If you are a beekeeper you probably get excited by honey! When it really starts to flow it can be an amazing feeling. Maybe because you are thinking of all the hard cash you can earn by selling it or maybe just because of all the wholesome honey you will have to feed your family and friends! However, there will be times as a beekeeper when you don’t have enough time to extract the honey from the honey frames or supers that you collected. In that regard, how do you store honey bee frames before extraction?
It is recommended that you only store honey frames for 2 to 3 days before extraction unless you freeze them. Keep the honey frames in a clean and dry area to prevent bacteria and moisture from building up. Also, it is best to keep the supers in a spot that is free and far away from pests such as ants and bugs.
Storing honey supers might not be the most recommended thing to do for a beekeeper but there are simply times where it is unavoidable for you to avoid storing them, especially when you don’t have enough time to extract the honey. That’s why we are here to help you learn how to properly store your honey frames so that they stay clean and fresh in time for extraction.
How do you store honey frames?
When it comes to beekeeping or honey bee farming, one of the things you need to make sure of is that you plan your honey harvests the right way so that the entire process of extraction and storing the honey before selling is as smooth as possible. If you can, take an entire day or two to collect the honey frames or supers, extracting the honey, and cleaning the finished product.
However, there are times when we might not have enough time in our hands to actually do the entire extraction process even though the honey has already been capped and is ready for harvesting. So, what should you do in that case?
Some people would say that it would be better to keep the capped honey with the bees because they know best what to do with the honey and how to take care of their own product properly. But doing so will leave the honey open to pests and other conditions that may end up ruining the quality of the honey. As such, you might choose to collect the frames and store the honey supers instead! This gives you some buffer from the time you harvest to when you extract if that buffer is needed.
So clearly, the first step in storing those precious honey supers involves making sure you collect the frames from your beehives with love and care 🙂 After that, you basically have two choices here. The first one is storing them in a safe and dry area. Meanwhile, the second choice is for you to freeze the honey frames.
Some people might want to freeze the honey frames for storage for at least 48 hours because this basically stops the crystallization process and ends up killing any insects or pests that may be in the frames. That’s basically it. You just need to store the honey frames in a big enough freezer to keep them safe. However, it is important that you wrap the frames with plastic before freezing them because doing so will prevent moisture from getting to the honey. Also, once your supers are in the freezer, try not to keep opening and closing it often to maintain the honey’s integrity.
Note that, if you don’t have enough freezer space or if you just simply don’t want to freeze your honey frames, here is what you can do instead:
- Do not store the honey if you are planning on storing it for more than 2 to 3 days. The reason is that crystallization can happen any time after storing the honey for more than 2 or 3 days. The chances of pests finding your honey supers can also increase the more you leave the frames stored.
- Do not mix the capped honey cells with the uncapped honey cells. That’s because the uncapped honey can end up leaking out, which will promote the growth of mold. The mold will end up compromising the uncapped honey.
- Find a spot that is dry. Any excess moisture in the area will easily promote the growth of mold and bacteria on the honey frames. Of course, if the humidity is also high, the honey could begin to ferment.
- Make sure that you are storing the honey frames in an area that is far from any known hotspot for pests such as ants and bugs. If pests are an issue for you, just freeze the honey for at least two days before removing them for extraction.
- If you do insist on keeping your honey out of the freezer, the best way to protect them from pests is to wrap the honey frames with plastic.
- Do not put the honey frames in the refrigerator because this will speed up the crystallization process, which will make it impossible for you to extract the honey.
- If your honey does indeed get moldy or if it ferments, you can feed it back to your bees because they can still make use of moldy honey. But some beekeepers tend to throw moldy honey away. Personally, I don’t like to waste all the bees hard work where possible 🙂
Following these tips will help keep your honey frames as safe from pests and predators as possible while also making sure that the quality is intact. However, we still recommend that you freeze your honey if you have the freezer space because doing so is much better and easier than finding a safe spot for your honey supers.
How do you store uncapped honey frames?
When bees know that the honey is ready, such as when the moisture level is below 18%, they will cap the honey by covering it with a wax-like substance. However, there will still be times when the honey frames are not capped even though the honey is actually ready. So, how do you store uncapped honey frames?
As mentioned, we do not recommend storing the uncapped honey frames together with the capped ones because of how this can promote the growth of mold. So, what do you do with the uncapped honey?
First off, if certain frames have cells that are uncapped, you need to shake the frame to let loose the uncapped honey. You will certainly end up wasting the uncapped honey but this is better than increasing the chances of all of the other cells and frames becoming moldy.
After that, if you have frames that mostly have uncapped honey, the best way to store the frames is to wrap them with plastic and then freeze them. Do not store them outside of the freezer because the chances of these uncapped honey frames becoming moldy are going to be high due to how they have excess moisture.
Where do you store honey frames?
As to where you can store honey frames, you can basically store them anywhere as long as the spot you are storing them meets the right conditions. Here are some of the conditions best suited for storing honey frames:
- Limited airflow to reduce the moisture in the surrounding area
- Far from any known hotspots for pests such as ants and other similar bugs
- Room temperature because cooler temperatures that aren’t freezing will speed up the crystallization process
- Clean and sanitary enough to prevent the growth of bacteria and other micro-organisms
So long as you have a room, storage space, or spot that fits the abovementioned conditions, you can safely store your honey frames there for up to 2 to 3 days, but never more than that.
How long can you store honey frames?
We have mentioned that you should only store your honey frames for about 2 to 3 days at the max if you intend on keeping them out of the freezer. While you can still keep them for an extra day or two, you are only going to make the honey frames more vulnerable to pests and predators.
Moreover, the longer the honey frames stay stored, the higher the chances that crystallization would begin. Once your honey crystallizes, you can no longer extract it from the honey frames. That’s why it is important for you to limit their storage for 2 to 3 days only.
Can you reuse honey frames?
Finally, after you have extracted your honey from the honey frames or supers, what can you do with them? Can you still reuse the honey frames after they have already been used? Well, of course, you can!
The good news here is that you can lightly clean the frames and then place them back in the hive again because the bees are going to clean them up for you. However, we recommend that you clean the frames yourself before putting them back in the hive because you want your bees to focus on the more productive parts of their job instead of letting them clean the supers for you.
When cleaning the frames, make sure you do so thoroughly. Air the frames out to keep them dry. After that, freeze the frames to kill off any pests and micro-organisms that may still be on them. However, if black mold has started to develop on the foundations of the frames, you shouldn’t reuse them anymore. Instead, throw the frames out.