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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Dodge County, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    9

    Default Downsizing hives after harvest

    I've been beekeeping in Wisconsin for a couple of years, and one question I have always had is what the best way is to reduce the hive to the desired two large brood boxes for winter. Right before honey harvest time in August or September, my strong hive might have 4-5 shallow supers above the two brood boxes, and all the boxes have lots of bees. When I take the supers off to extract the honey, I replace at most one empty shallow, just for space, as typically the honey flow is over and they won't be filling it. There is plenty of honey in the two deeps for winter. When I pull off all those supers the bees are forced to crowd into the remaining space. I took a look today, hoping to remove the last shallow and squeeze down to just the two deeps, but the hive is amazingly packed with bees. Is this a bad thing--should I leave empty super(s) on just for the bees to hang out on? Or is it okay to crowd any number of bees into two deeps, and if there are too many bees the surplus will just leave on their own? I assume having some leave would be better anyway, so as not to consume the honey so fast.
    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    361

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    Wait until they cluster and then remove or remove.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Dodge County, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by JClark View Post
    Wait until they cluster and then remove or remove.
    Thanks for the reply! So you're saying leave the extra boxes on until the bees reduce population on their own and end up in a cluster in one of the brood boxes? Presumably at which time the extra boxes will be empty of bees anyway?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    Read up on the Tim Ives and Rose methods. They leave much more honey on the hives than you are planning and carry as many bees through winter as they can. They have super hives going into the spring flow and produce huge honey crops.

    Oldtimer has a thread on BeeSource now about the Tim Ives method that you may enjoy.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    I would just take the supers off for harvest and not put them back. They will fit in the 2 deep boxes. Without the supers on the bees will have more time to re-size to cluster for the available space.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    361

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kuhn View Post
    Thanks for the reply! So you're saying leave the extra boxes on until the bees reduce population on their own and end up in a cluster in one of the brood boxes? Presumably at which time the extra boxes will be empty of bees anyway?
    Yep. I think it might be too late there for the bees to re-organize their cluster space so make sure they have capped honey in the top box. Don't have to remove frames or anything (I wouldn't at this stage) but shine a flashlight down between the frames when you remove the box. If the cluster is in that top deep then leave the honey on as insurance. May be needed--especially where you are.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,271

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    John, another option is to put an empty shell, medium or deep, below the double deep hive after removing the shallow. When I say empty I mean without frames. It can be left there all winter and removed in spring when you clean the bottom board before the first flow.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    John, another option is to put an empty shell, medium or deep, below the double deep hive after removing the shallow. When I say empty I mean without frames. It can be left there all winter and removed in spring when you clean the bottom board before the first flow.
    What is the function of the empty box?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    It just gives the excess bees room to hang under the brood nest which is what they like to do anyway.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    996

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    George Imrie (read his "pink pages" if you get a chance) always said to expand them in the spring and crowd them in the fall.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Battle Ground , Washington, USA
    Posts
    765

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    I shake the bees out of the supers into nucs and add a queencell.
    I'm not tense, Just terribly, terribly alert!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Spanish Fork, UT, USA
    Posts
    388

    Default Re: Downsizing hives after harvest

    I recommend not removing all the honey supers in one day. I remove any full honey supers at the end of July or Early August and the remaining boxes at the end of the summer. I wouldn't worry too much about crowding the bees in the fall. It's amazing how many bees can cluster in two deeps.

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