if you feed 1:1 syrup (but it must be above 15ºC/60ºF for them to draw comb).

What to do with the honey?

What you choose to do with the honey you've removed from the hive will depend on the mite treatment and feeding regiment you used last summer/fall. While there is nothing unsafe about consuming honey that may have been made, in part or in whole, from sugar syrup, you probably shouldn't sell it. And you want to stay away from honey that was produced while a synthetic miticide, or a thymol product was in the hive (synthetics because they persist in the honey and wax, and thymol because it will taste terrible).

If you don't want to or cannot safely consume the honey, you can always store it and feed it back to your bees in the fall. Small hives that don't collect enough honey for themselves over the summer will be grateful for the donation!


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