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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    55

    Default Overwintering and feeding

    I have a question on overwintering and feeding the bees in Pacific Northwest environment. My preference is to keep them fed with their own honey rather than sugar water. I have read that a hive needs 50-60 lbs of honey to survive the winter. I have been told to remove all honey supers before winter, leaving only the 2 deep brood boxes for the bees. If I remove the honey supers, how is that honey fed back to the bees as needed (supers are mediums, brood are deeps). Also, is it okay to open the hive during the winter to check food status?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    Quote Originally Posted by BoiseBeekeeper View Post
    I have a question on overwintering and feeding the bees in Pacific Northwest environment. My preference is to keep them fed with their own honey rather than sugar water. I have read that a hive needs 50-60 lbs of honey to survive the winter. I have been told to remove all honey supers before winter, leaving only the 2 deep brood boxes for the bees. If I remove the honey supers, how is that honey fed back to the bees as needed (supers are mediums, brood are deeps). Also, is it okay to open the hive during the winter to check food status?
    Well a cpl things. first off 56-60 is probably a little light for your part of the country. better to err on plus than minus. nothing worse than bees eating all your honey, nad THEN dying anyway cause you were short.
    Second, never open the hive in the winter. if its above 50 a quick peek if you must.


    As for where the honey comes from they should start backfilling the brood nest and the top deep should be full of honey.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    Not in the Pacific Northwest so not sure exactly how much they need but I see no reason to take honey supers off, extract them and then feed back to the bees from a jar etc.

    If you think they will need the honey in the supers just leave the supers on the hive. That is what I would do.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    As gmcharlie said, the top deep should be mostly honey heading into winter. A deep of honey is about 80 lbs.

    As for checking stores in winter, I always advise new beekeepers to do a "heft test" starting from the time they first get bees. Just lift the back of the hive up an inch or two to get a feel for its weight each time you do an inspection. As you do this all summer and fall, you'll develop a feel for what a full/empty hive feels like. Then in the dead of winter, you can go out and check the hives weight to see if they feel light or not.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    As for where the honey comes from they should start backfilling the brood nest and the top deep should be full of honey.
    So is the idea to remove the supers and the bees will then focus on backfilling the brood nest rather than filling the supers?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    Quote Originally Posted by Keth Comollo View Post
    ...I see no reason to take honey supers off, extract them and then feed back to the bees from a jar etc.
    The person who advised removing the supers mentioned the bees would be cutoff from the honey in the supers. From that I gathered the bees would be moving lower in the 2 brood boxes and be unwilling or unable to reach the honey in the super.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    Quote Originally Posted by indypartridge View Post
    Just lift the back of the hive up an inch or two to get a feel for its weight each time you do an inspection. ... Then in the dead of winter, you can go out and check the hives weight to see if they feel light or not.
    Good advice, I will start doing that.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,306

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    If you want the bees to use surplus honey for their winter food supply, in late summer you can put the honey supers on the bottom board with the brood chambers above. The bees will move the honey from the supers to the empty areas in the brood chamber. Here in Arkansas I put a surplus super below in mid August and then top off by feeding syrup in early October. If you don't want to feed syrup, you can put 2 supers below. If you have a pollen flow in the Fall the bees will put pollen in the supers below the brood nest as they move the honey up.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Overwintering and feeding

    general speaking your supers will be as full as they get probably by aug 1st in your area (just guessing as to your climate) then they will start filling everything below that on their own. Probably look close and see the outer 4 frames un the upper box already full.... THe choice to take that super or not is then made by how far they got in the backfilling. Never saw the point of putting the super underneath and haveing it moved agian, other than not leaving the super in place for the winter.

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