Beekeeping Information Centre

Bee Craft Timely Reminder – 4th May 2018

Oil Seed Rape update.
Earlier TR requires clarification as unripe nectar will ferment after extraction. So what can you do?

If when you shake the frame no nectar drops out, it is likely that most of the frame is ripe. However this could still lead to fermented honey before very long – unless it’s blended with honey of much higher sugar content.

Stephen, one of our deputy editors, lives in an area where he is surrounded by OSR. His guidance is to take the supers off as soon as green starts to peek through the blanket of yellow in the fields as the flowers go over. Even then the long-term fermentation threat from any unsealed honey is real. OSR doesn’t set immediately it is sealed – the bees will keep it warm and liquid for a time – but beware cold nights and swarming (bee warmth departs!) that allows the sealed honey to crystallise very quickly. It will of course set quite quickly in any event, so speed of extraction is very important.

So you will need to extract into buckets as quickly as possible after you remove the supers from the hive, keeping them warm in the interim. Interestingly there are different types of OSR but one seems not to do the rapid set.

The weather seems to be warming up, so keep an eye on your hives and take the opportunity when it arrives for a quick inspection to see how the colony is building. If you are close to OSR and the temperature remains on the climb, be prepared in case supers are needed.

In other parts of the country it is still wet, cold and dismal. If this is where you are, please think about whether your colonies need to be fed. Winter is going on much longer than anticipated and while there appears to be forage around, it may be still too cold for the bees to take advantage of it.


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