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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Winnipe, Manitoba, Canada
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    5

    Sad Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Hi guys,

    I'm a first time beekeeper. I've built two top-bar hives out of 1.75" thick cedar, the hives themselves are well insulated but I may have a serious problem. My 2 packages of bees arrives March 30 and my bees will mostly be forging canola flower. From what I've heard bees will not survive the winter on canola honey. Canola honey crystallizes quickly and the honey it self is rich with nutrients, this causes the bees to make lots of trips to empty their bowels, if it's too cold and they begin to relieve themselves within the hive they will die because of dysentery. What all beekeepers here do is harvest all the honey in mid august and begin feeding the bees high volumes of sugar syrup. Sugar syrup is clean and free of nutrients, it doesn't crystallize as fast as canola and bees have to make very few cleansing flights. But here's the problem I have a top bar hive and I'll have to crush the combs, beekeepers here use langs and don't have to crush the combs.

    Will the bees be able to build all the comb back in August and September if I feed them tons of syrup? And anyone else from Manitoba or elsewhere harvest all the honey and replace it with syrup?

    I don't want my bees to die , please let me know if the syrup method will work.

    Thanks,
    Anderson Litton

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,677

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    As I see the situation, the Lang beekeepers need to harvest before crystallization otherwise the honey will not come out of their combs when in the extractor. But since you are using crush and strain, crystallization is not a serious problem for you. So don't harvest honey the first year, and let the bees eat what they need over winter. Bees can eat crystallized honey. Here's more on that:
    http://www.honeybeesuite.com/can-bee...allized-honey/

    Given your location, I would try to figure out, before you might actually need it, how you could feed your TBH bees, if needed.
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Winnipe, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    As I see the situation, the Lang beekeepers need to harvest before crystallization otherwise the honey will not come out of their combs when in the extractor. But since you are using crush and strain, crystallization is not a serious problem for you. So don't harvest honey the first year, and let the bees eat what they need over winter. Bees can eat crystallized honey. Here's more on that:
    http://www.honeybeesuite.com/can-bee...allized-honey/

    Given your location, I would try to figure out, before you might actually need it, how you could feed your TBH bees, if needed.
    Thanks for the info Graham, but the problem isn't harvesting it's the fact canola honey and our environment doesn't allow bees to gather water and make cleansing flights that the caused by the "undigestibles" in the honey. Syrup has very few "undigestibles". When the average temperature in winter is -30c bees won't be able to feed on the canola honey and will most likely die.


    Do you think if I harvest all the honey in the beginning of August and begin feeding syrup to my hive, that they'll be able to replace the honey and comb I take by the end of September?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,677

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Quote Originally Posted by And View Post
    ... the problem isn't harvesting it's the fact canola honey and our environment doesn't allow bees to gather water and make cleansing flights that the caused by the "undigestibles" in the honey.
    Are you sure that canola honey really has this issue? Here's an interesting document discussing managing bees on canola, and there can be concerns, but it says nothing about anything related "undigestibles" with canola honey.
    http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/ass...on-canoloa.pdf

    I think you are asking for trouble taking all their comb in August and expecting it to be rebuilt and filled by the end of September. But I certainly could be wrong, and have never kept bees anywhere but Tennessee.
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    missouri
    Posts
    152

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Quote Originally Posted by And View Post
    Do you think if I harvest all the honey in the beginning of August and begin feeding syrup to my hive, that they'll be able to replace the honey and comb I take by the end of September?
    no way they would have time to replace the comb and get stores built up for winter if you must remove the honey would look at ways to possibly extract it without destroying the comb.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    905

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    And - I would strongly recommend getting new hives to an area where there was a greater variety of flowers. A single monoculture crop won't cut it, especially canola / rapeseed. I would double my wager if I lived that far north. An area with more than half a dozen different crops well-timed would give you a better chance.

    I would add pollen (or substitute) patties and I'd add essential oils to the sugar syrup, but my first priority would be to get those bees nearer to a greater variety of flowers.

    Bejay is correct, but I would be sure to time the honey harvest early, not late. A failed fall bloom would doom your bees, comb or no comb.

    Rader is also correct. Do not harvest the first year...let them build up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,361

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    I have heard the concept that bees can't eat crystallized honey in the winter. I have never found it to be true. Our fall honey crystallized quickly. The bees don't seem to have any issues with it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    The problem isn't with crystallized honey in general it is a problem specific to canola honey and long winters with no or few cleansing flights.
    You could try to set aside surplus honey from other sources like clover or alfalfa or any syrup comb built in spring to put back in the fall.
    They will build comb during fall feeding but not sure if it would be enough to winter on. That would depend on how much and how early you start feeding.
    I never extract the brood frames. I do make sure most of the honey is to the outside before I start feeding so that it will be consumed late winter or early spring when temperatures should allow for cleansing flights if needed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    your issue as I understand it is comb storage. I would suspect that the backfilling of the broodnest are would be sufficient to handle this. In the TBH I use the brood bars are 1 1/4 wide and honey bars a 1 3/8 I use 20 brood and 10 honey. those 20 brood combs can be backfilled very quickly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Maybe you should contact Acebird about scratch and drain. He says he can get a fair amount of the honey out of the frames. You could do that then you could feed sugar syrup. Kilo, in the prairie provinces bees can usually build up enough to give a fair honey crop, sometimes more than 100 pounds. I'm not sure about top bar hives though.


    Nathan
    Good enough is perfect - Joel Salatin

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
    Posts
    1,303

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Canola honey on the prairies for sure isan issue. Knowing this, I'm not sure why you would choose a top bar hive. Harvesting all the honey in august then trying to feed heavily could be tricky. I did meet a woman from Calgary that usese top bar hives. She undersupers them for the honey harvest. Maybe when you harvest in August the brood nest is large say, 8 frames and if you feed heavily they back fill most of those 8 plus build another 2-4 frames then you are fine.

    Long live Langstroth.

    Jean-Marc

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    3,541

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    You could extract the canola honey from the combs by scratching open the cappings and putting the full topbars under a strong langstroth hive...let the lang bees put the honey in combs that you can extract. Then, you can put the empty top bars/combs back in the TBH to fill on a fall flow, or by feeding.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,007

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Quote Originally Posted by sammyjay View Post
    Maybe you should contact Acebird about scratch and drain. He says he can get a fair amount of the honey out of the frames.
    Not if it is crystallized, you will get nothing. In the case of a top bar hive with no frame structure it might be difficult to scratch and drain unless the tool was a heated paint scraper and you took your time not to break the comb.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Canola honey granulates in a very short time so if you want to try getting the honey out by extraction or whatever method without damaging the comb it needs to be done within a week or two of the frames being capped. Keep a close eye on things.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    905

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Graham - Thank you for those articles!

    And - One idea I would consider is to make creamed honey from the fast-crystallizing honeys such as the varieties of oilseed rape. Jean-Marc figures your honey extraction would be much easier with a Langstroth hive frame, and in addition, you'd harvest a lot more honey.

    Deknow has an innovative thought - a TBH box for brood and a Langstroth to extract honey by spinning it. Using Deknow's setup and making creamed honey, you'd enjoy the best of your entire honey situation, but you still have the issue of not enough variety for the bees. I'd suggest that you plant a food patch - as many native wildflower types as you could get seeds for - near your apiary.

    Nathan - I doubt anyone gets 100 lbs using crush and strain in a TBH, even with 20 hours of sunlight on canola. That sounds more like Langstroth hive poundage with a good extractor, and getting those frames back on the hives quick. In years past, 200 lbs per hive average was exceeded, I only know of Wilmer Apiaries making big honey numbers anymore, down here U.S. side. I'm sure there are others, probably up in the Peace River Valley, exceeding 100 lbs per colony average, but I'd bet they are all using Lang' equipment. It takes 17 to 20 lbs of honey to make 1 pound of wax, so crush-and-strain just doesn't put out the high poundage that the Langstroth frames in extractors can. There are even studies that showed that the smell of fairly dry, extracted comb stimulates the bees to forage even harder at the beginning of a nectar flow.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 02-15-2013 at 03:42 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Oshawa, Ontario
    Posts
    200

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Just a thought, but what about feeding the bee jeezuz out of them as soon as you get them?
    Add a bit of food colouring to the feed so you can visually determine how much syrup they put away, maybe a bit of feeding stimulant like HBH, and once/if they put enough away, stop the feeding and let them forage.

    I don't know how this would work out...anyone care to weigh in?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    5,677

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    > It takes 17 to 20 lbs of honey to make 1 pound of wax ....

    Those numbers may be a little high. Courtesy of Michael Bush:

    From Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products, Coggshall and Morse pg 35

    "Their degree of efficiency in wax production, that is how many pounds of honey or sugar syrup are required to produce one pound of wax, is not clear. It is difficult to demonstrate this experimentally because so many variables exist. The experiment most frequently cited is that by Whitcomb (1946). He fed four colonies a thin, dark, strong honey that he called unmarketable. The only fault that might be found with the test was that the bees had free flight, which was probably necessary so they could void fecal matter; it was stated that no honey flow was in progress. The production of a pound of beeswax required a mean of 8.4 pounds of honey (range 6.66 to 8.80).

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesharvest.htm
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    218

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    It's possible to extract topbar comb in standard gear, you just need a basket or cage (Warre mentions this in his book) to hold and protect the comb while it's being spun and it should be in a radial style machine vs a tangential to keep the forces as much in the plane of the comb as possible.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    It takes 17 to 20 lbs of honey to make 1 pound of wax, so crush-and-strain just doesn't put out the high poundage that the Langstroth frames in extractors can.
    I think the numbers here are a bit reversed. A pound of wax comb can hold about 20 pounds of honey. It takes about 8 pounds of honey to make a pound of wax. So yes, you do lose production (bees making wax versus honey), but the upside is you are pulling old comb out faster. Hopefully you are pulling adverse chemicals out of the hive as you pull the comb out.

    You are right though, it is doubtful that you would get 100 pounds from a top bar, but it isn't impossible. I doubt I would ever see that in Virginia, but I hear that on a strong Sourwood flow they can really make honey quickly. I hope to see one of those heavy flows someday!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    420

    Default Re: Harvesting all the honey out've a topbar and feeding syrup? I may have a problem

    I haven't tried this but it is a possibility. You could try using a queen excluder to contain the brood nest. Similar to a single brood chamber honey production unit. You will need to manage the brood end of the hive by removing capped brood to the opposite side of the excluder from time to time. Replace them with empty bars.
    If you can saving a supply of good brood combs and replacing the removed brood combs once the brood has emerged could be helpful. I'm thinking that at the end of the season very little honey will have been stored in the brood end which is what you'll find when using a single Langstroth brood chamber. You can then feed them up with syrup to winter on.

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