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As the nectar flow continues, beekeepers will place honey supers onto hives to allow space for bees to store surplus honey. This surplus of honey is the best perk of keeping bees. Before you add on those first honey supers, here are some things to consider:

  • After your hives have made it through Winter, it is important to complete a mite count. If the population of mites is high, a treatment should be applied. Treatments will need to be removed before adding any honey supers onto the hive. Certain treatments, like MiteAway Quick Strips, will not affect the purity of honey but the use of harsh chemical treatments will contaminate the honey. Harsh chemicals are not harmful for bees, but the chemicals are not appropriate for human consumption. Treatments should cease before adding honey supers.

  • Hives that made it through Winter will have depleted honey stores. Provide a feeder to ensure your bees have an accessible feed and to ramp up brood production. Placing a honey super onto the hive while you are feeding sugar water gives the bees space to store the provided sugar water. This will not affect the harvest’s edibility but will give the honey an influential sugar water flavor. Remove feeders after adding honey supers so you are extracting honey, not sugar water.

  • As the queen continues laying at her max, she will be moving up the hive searching for space to lay eggs. Prevent the queen from entering and laying eggs in the honey super with a queen excluder. A queen laying eggs in the honey super limits the storage space and pollutes your honey upon extracting. Adding a queen excluder will confine the queen to the brood chamber.

  • Providing a honey supers with new, undrawn foundation may not receive attention from the colony. Spraying the foundation with sugar water entices the bees to begin working the frames in the honey super. This will lure bees up to clean the frames and start drawing out the foundation. Provided you are using the same medium sized supers throughout the hive, you may rotate an outside frame with an empty frame from the honey super. If you intend to use a queen excluder, ensure that your bees are working the foundation before adding the excluder.
Nectar is collected and distributed throughout the honey super where water will evaporate. Once the nectar has reached the correct consistency, bees will cap it over with beeswax. As you examine the frames in your honey super, you may find frames fully capped on one side while the other has open cells. Determining if the frame is ready for extraction will be difficult without using a Refractometer. A good ‘in the field test’ is to hold the frame on both sides and snap the frame downward toward the honey super.The nectar's water content is too great if nectar is thrown from the cells. Before extracting honey, use a Refractometer to ensure the honey is less than 18% water.

The hundreds of bees in the honey super must be vacated before taking the frames into the extracting room. Beekeepers use numerous methods of varying difficulty to clear the bees from frames. Some techniques with established success are discussed below. 1. Brushing every frame with a bee brush can be time consuming and will irritate the bees; however, this method will give you time to inspect each frame while clearing away bees.

2. Placing an escape screen below the honey super is an easy, however, time consuming way to evacuate the super. After the bees leave the honey super, the escape screen challenges re-entry.

3. Spray a fume pad with Natural Honey Harvester and place it above the honey super. The odor will cause the bees to vacate the honey super without contaminating the honey.

Add honey supers onto your hive and prepare your honey room for extracting!