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Author Topic: slow capping?  (Read 1137 times)
Zoot
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« on: May 21, 2007, 11:39:31 PM »

Can cool nights effect the time involved in capping frames that are full of nectar? We are having a fairly strong flow here - all of my hives have multiple supers that are full of nectar. In most cases the frames are 30 to 50% capped but it seems to be proceeding slowly. Unusually so. Our days have been beautiful here all through May, moderately warm (60's to 70's) with unusually cool nights (low 40's tonight). Very little rain.
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Dane Bramage
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2007, 12:01:19 AM »

I don't have a definitive answer for you, but I was considering this as well.  Since capping is dependent upon the honey evaporating (ripening) to the point where it has ~ x% (13-17%?) moisture content, and since honey is also hygroscopic, I was hypothesizing that the relative humidity would have a rather large role in capping times.  I *think* (read - have no evidence) that relative humidity would be a larger factor than cool nights... though a cool, humid night would be worst-case scenario.  I think unusually cool nights could definitely be the sole cause too though.
That potentially being the case, I'm happily thinking my local climate is ideal for honey production.  The bloom is (typically) very well fed by ample winter and spring rains (= LUSH!) yet it's quite dry all summer... close to a Mediterranean climate.




All things being equal (assuming same nectar source as previous years, with same moisture content), what is the RH there lately and how does it compare to past seasons (& capping times, if you have comparative data)?
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Understudy
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2007, 07:37:48 AM »

Moisture content is the biggest factor in when honey gets capped. However as far as humidity in the air I am not sure. I live in an area with a 90% or higher RH during the summer. The bees sometimes cap in a week. Sometimes in a month and it can be different from one hive to another.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Zoot
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2007, 10:58:20 AM »

Well, those were my thoughts pretty much exactly (thanks for posting the chart Dane). It was my hope that this spring - the driest in about 20 years here - would provide an environment for quicker curing times. Obviously, there are other factors at work. Perhaps the dry weather, while not seeming to effect nectar gathering (my bees have gahtered far more than at this time last year) is having some sort of unanticipated - by me anyway - effect.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2007, 03:44:02 PM »

Curing of honey can be a matter of space.  The more cells available to house the nectar the faster it can be processed.  As it is processed down to about 17-20 water then it gets consolidated and capped.  If the capping is slowed it may be because of having to consolidate the nectar before it is condensed to the same level as that with which it was added to.  One way to speed up the cure rate of the honey is to add another super. 
Finskey has talked about this a lot.
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Zoot
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2007, 11:39:16 PM »

They already look like skyscrapers as it is - 7 boxes on 2 hives. The top 3 are full (though not fully capped as mentioned) so I guess I'll put another super on each tomorrow.
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heaflaw
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2007, 10:32:21 PM »

Is this logic correct?:

Honey bees don't store honey for us to take.  They store it because that is what they live on.  If the stored honey is near the brood nest they may not cap it because they plan to consume it soon. This reasoning is why some beekeepers put an empty super under a partially full one.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2007, 09:19:52 PM »

Cured honey will be capped until they need it.  The most likely honey to be uncapped is that near the brood because thats is what's being fed to them.  Any honey, not in a brood chamber, can be looked upon as harvestable. 
In the fall you want to harvest the excess and then force the bees into a honeybound situation so they have enough stores to survive the winter.
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