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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, NY
    Posts
    110

    Default leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    Hi all. New beek wondering what would be the downside of leaving honey supers on over winter and just harvesting in spring, when the next flow starts, instead of guessing how much to take in the fall and then maybe having to feed in late winter if we didn't leave enough and/or in spring if the flow doesn't come on as early/strong as we hoped? Or am I overlooking something, like honey left in the combs that long (potentially almost a year) will start to crystallize or something? thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,503

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    The crystalization is the main drawback to leaving it on and extracting what they don't use. The university of Minneasota advocates three deep boxes for the bees to winter in and that works out to a lot of honey left on. I would say it could be 180 pounds. It is your call.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    3,997

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    You could also use the extra honey to jump start new hives in the spring.
    Dan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, NY
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    Good point Dan. But, if it does crystallize, the new hives will dump it, right? I think I read that on here somewhere, bees don't eat crystallized honey, they remove/dump it, which is odd given they will eat crystal sugar.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    3,997

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    The bees will re liquify it with water, & use it.
    Dan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Arcade,NY
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    You should have two deep brood boxes now. the top brood box should have about 80 to 100 pounds of honey stored for winter. if you don't have enough honey now I would keep the honey on.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    I'm new at this too. If your hive came down with something and you chose to medicate, would not all your honey and frames be unfit for having honey that people would eat?
    I haven't been around this forum long enough to know if most people posting go medicine-less or not, nor do I know if some medicines, once they run their course, work their way out of the hive, and you can use the frames/eat the honey from them. I'd be interested to learn more about this.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    You will very rarely have a colony need more than two deep boxes for stores and wintering ability. If they need more you should probably let them starve to death anyway lol, because these genetics will rob you of all profitability. If you have one deep full of honey, and the bottom deep is 60% honey, then pollen, and open comb for clustering, that should be more than ample for wintering. Im not sure why MN UV suggests 3 other than this; If you have three deeps, you have plenty of honey for spring development and you sure the heck should not have to even think about feeding your bees. I guess if you left three deeps, a rookie should have plenty of food insurance for their bees. But, if you treat for American foul brood, mites, and nosema, you cant touch those frames so it seems like a bad idea to me. Now treatment free beeks will chime in and say not if you dont treat. Good luck with wintering untreated bees is my answer but to all his own I guess.

    One more thing, every area is different in spring. I have one yard that will have a flow in early march if we get a spring heat wave, but another five miles away has nothing if it warms up this early. So depending on your area, and your philosophy, do as you wish. You may need a few years to get a better idea and safe is always better than sorry.
    Last edited by WI-beek; 09-06-2011 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Additional comment

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,461

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    I know a Commercial Beekeeper down South of Syracuse, w/ bees in other parts of NY, who does just that. Quite often honey prone to crystalize earlier than other honey won't be crystalized 6 or 7 months later.

    I would tend to think tyhat that honey is closest to the brood nest anyway and gets eaten up first. The earlier honey being stored higher in the hive.

    Not a bad idea for a stationary beekeeper.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Watauga, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    364

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    I have a similar question.
    I have one hive that has stored up two eight frame mediums of honey. Making for four eight frame mediums altogether. Should I just leave that fourth super this winter (risking crystallization) or should I remove it to freeze and give back if needed?
    I'm trying to think about clustering behaviour and which would be more beneficial, and that makes me think it would be better to put the top box on the bottom if I leave it...
    4.5 hives of Italians. 2 seasons of experience. And you-- yes, you! You're my mentor!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,884

    Default Re: leaving honey on over winter, harvesting in spring?

    Bees eat honey during the winter months. When spring arrives, they want nectar. Nectar is brood food. George Imerie was adamant about this. Walt Wright is also keen on the idea. In the spring, the bees don't need the honey. They need room for brood nest expansion and storage of incoming nectar and pollen.

    If you leave honey all winter long, which is fine, you had better pull it and extract it in the spring or it will simply fill comb and take up the space that is needed for brood rearing. When you deliberately reduce the volume of brood comb by leaving the honey in the hive, you run the risk of triggering a swarm. Swarms are caused, in part, from the shortage of cell space when incoming nectar competes with the queen's desire to lay eggs. They call this congestion.

    A second option is to leave the honey in the hive, but be sure and add an extra brood box as the queen is looking for more room.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

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