1. In most areas the honey flow will continue into early June, then begin tapering off in mid June, fully ending by late June. The first half of June continue adding honey supers when the existing super becomes 75% full of honey.
2. When the major nectar producing plants in your area begin dying, that is a signal that the honey flow is coming to an end. You will also begin noticing your hive is bringing in less nectar.
3. Bees typically cap honey once it is cured, but there are several scenarios where the honey may be cured, but not capped. To see if uncapped honey is ready to harvest, simply hold the frame of honey horizontally over your hive, and shake it vigorously. Uncured honey will rain out of the cells. Cured honey will not come out at all, or only a few drips can be shaken out. If that is the case, the honey is ready to harvest.
4. There are many methods to remove bees from your supers once the honey flow ends, and you are ready to harvest. In Texas, we recommend fume boards, a bee brush, or blowing with a bee blower or leaf blower. Bee escapes are not recommended due to the presence of small hive beetles in Texas. Smoking the hive extensively is also not recommended, as over smoking is not very effective, and can give the honey a smoky flavor. Remember to extract your honey right away after harvesting. Storing honey supers for several hours, or days, give small hive beetles a chance to ruin your crop.
5. Once your honey is harvested, place your supers back on your hive to let the bees clean up the excess honey. Remember, your bees will be “robby” since there is very little natural nectar available. Make sure to put your freshly harvested honey supers back on your hives late in the evening, which will give your hive all night to clean and remove the excessive smell of honey. This will help prevent other hives from robbing your hive the next day. Once the supers have been cleaned, you can remove all but 1 box above your brood nest, and store the rest in wax moth crystals for the next season.
6. Begin providing a water source for your bees as natural water sources begin drying up for the summer.
7. Post harvest care of your hive is the most critical time of the entire beekeeping year. Two of the things that are most important for post harvest care are feeding and treating. Begin feeding and don't stop until your hive has reached 30 lb. surplus of stored syrup. Also, mite treatment is critical once honey is removed because mite levels typically peak in July. Post harvest care will be outlined in more detail in the July tips.