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The Honey Crop 06/06/20

The Honey Crop 06/06/20

EDBK’s first Zoom meeting!

At last, East Devon are up and running with virtual meetings

‘Catching Your Honey Crop’

For our first venture we decided to float a topic that will be coming up soon, ‘Catching Your Honey Crop’.

Nick Silver volunteered to be the Host, arranging the meeting time and sending out the invitations. We eventually had 40 participants, largely made up of 2019 and 2020 Beginners group members, plus a few ‘old hands’ willing to share their knowledge.

First off, Richard introduced the session as an overview of how to get honey and honey products in various forms (liquid, cut comb, sections, chunk), and emphasised the need to be ready in plenty of time for the Main Flow, which would hopefully be upon us shortly.

John followed with details of the Main Flow and the options for supering.

In East Devon the natural nectar flow occurs around the last three weeks of JULY, but can be very variable or non-existent. This period coincides with the maximum number of bees in the colony. Working back from the date of the flow means the colony needs to be packed full of developing brood in early JUNE, 6 weeks previously (3 weeks as brood + 3 weeks to reach foraging age).
If you have been creating splits for swarm control these small colonies need to be re-united before the Main Flow.


Simply put, the colony needs to be organised so the foragers can respond the moment the flow starts. This means ensuring supers are in place well in advance of potential flow.

Questions often asked:
How many? Always aim for too many rather than too few! Don’t forget that extra space is required for the bees to process the nectar.

Above or below existing super(s)? If there is a flow on the bees will fill supers wherever they are. It is really a matter of personal preference.

Nick followed on with an illustrated talk on Sections and Cut Comb Honey.

A comparison of the two types of presentation are shown in the table.

✓ Less plastic. Nicer packing ✓ Easier? but need to watch frame spacing
✓ Bees do all the work… ✓ Flexible
✗ …but will they draw them out? ✗ A bit messy
General comments:
✓ No uncapping ✓ Thin foundation or no foundation
✓ No extracting ✓ No wire
✓ No tanks and buckets ✗ Avoid high glucose honey e.g.OSR
✓ No jars ✗ You lose the comb


Some hints and tips for Sections.

Honeycomb Sections

  • Decide between Section Racks or Hanging Section Frames (see suppliers’ catalogues).
  • Get the foundation the right way up!
  • A strong colony is needed during a flow. Look where the bees are working and move the Sections there.
  • Store Sections in the freezer indefinitely.
  • Many customers value them highly. They sell for approx. double the price of jarred honey (lb for lb) and involve less work!
  • Best to put Hanging Section Frames in the 2nd super to avoid pollen.
  • Nick suggests supers with plain runners and use Hoffman frames to fill between the Hanging Section Frames. See illustration below. With mixed frames and Sections, the flexible plastic spacer covering the Sections is a bit tricky and needs to be wedged in place to maintain correct spacing.

Cut Comb

Cut comb

  • Generally, these are more flexible than Sections as they can be harvested from any part of any super frame.
  • Can be cut with a sharp knife or a special cutter.
  • Draining the Cut Comb pieces makes a neater product. This is not essential unless entering exhibits in a competition.
  • As with Sections, Cut Comb can be stored in the freezer indefinitely.
  • Cut Comb is a valuable product, slightly less so than Sections.

Richard finished off the talks with a general discussion about getting comb filled and capped. Get your mentor to show you how to test a frame with some remaining unsealed cells.

We then had time for a general Q&A session which covered a wide range of topics that we would normally cover at our apiary meetings. The only thing we missed was the tea and cakes!

Thanks to all the participants for making this first virtual meeting a great success.