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Using Ross Rounds for Section Honey

by Joel W. Govostes - jwg6@cornell.edu

Make sure the supers are the correct depth. The comb honey supers sold by manufacturers are usually a bit too deep (maybe this has already changed). You should have about 1/4 - 3/8 clearance above the frames across the super, and 1/8 inch or so beneath the frames. If you have more, the bees will often build a lot of honey-filled burr-comb between the supers, which can be a mess when you try to harvest the supers.

The bees can construct and fill the combs pretty fast during a good flow. (After all, the super is only going to hold about 16-18 pounds of honey, total.) So keep an eye on them, with weekly checks anyway so you can stay ahead of the bees. I used to produce the rounds exclusively, and it worked out pretty well to add the next super when about half the sections on the hive were becoming capped over.

If you are in the midst of a good nectar flow, and they have made good progress on the first super of sections, you can raise it and put the next one underneath it. This can help reduce travel-staining on the capped sections, and gets the bees to occupy the newly added sections immediately.

There are lots of detailed and somewhat complicated methods for section comb honey, but as a beginner you don't really need to go for them. Here is what will usually work very well:

The first honey super or two added are extracting supers (shallow or medium) with frames. This would usually be in May in the Northeast, for comparison. When the main/major nectar flow begins (here that's June, with its black locust and clover flows) give them a round-section super *underneath* the extracting super(s) which are already becoming filled. In this position, the bees will start work on it quickly.

When all but perhaps the 4 sections at the corners are completely capped, try to harvest them ASAP, so the cappings will be nice and light, for the most attractive package. Then you can place any unfinished sections into the next, newly fitted-out super, towards the center, and they will be completed for harvesting next time around.

It is much better to use clear covers on both sides (IMO), when it comes time to pack and label them. Some comb-honey producers put a clear cover on the best side, and an opaque one on the other side (bottom). To me this isn't nearly as interesting and attractive than a section packaged so that the customer can see both sides clearly.

Any sections which are only partially filled or finished can be dealt with thusly: Cut the parts containing honey out of the combs. Put these cuts in a wide-mouth jar, and pour liquid honey around them. This chunk honey usually sells well. If you warm the liquid honey to about 140 degrees first, and let it cool before pouring it in, this will help retard granulation.

Finally, when fitting out the super, make sure the rings go in the frames the right way. I'm not sure about the Ross rings, but some of the rings from another manufacturer had little dimples on one edge, which had to be oriented right or the ring would not go into the frame right.

Good luck with this - people seem to really like the round sections; they also make great gifts. I have sold them to people making gift-baskets as a Business, and they are an ideal regional product for such uses.


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