There are numerous factors that go into the decision when to harvest honey from hives. Be patient. The bees need appropriate time to collect nectar and process it into honey. Rush the process and harvest before it is fully ripened by the bees and you may end up with fermented honey. Not the end of the world since it is still edible and makes great mead, but if high quality honey that stores well or is for sale is your goal, low moisture is what you want.
A good rule of thumb is to not extract unless at least 75% of the cells in the honey combs are capped. By extracting one uncapped honey frame for every three capped frames of honey, the overall moisture content will tend to be below the level where fermentation will occur.
Honey Bee Forage Map
For more information about the ideal time to harvest honey in various parts of the U.S., check out NASA’s Honey Bee Forage Map by clicking here.