Series honey supers are a creation that came from a need to harvest honey without killing lots of bees. Traditionally we have used very deep supers in Australia which often contain pollen. Pollen ferments the honey and it also attracts more pests post harvest. In many ways our methods are still quite primitive for honey collection. While some countries use suction as a means to harvest honey cleanly, I don’t believe our bees are suited to this because of the size of the honey pots and time needed to undertake this task.
Below is a video of my findings with Series Honey Supers and what I have learnt when harvesting honey from them. Please have a read and make a comment about your methods and what you have found works best. Please press the “CC” logo below the video if you’re hard of hearing.
Notes on Series Supers
- Series supers should be made to give you one flat sheet of honey pots. Depths from 16mm>25mm work quite nicely. Thicker supers from 25mm to 35mm will receive multiple layers of honey pots. This will make it difficult to remove bees nicely.
- Compressed air is my choice when removing bees but you can also leave the supers outside in a white plastic bag. Bees will want to fly out and cant easily get back in if the top is gently folded over.
- A single layer of honey pots will see bees cleared easily from a super.
- Bees will deconstruct a honey pot and rebuild it completely if it is damaged.
- Pricking honey pots and pouring gives you cleaner honey then pressing or cutting.
- Multiple supers can be added once a colony of bees have filled a hive.
- A smaller brood area will make bees move into supers faster.
- Placing the entrance to the super at the back of your hive will see little to no pollen stored in this area. The right size area will also see no pollen.
Bee space for series supers
The blue arrow above shows where the space for the stingless bees to walk around is. By use of air you are able to clear any bees hiding underneath or above honey pots. Tall series supers will not provide this. Keep your supers to 24-27mm thick with a ply sheet of 4.5mm set in the base. This gives you 20-23mm deep on your series supers.
The honey pots in a thicker super will be more than one honey pot high and so will not lift out like these did.
Alternative harvesting methods for series supers
I had a go at a few different methods of honey harvesting. A thin knife can be ran underneath the single layer of honey pots. The whole sheet can be lifted out. Honey pots can then be pressed. You will likely take some of the fragments of wax or anything really into your honey.
Dean showed me a video sometime back of a man in Brazil using a razor knife to run down the length of the honey pots. This is very effective at removing the honey but again you may see some fragments added to your honey unless its filtered through something.
Pressing pots from a series super
I gave this method a go by cutting the pots completely off the ply. Fastest method out of the three. Filtering is needed as you will see fragments of wax fall into the honey. The downside to this is if there is a pollen pot it will inevitability end up in the honey causing it to ferment quicker than normal.
I am happy with the outcome here as I originally intended to replicate what I saw in the log colony all those years ago. I can say now that we have a method for everyone to work on and refine into something great that will see more honey and less bees suffering. We owe this to the bees as caretakers of them and by keeping them in a man made habitat. We don’t as keepers really do anything for the bees and they don’t owe us. So lets do what we can to cause minimal damage to their homes while taking something that we love so much.
Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival”.