Following the Warre system, a beekeeper harvests the top boxes full of honey in the fall and leaves the bottom 2-3 for the bees to over-winter.

But my bees (a swarm caught from bee tree in mid May) have built comb in the top 4 boxes already and will soon start on the bottom (5th) box. I don't want to add a sixth box should they fill up the 5th box. What to do? If they fill up the fifth (bottom) box, would it be okay to harvest the top box in July or early August and add another 5th box below? I really don't want to have a six box hive, it just seems too tall/unstable. I also don't want to lift 5 boxes to put a sixth one underneath. I don't have a lift.

Has anyone else harvested honey from a Warre mid-summer? How did it work out? Any informed suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Judith in Denver, CO

ps: I've never actually harvested honey from a Warre. Last year and the year before my bees never got past two boxes in this drought-stricken semi-arid environment. This year there isn't a super abundance of forage but we had a really slow and late swarm season - half the number of swarms were caught state-wide as normal so I think that although there isn't super-abundant forage, there aren't too many other hives to contend with for it.