When to harvest honey

Harvesting honey can be one of the most rewarding experiences as a beekeeper, and if you have a bee hive in your garden, you may be wondering when it’s time to harvest your honey. To help you determine whether your honey is ready to harvest, we’ve listed our top five signs below:

1. Wax Caps

One of the most obvious signs that your honey is ready to harvest is the presence of wax caps on the cells in the comb. Bees will seal each honey cell with a thin layer of wax to protect it from spoilage. When the honey is fully ripened, and the cells are filled, the bees will add a final layer of wax to close the cell. If you see a large number of cells that are capped with wax, it is a good sign that your honey is ready to be harvested.

Wax caps showing that honey is ready to be harvested

2. Colour

The colour of honey can vary depending on the type of flowers from which the bees have collected their nectar. Generally, lighter-coloured honey is considered to be more immature, while darker honey is often fully ripened. If your honey has a light amber colour, it is probably not quite ready to be harvested. However, if it is a rich amber colour, it is likely ready to be harvested.

3. Consistency

The consistency of honey can also be an indicator of its readiness. When honey is fully ripened, it will be thicker and more viscous than immature honey. If your honey is runny or watery, it is probably not ready to be harvested. However, if it has a thick, syrup-like consistency, it is probably harvest-ready.

Syrup like consistency of honey

4. Bee Activity

Another way to determine if your honey is ready is by observing the activity of the bees in the hive. If the bees are actively collecting nectar and pollen, it is likely that the honey is not yet ready to be harvested. However, if the bees are spending more time inside the hive and less time foraging, it is a good sign that it is harvest time.

5. Flavour

Finally, you can determine if your honey is ready to harvest is by its taste. Immature honey will have a mild, floral flavour, while fully ripened honey will have a rich, bold flavour that is characteristic of the type of flowers that the bees have collected nectar. If you taste your honey and find that it has a bold, rich flavour, it is likely that it is ready to be harvested.

If you have a Flow Hive like us, Flow has created a great guide on how to harvest your honey. You can click here if you prefer to read step-by-step instructions – they also have some fantastic additional information on harvesting honey.

Harvesting honey from a bee hive is a rewarding experience that requires careful observation and a good understanding of the indicators that signal the honey is ready. By paying attention to the wax caps, colour, flavour, consistency, and bee activity in your hive, you can be confident that you are harvesting your honey at the right time and therefore guaranteeing the highest quality.