By now you should have a super of two with honey stores and wondering what to do next, first we must decide if the honey is ready to extract or make cut comb. If the honey is 100% capped then you can guarantee that the water content is low enough for extraction, if however you have less than 3/4 of the frame capped or 3/4 of the batch to be extracted capped then you need to do one of two things, either do a shack test which involves holding the frame firmly at a horizontal plane and give one good hard shack or jolt, if honey escapes from the frame then the water content in the honey is not low enough. The other way to test the water content is to buy or borrow a honey refractometer and take samples from each frame.
Failure to get the water content below 21% will result in your honey spoiling and it is also illegal to sell honey like that, ideally you need to get your honey water content down to around 18%.
The next step is clearing the supers, the last thing you want is trying to shake the bees from the frames so most of us use clearing boards. There are many types on the market and the most common used are the porter bee escapes purely because thats what is supplied with most new hive, to be honest I have never used them as I took advice before I started beekeeping due to the fact they can get clogged with bees and propolis. The Rhombus escape is about the best I have used as it clears bees in a few hours and no moving parts to get gummed up. If you use a crown board with a central feed hole and have a shallow eke then all you need to do is attach the Rhombus escape to the underside of your crown board with some map or drawing pins. If you don't have that equipment then you can buy of make the Rhombus board and escape.
OK what next? You have to decide if all the bees in the supers to be cleared are going to fit into the brood box, if you are extracting in the fall then the colony would have shrunk enough by then but if you are extracting mid season then you will probably need to put on a empty super first, cramming bees into a brood box can cause the bees to go into swarm mode.
The next bit is easy, remove the roof, crown board and supers to be extracted, place the empty super/s (if needed) on top of the crown board, place the escape board next and then the supers to be extracted, replace the crown board and roof.
If you are using a rhombus escape then wait eight hours before removing the supers, if you are using porter bee escapes then wait 24-48 hours.
On return to the hive it is always handy to have a few spare crown boards or thin plane boards to cover the supers for when you have removed then as the bees will alway try to take their honey back.
Here is a picture of a Rhombus escape with the board attached, you can buy just the Rhombus escapes for less than £5 and make the board yourself
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