How do the bees “fit” in the hive after you take supers off? (How do they have enough space?) Do we need to replace the full frames with empty frames just to give them some room?
The bees need space to hang out. Supers with drawn comb preferably, foundation if nothing else available. Extract the Honey ASAP and return the wet supers for them to fill up again.
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I had an exhausting day yesterday extracting honey from my first super!
I did notice that there is quite a lot of crystallised honey still in the frames – one or two have pretty much a full side, where as others have patches of it. Quite a lot of “runny” honey still came out as well.
I can’t remember what you are meant to do if you have crystallised honey in frames, and the internet seems to be very divided!
If I gave it back to the bees would they manage to get it out? Or are the frames effective “wasted” to be recycled into wax?
In your neck of the woods your bees are likely to have access to Oil Seed Rape (OSR) which granulates very quickly. Usually it stays liquid whilst on the hive but supers need to be extracted within a day or so after being taken off the hives. You have several choices what to do with granulated honey, none of which produce honey for direct human consumption:
- Use a heated extraction tray (or equivalent – say a jam pan on a low heat) which will melt the honey and the wax. When left to cool the wax will be set on top of the honey and the two can be separated. Since the honey has been heated to a fairly high temperature it is classified as “baker’s honey” and is only suitable for cooking with. If you jar it and label it it must bear the words “baker’s honey” and “intended for cooking only” (more details here.)
- Since the cells are uncapped you could place the frames in a container of water and let the honey dissolve out (I’ve never tried this myself but I am told it works). The resultant solution can be used as feed for your bees (but October getting too late for the bees to be taking liquid fed) or used as the basis of mead. If you want to us either solution for feed next autumn, you’ll have to freeze it to prevent it fermenting.
- Place the combs in a box under the brood box. Whilst bees are not keen to take granulated honey they will utilise it when there’s no better alternative. It may help to spray the combs with water to help dissolve or soften the sugar crystals. Probably the best option!