Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?
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  1. #1
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    Default Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    When it was still warm earlier this fall, I placed a medium super with about 8 frames of mixed nectar and honey on top of the inner cover of a hive so that the bees would, hopefully, clean it out. I took it from a stronger hive and placed it on the weaker hive. It's been cold now for the last 10-12 days and today went to remove the super as it has warmed up. I was planning to extract what was in there (and throw it out) and wrap it up for winter. But there's still quite a bit of nectar and honey--some capped a lot uncapped. I think the bees capped it after I put the box on top of the inner cover. I'm also thinking that maybe they moved any or all they could and they are ready for the season.

    Anyway, now I'm having second thoughts, and I'm wondering if it would be best to simply put this super under the inner cover and let them have it for winter stores.

    I wanted to reduce down to two deep boxes for winter (my other hive is there). We get lows down to 10 F here, sometimes lower. So, would letting them have the super be too much room to keep warm? Is there a down side to letting them have the super?

    I'm not interested in trying to bottle it as honey. I suspect that most of it isn't ready. And I don't have a refractometer.

    Thanks for any insights.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    what you do mostly depends on the stores in the two deeps. if they are light leave the medium of stores on top under the inner cover,
    if the 2 deeps contain enough stores to get them into the spring pull it off.
    if your option is to throw it out if you pull it I'd leave it on.

    only downside I see, and a minor one at that, is if you leave it on you'll probably find the bees have moved up into it in the spring. the queen may even have started to brood up there as well. a solution to that is to put the queen below a queen excluder in the spring time when the weather warms and settles.
    you may have to check the medium a couple of times to be sure the bees didn't start any qcells after you put her underneath the queen excluder, cut them if they did or use the queen cells to make a few new queens. the brood will emerge and the medium will be used by the bees to store honey again.
    "Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:........" Alexander Pope 1709

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Thanks for the advice. You sort of hit my concern, which I hate to throw out something the bees could use.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Here is what I do to store away my uncap nectar frames. I removed the super and warp
    all the frames in syran wrap (food grade film) 2 time. Then store these wrap frames inside
    a thick cardboard box for the winter. Make sure to store this box inside a dry and stable temp environment like
    a spare room for example. And tape over the box lid so that insects cannot get inside to ruin your drawn comb.
    Next Spring unwrap them to put back for the bees to use. I'm sure they can use them
    at early brood up time before anything is available.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    ...only downside I see, and a minor one at that, is if you leave it on you'll probably find the bees have moved up into it in the spring. the queen may even have started to brood up there as well. a solution to that is to put the queen below a queen excluder in the spring time when the weather warms and settles.
    Or the super can be placed on the bottom board...called nadiring. Do a search. Very popular in the UK. The bees will move up any open nectar, and if the cappings are scratched open, they'll move up that, too. In the spring, the combs will be empty.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Yes, I considered that alternative but it sounds like the OP's bees are already into cold weather mode.
    May be too much disruption now and nothing will get moved around.
    "Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:........" Alexander Pope 1709

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Another option, if you have freezer space, extract the super and store it in containers in the freezer. This will halt yeast activity and fermentation. When the weather warms up and the bees are active and foraging you can feed it back to them at that time.
    To everything there is a season....

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Thanks for the input from everybody. The nadiring sounds interesting--I had not heard of this option before (or if I had, had not understood it in this context). If we were to get a warm enough day--in the 60s say--I could do this. It's a possibility, but doesn't seem to be something that would happen in the next week.

    Wrapping the frames also sounds good, but I'm always hearing about fermentation and mold. I suppose a tight seal might prevent that? Thus the plastic and dry space. I will investigate that.

    Extraction and storage may be a solution. How is the nectar re-introduced to the hive in the spring?

    Thanks all.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by cconnell View Post
    Extraction and storage may be a solution. How is the nectar re-introduced to the hive in the spring?
    Remove the honey in small amounts from the freezer and feed to the bees in quart jars with perforated lids. Set the jars over the inner cover hole, inside an empty box as you would with syrup. Feed it back to them in small amounts such as a quart size jar so they take it down quickly enough before fermentation can occur.
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by cconnell View Post
    ....How is the nectar re-introduced to the hive in the spring?

    Thanks all.
    During the Spring time when things are starting to bloom, they may not be interested in your nectar in a jar. When
    the hive is on an expansion mode they all went crazy focusing on a specific patch of flowers (i.e. wild mustard) both for the nectar and pollen source. In between the pre-flow they might rob the weak hive when you feed them with nectar. I'm not sure if a robber screen will stop
    the robbing. At a critical time when they started to brood up it is better to feed them patty subs and sugar bricks because you don't want
    to invite any robbing. You have to know your hive situation in order to feed them effectively. Timing is the key!
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Is it best to remove a super of nectar for the winter, or incorporate into hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by cconnell View Post
    ....Wrapping the frames also sounds good, but I'm always hearing about fermentation and mold. I suppose a tight seal might prevent that? Thus the plastic and dry space. I will investigate that....
    Thanks all.
    Inside my home fridge in the freezer section I only have 2 slots for 2 drawn comb at a time. Still, I manage to freeze 60 drawn comb this season. And take them out to put inside the thick cardboard boxes for safe storage. So far it is pretty dry
    inside the spare room where I put these boxes.

    If I don't freeze the clean out comb first after extraction and allow the small wax moths to eat through the remaining pollen in the cells then there won't be any mold issue later on. Because molds like to grow in the pollen cells in a high moisture area. The small wax moths eliminated this issue before storage. We have both specie of the wax moths here. For the small wax moths I don't worry about the damage comb because it is minimal. The bees can fix it once they're inside the hive again. The large wax moths you have to be careful because they will damage a nice drawn comb eating through the pollen and damaged the cells through out the frame beyond repair. That is why after the drawn combs are harvested and wrapped I like to freeze them in the freezer overnight some with nectar is fine too. Regarding fermented nectar I'm sure the bees will clean them up if they cannot use it. I made a mistake once by allowing the large wax moths to damage a nicely drawn comb that the bees cannot repair it anymore. Will not make that mistake again!

    The trick is to keep the drawn comb dry away from the high moisture area to avoid the molds. The pollen in the cells will dry out eventually inside a dry storage environment. It is better when you have the bees clean up the extracted frames before storage. If there is a mold situation later on I will put in the water absorbing crystals. These will turn into gels when you soak them in water to expand. Inside the comb boxes they will absorb much moisture so the comb will not get moldy. As long as things are dry inside no mold will grow!

    Eventually you will need to find a way to store your drawn comb. Might as well test out a couple of drawn comb this season to see how it will work out for you. I have pics of the large moths damaged comb and the clean out comb without pollen wrap in syran wrap outside of the cardboard box. They're in the same dry storage room with the boxed drawn comb. No wax moths on the newly drawn comb this season so far because they have never been use by the bees. Clean unused drawn comb outside the box the wax moths, large and small, have no interest in them. There is no food value to the moths. After they're drawn this summer, I took them out of the hives for spare honey frames. All brand new unused clean drawn comb safely stored away until next season!



    Clean new comb & Large wax moths damaged frame:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by beepro; 11-15-2017 at 12:45 AM.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

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