how to make more honey

How To Make  More Honey

Did you know that proper uncapping skills can help you harvest more honey? Read on!

This year has been a great year for bees to pack in the honey for most beekeepers. But occasionally there are issues and beekeepers struggle with getting the top super started. What can slow down or prevent bees from storing honey in the upper super, the super you want to harvest?

1) Placed It On Too Late

Some beekeepers fail to realize that bees rarely build out comb by adding wax when there is not a strong nectar flow. Some beekeepers wait until late July and hope the bees have time to make the wax and draw out the comb on the foundation. In an area of average nectar sources it will take a colony longer to draw out their combs. However, if the bees are in a location with lots of floral sources it is possible.

As a rule of thumb I like to place a minimum of 2 honey supers on my hives by mid May giving them plenty of time to draw out the wax on the comb having the space they need to bring in nectar.

2) Queen Excluder Is Creating A Barrier

Some people call the queen excluder a honey excluder. It does require more effort on the part of the bees to work their way through it to place honey in the super above. I like to place my supers on without a queen excluder and just monitor the queen and keep her down in her brood nest. If I see her in the super, I pick her up and move her down. Or you can wait until they have drawn out several frames then place the queen excluder below the super. This is like baiting the bees to start on the super. But be sure when you place the queen excluder on that the queen is not up in the super.

3) Colony Lacks A Strong Foraging Force

If you have tried everything and nothing is working, it might be that your queen is not prolific and you lack the population to give you the number of foragers you need. In this case you will just need to monitor your brood development and decide if you should replace your queen. It takes a very strong work force for a colony to be a honey producing hive.

4) Hive Is In A Poor Location Lacking Nectar Sources

Sometimes your hive is just in a poor location. I have learned that colonies that produce a lot of honey are near an abundance of nectar sources. If your hives fail to produce a lot of honey each year you should consider placing them somewhere better. Look around and talk to land owners. You might hit upon a gold mine!

5) Not Uncapping Frames Correctly

To harvest the most honey there are a few things that can really make a difference. For starters, let's talk about the destruct method versus using an uncapping knife. Destruct is often the method that has to be used with combs extracted from trees or buildings. Some top bar hive beekeepers use this method. Instead of uncapping and spinning the combs in an extractor, they simply crush and squeeze the comb and force the honey out. This works, but some honey is lost in the wax in this method. 

The choice of a hot knife or regular "cold" knife can make a difference too. A trick I've learned over the years is to use a cold serrated knife and avoid cutting anything except the caps. Cutting deeply into thick comb means that more honey is lost into the cappings and has to be separated later. It takes some work and skill to get used to this, but as long as you use a sawing action your cold knife can be carefully manipulated to shave only the top of the cappings off.

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