Blue Purple Hive Packing in Honey

The Blue Purple hive (shown below) is my favorite hive, and right now they're still packing in the honey.

I really enjoy working this hive. It almost never needs smoke, the bees are very gentle and they produce an over abundance of honey!

I needed to check to make sure this hive was still queen right going into the winter. I'd really hate to loose this queen's genetic line and/or loose the hive over the winter.

I pulled all the supers off, and looked at the top brood box.

I'll give you three guesses which side of the box the queen is on...

I started pulling deep frames and was amazed at how they were bulging with honey. I'm using a 10 frames setup, and the honey was drawn out way beyond the end bars as if I was only using 9 frames.

Each brood box felt like it weighed 80 pounds (I rough compared it to lifting an 80 lb sack of concrete).

I couldn't hardly manipulate the frames w/o damaging stored honey, so I left them alone, only peering down between them.

I finally found a couple frames of capped and uncapped brood. Whew- the queen was still in there.

I closed them back up, but not without first taking a moisture reading on the supers. I'm hoping to extract them and "put this hive to bed" so to speak, for the winter soon.

Super 1: 21%
Super 2: 18.5%
Super 3: 16%
Super 4: empty

Here's a question for the readers: Will extracting supers with different levels of moisture actually mix in the extractor and combine at an average moisture level? Or is the honey too thick to mix and the higher moisture content super will ruin the whole harvest?

If my math is correct (21 + 18.5 + 16) / 3 =18.5 % average?

I think I'm going to leave them on at least another week, and will test the 21% super again, and hopefully they'll have the moisture lowered a bit.

Comments For This Post: (5) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Mark Martin says...
Date:   October 9, 2012, 11:23 am

I'm pretty sure the moisture level will even out within a batch.  So how were you testing the moisture level?  Were you taking a few drops of honey out of each one and testing with a refractometer or something?

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   October 9, 2012, 12:30 pm

Thanks Mark!

I'm using a hand-held refractometer, and took samples from a few spots on a couple frames of each super and measured it.

Diane (SpeedKin) says...
Date:   October 11, 2012, 8:37 am

I'd love to know what you end up doing and how it works.  I checked my supers a week or two ago and the honey was still uncapped so I left it.  I have nothing to check the moisture with so it's all a crapshoot unless it's capped.  (Note to self:  Buy a stinking refractometer already!)

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   October 11, 2012, 8:58 am

In my own hives, it seems they do not to bother capping the honey they bring in during fall. Even the 16% moisture level honey is still uncapped.


My mentor used to tell me (before I bought a refractometer) to pull a super frame, shake it and see if any honey falls out. If honey falls out of the comb easily, it's probably too moist (wet) to extract. If it doesn't come out with a shake or two, then it's probably thick enough to require an extractor, and dry enough to harvest.


Not exactly scientific, but I've used the method before in a pinch.

Diane (SpeedKin) says...
Date:   October 12, 2012, 7:35 pm

Very interesting.  I had no clue about not capping the fall honey.  Dang, I'd have been waiting a long time.  LOL  Also good to know about the low-tech way to ballpark the moisture content.  I've got a search going on for a refractometer in other tabs right now.  Not sure if I'll bite the bullet yet or not.  It's not like we have gobs of honey at this point.

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