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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Question New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    I started my first TBH in the spring and bought an initial package in late March. After about 2 weeks, I purchased another package and subsequently split one hive once it almost outgrew the box. So now we have three seemingly healthy hives. I have all three boxes basically full of comb and brood. So far, no full bar production of capped honey has occured. The August hot weather in NC seems to have exhausted most of their stored honey, so I have begun feeding 1:1 sugar water in an attempt to help them build up some stored honey. I have not used the follower board, other than when I first introduced the new packages. Should I be doing anything different to encourage full bar honey production in the future? Right now my main focus has been to get them prepared to make it through the first winter. We've not expected any honey to harvest, but since I'm a novice, I thought I'd ask for any advise. Thanks for your help..

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,065

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Be good to see if there are any other beekeepers near you, so you can see if the issue is just the area you are in, or if there is a problem with your bees.

    But if they have little / no honey now, yes, you will have to feed them to get them through winter.

    As they started from scratch this year, they had to build comb etc. next year they will have a head start & may do better.

    Others may dissagree, but for me anyway, I'd recommend testing them for varroa and taking appropriate measures if need be. If your hive was started this season, the typical varroa cycle is they will build up during the season then kill the hive in the winter. For a number of reasons such as tolerant bees, and several other reasons, this may not happen, but it can happen and often does, so you should at least check the hive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Thanks for your suggestions. Yes, I have joined the local bee club and getting guidance and some help from traditional bee keepers. Not many TBH Keepers, so the process seems to be slightly different. I attended the local club meeting last night and although most feel the mites have not been as bad lately, now might be the time to test and begin some treatment. Do you have suggestions for appropriate kinds of treatment for the top bar. There seems to be so many options out and difficult to determine what's best? I'm thinking of beginning supplimenting the sugar water feeding with the Honey B Healthy suppliment as a means to give them more help?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    I started my TBH this June and they built comb like crazy (20 bars full) and also have not started storing honey at all. They're italians and i just re-queened them last weekend. Thinking that they will start to store honey in September. Plan to give them some fondant over winter to help them survive but i'm pretty much going to let them do what they do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Thanks, sounds like we are in similar shape. I'm curious, how often do you re-queen. Two of my 3 queens came with this year's spring packages I purchased, and the third self generated from the split. All seemed to be very productive, but I just heard a recommendation that you should re-queen every year? I appreciate your reply..

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    I'm only re-queening because the original queen was from a package of italians from GA and i'm in the northeast. I'm starting down the road of local, hearty bees and mostly treatment free beekeeping. Bees know how to do it naturally without us, we just have to get out of their way mostly and help them get back to their more natural state: smaller and stronger. Check out Dee Lusby's writings on small cells and treatment free beekeeping especially related to varoa mite. basically the smaller the bee the smaller the space between the "plates" of the bees body. smaller plates make it harder for the mites to suck blood. bigger plates, bigger spaces, easier access for mites to dig in and hold on. Like a suit of armor. Amazing stuff, and i'm just starting the learning process. Learned a ton at the Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference a couple weeks ago. http://beeuntoothers.com/2010Conference.html

    Also check out Corwin Bell- He's an amazing force for promoting healthy bees.

    Cheers,

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Totnes, Devon, England
    Posts
    1,020

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Quote Originally Posted by rlw4342 View Post
    Thanks, sounds like we are in similar shape. I'm curious, how often do you re-queen. Two of my 3 queens came with this year's spring packages I purchased, and the third self generated from the split. All seemed to be very productive, but I just heard a recommendation that you should re-queen every year? I appreciate your reply..
    Re-queening every year is the commercial beekeeper's 'lazy way' of swarm control, on the strength of the idea that queens rarely swarm in their first year. As queens only hit their stride in their second season, this is a practice to be consigned to the junk-heap of bad beekeeping.

    If the bees decide they need a new queen, they will replace her by supersedure. Only beekeepers who think they know better than their bees will deliberately re-queen without very good reason.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,065

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Wow, now I understand. Commercial beekeepers requeen cos they're lazy and probably don't know no better.

    I'm priviliged to be learning something new all the time!

    I haven't read the Barefott Beekeeper, is that the kind of stuff they teach you in it?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chester Co, PA, USA
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    No that isn't what I learned in the Barefoot Beekeeper or any where else. Any keepers who have hundreds of hives and move them around, are FAR from lazy. Each type of bee keeping requires different methods. Name calling servrs no purpose!
    Meridith

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Hi RLW..this is kenny in wake forest...im not sure if it was you i talked to earlier in the yr about your TBH's..with the hot weather we had in June and July with very little rain the honey harvest in central NC will be dismall at best..i have about 30 pounds of honey stored in each hive and i intend to leave most of it for the bees..i built close to 200 TBH's last year and the people ive talked to in this area have all had a slow to no go honey harvest...friends of mine at the coast had a fair harvest but many are leaving the honey to the bees in hope to split their hives in the spring

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Well you all are at least putting my mind at ease. I am in Western NC on the NC/SC border. My first hive has put up very little honey as well. They are still in a single medium and not really filling that. I didn't know if it was me, the bees, or the weather. Of course, right now they are working the kudzu and wild clematis. (Never thought that I;d be thankful for kudzu!!!

    I intended to use a TBH, but couldn't get the girls to transfer from a nuc, so I chickened out and went with a lang. Next year, I will put my TBH to use!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Yes, Kenny, we did talk and I'm still owing you that jar of honey, but I still have not harvested any yet ! I think I'm learing a lot about the process, and seem to be expanding the bee population, but it will definitly be next year before I have any honey to share. I'd still like to get together sometime in Raleigh area and catch up. I've started feedeing my bees with sugar water the last few weeks and they are building up reservour from that, so hopefully they will come out strong in the springtime. Thanks for sharing that everyone seems to be sharing in the challenge of a productive year. Talk soon.

    Richard

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Its nice to hear from you again Richard..i have a new phone number ill post so give me a call sometime and we can talk bees, catch up and see when youd like to come see the hives..also, ill give you a little taste of this Wake Forest honey....tc

    kenny

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Opps...forgot the number...give me a call sometime...919-270-6273

    kenny

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    Thanks, Kenny.. I'll get up with you soon......

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Delaware County, New York, USA
    Posts
    178

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    I certainly would like to hear more from other TBH beekeepers, but no-honey-to-take seems to be the norm for TBHs compared to those using Langs anyway. This has been my experience. Nobody did too well last year; it was the worst honey producing year in the US in its beekeeping history!

    And this year we had a major dearth - at least here in the Northeast. Nevertheless, Langstroth beekeepers seemed to have done rather well.

    My two TBHs survived the winter - barely. I got four more nucs in spring. Three out of my six total died out. Much of the cause was because of my lack of knowledge and experience. I am very new to this. Whatever the case, I'm done with TBHs and converting to all Langs as soon as I can. Got most of my supplies for next year already.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    I've not given up on the TBH yet, but as you point out there seems to be a lot to figure out and most people are into Langs.. I've resolved that I'm not intending to be in 'production' honey making, but I would hope to have at least something to harvest by next year. I'm now feeding my bees about every other day and they are taking a lot of sugar water and putting this up in the comb as an alternative to apparently not much nector flow right now. I'm not real sure how long I should keep this up, but for now they seem to be liking it and at least their activity level has picked up.

    I've come up with a home made external feeder and they will take 2 or 3 quarts per day, or as much as I'll give them. I've heard that bees won't pass on nature's nector for sugar water, but if anyone has different experience, I'd appreciate.

  18. #18

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    but no-honey-to-take seems to be the norm for TBHs compared to those using Langs anyway. This has been my experience.
    Maybe for your tbh's. you are inferring a lot based on your one person experience on the whole of tbh beekeeping though.

    You then say :
    Nobody did too well last year;
    and remember that 'nobody' includes Lang users as well. if it's a bad honey year overall and the vast majority of beekeepers are still using langs, then it is not necessarily a tbh issue. Just maybe yours and I agree, it sucks when you don't feel successful.

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Delaware County, New York, USA
    Posts
    178

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    That's right. "Nobody" means everybody in this case.

    Of course I can't speak for all TBH beekeepers, so my comments are anecdotal as they say. And I'm really amazed that there is a (Are there many?) TBH beekeeper that actually does commercial almond pollination. I don't know how he does it - and I'd be very open to hearing!

    I belong to the NYC Beekeepers Co-op (even though my hives are in upstate NY) and the reports I'm getting from them is that they had a great honey crop in their Langs this season - in the middle of NYC! And I'm left scratching my head in the middle of the New York State watershed!

    I'm aware these past two years have been less than ideal for bees, and I may be acting hastily, but I'm going to Langs. I'm keeping the three TBH colonies that have survived, putting two into Langs, and putting packages into two Warres. I'd like to compare them all.
    Last edited by Stone; 08-28-2010 at 03:23 PM. Reason: Typos, factual correction.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Stoke on trent,UK
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: New TBH Keeper - No honey to harvest?

    I too started beekeeping this year in two TBHs . No honey.

    But then anyone with two new hives started from nothing this year is going to be lucky to get any honey. And then to compare results with established beekeepers and blame the hives!

    Unless very lucky, those who started with conventional hives at the same time as me have no honey. Some have no bees due to bad weather leading to starvation. The others like me have had to feed.

    Comparing a just started operation with established keepers is just meaningless especially when the keeper is a novice versus experienced keepers.

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