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How to organize for the honey harvest?

Every good beekeeper must know exactly when and how to harvest honey so as not to damage the colony and to have the best possible productivity.

How is the harvest going?

Simply put, harvesting consists of taking the surplus honey accumulated by bees as provisions for the winter. The provisions are placed in the frames of the hive, closed in the cells by wax covers. The beekeeper therefore takes the frames of the hive, that is to say of the upper part of the hive so that there is enough food (at least 44 lbs) for the colony for the winter.

Once collected, the executives will be taken to the honey house. In the honey house, he then proceeds to the uncapping, that is to say the removal of the wax layer which will be used to create new frames. Then each frame is placed in an extractor which allows, by centrifugal force to empty its contents. The product obtained is then filtered in a rotating tank. A last step consisting in bringing up the remaining particles is carried out in a maturator and in a skimmer. Before you begin, it is prudent to verify that you have all the necessary materials on hand.

In what season is it harvested?

Harvesting honey is the final stage of cultivation. It is usually done in August, at the end of the growing season. But not all beekeepers follow this rule, which is considered empirical. By observing the beehives, you can tell if the honey is ripe, and now is the perfect time to harvest. We say that a honey is ripe when it has undergone all the necessary transformations within the hive to contain 18% water and to avoid the risk of fermenting. This moment is equivalent to the end of the capping, that is, when 80% of the frames are covered with wax by the bees.

Two cases can arise: either, the beekeeper carries out the first harvest early and resets the supers to be able to harvest again at the end of the summer, or he only carries out a harvest. In the first case, the early season honey is clear and the second honey is more colored and malty.

At what time of the day should I harvest the honey?

Caution and safety are essential when it comes to harvesting honey. Indeed, when one intervenes on a hive, the acts are disruptive for the colony. Bees can become very nervous. It is therefore essential to restore balance in the hive as quickly as possible. For this, focus on harvests in the late afternoon so that the tranquility of the night can quickly put the environment back in order.

However, when there are a large number of beehives, this method is sometimes not possible if you want to complete the harvest on the same day. The choice of time of day therefore meets the constraints of each beekeeper. To avoid causing irritation in the colony, the beekeeper can use various techniques, but smoking is the most common. It consists of diffusing a smoke which sends the queens under the frames so that they can be removed one by one without danger.
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