Harvesting first honey
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    12,001

    Default Harvesting first honey

    Should you take honey the first year? If so, how? How much? Various methods for harvesting the honey.
    Last edited by Barry; 03-04-2014 at 03:19 PM.
    Regards, Barry

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Cookeville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    All of my hives consist of double deeps. If the bees build up enough to draw comb on both deeps then I add a super (shallow or medium). I only remove, for my use, the honey frames in the supers. I do not rob (again, for my use) any honey frames from the deep boxes.

    My frames are extracted, either in a manual extractor or motorized extractor.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    12,001

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    I think it's very important that the beekeeper err on the side of being conservative with how much honey they take off their first year hives. How much winter honey the hives will store up on their own differs greatly with location. Where I'm at, I can remove the honey supers before the fall flow starts and know that they will have plenty of nectar available from their winter stores. I encourage beekeepers to only take a frame or two for their own use the first year and reserve the rest for winter use, either on the hive or as backup to add if needed.
    Regards, Barry

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    2,095

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    Barry,

    People ask your first question in many different ways. I have heard it hundreds of times. The answer is MAYBE! It depends on your location, the year, your expertise and care of the bees along with a lot of factors out of ones control. In some locations people strip all the honey and "capture" what they can. ( ie... bees in Alaska) Most people want to keep their bees alive through whatever winter they are going to encounter. The longer the winter the more weight in feed the bees will need to survive. In most locations a hive needs 30 - 80 lbs of honey to do so.

    If they encounter a winter like the one you have this year all bets are off... Dead bees from disease and lack of feed will be the norm this spring when people open up hives in the Midwest and east coast...

    As per extraction or harvesting? I'll let others answer.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    morgantown, west virgina
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    To share my own error-- don't assume the bees will fill the basement before filling the attic! I happily took honey supers and then discovered empty bottom deeps. I already know that was stupid so back off!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Kinder, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    244

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    I have no experience, but wanted to share my plan. I had one hive last year that was a late season cutout and they were slow to build up. That hive got robbed and died out over winter. This spring, I have two hives from cut outs and they are building up way fast.
    I will NOT take any honey this year. Instead, let them go through a season to see how much they consume. Then use that as a reference for the following year....of course compensating for how harsh or mild the winter may be.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Bibb County, AL
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    I am a first year beekeeper and I left all the honey the bees produced on their respective hives. I felt one hive did not have enough for the winter, didn't know it was going to be this cold in Alabama, so I made a candy board and put it on one of the hive also. Spring is here and the girls are thriving. from other post I have read I am glad that I sacrificed no Honey for myself and left it for the bees. I feel I made the right decision for a first year newbee. Looking forward to the rewards this year.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    The amount of honey your honey bees will need for winter various depending on your location and thus, the length and severity of your winter. It is a good idea to ask established local beekeepers how much winter honey stores they leave for their honey bees. I've heard that most beekeepers leave an average of 90 lbs of honey.

    Do not expect to harvest honey your first year as your new colony will need to become established, produce wax (it takes 7+ lbs honey to make 1 lbs honey bee wax), produce comb or draw out comb, and store nectar and pollen.

    Your honey harvest may vary year by year and will depend factors such as: on the strength and duration of nectar flows, the productivity of the colony, and the health of the queen.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Huntersville, NC, USA
    Posts
    258

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    When weighing the honey, do you just weigh the whole super, do a tare weight of a super with just frames and foundation( no stores)first to deduct from the super weight, or use a calculation like a filled medium frame = x?

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    2,542

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Kcnc1 View Post
    When weighing the honey, do you just weigh the whole super, do a tare weight of a super with just frames and foundation( no stores)first to deduct from the super weight, or use a calculation like a filled medium frame = x?
    I count the bottles after it's bottled. For knowing how much to leave the bees, I use all eight frame medium boxes and I do not harvest from the bottom three boxes. Period. My last harvest is All Saints' Day. The bees also keep anything above the bottom three boxes that is uncapped when I harvest or is collected by the bees after November 1. I lift the boxes occasionally and will occasionally move some capped honey to a hive that got a late start. I can extract about 20 pounds from a fairly well filled eight frame medium, but the bees are more efficient and can likely use about 25 pounds from a good box.
    David Matlock

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    New Sharon, Maine, USA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    1st year beekeeper here. I started with 10 frame Langstroth boxes. As the two deeps were drawn out and filled with brood in early summer, I added the queen excluder and a medium honey super. The bees filled the super in a little under a month. I've now added another medium super because we still have lots of goldenrod and false dandelions in the fields around here. The dilemma I'm having about harvesting honey in the 1st year is from an equipment compatibility issue. I can't add frames of the capped honey from the medium super to the deeps because of the size difference and it doesn't seem like a good idea to remove the queen excluder and leave the medium super on top of the two deeps over the winter. If anyone with experience can weigh in I would appreciate it.

    Barry, sorry if this doesn't fit the forum format, but it goes along with the topic. If there is a better place to post this question please let me know.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lassen, California, USA
    Posts
    667

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    Why do you want to add frames of the capped medium to the deeps? As you may already know, bee keeping is 'local', what works in one area may not in another. Where I live, I keep a medium on top of the two deeps, all year long. In my first year, when I put a medium on the hives, the queen started laying in them, so I just left them on. I've never, even though I'm only a fourth year, lost a hive to starvation. I always feed though in the spring. Last spring one hive had eaten all the honey in their hive, and the honey in the medium. Weather here is up and down, and the bees can be a little active in the winter. That was one of my reasons for just leaving a medium on my hives also, I figure active bees makes for hungry bees. Don't know about the queen excluder, I don't use them.
    Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Champaign, Illinois
    Posts
    2,461

    Default Re: l) Harvesting first honey

    Have found that I do way better at harvest if I can afford to leave on at least one full super above two deeps like hogback described.
    If you doubt it try one or two hives and compare. They'll be beasts in the spring which can be a good thing for increasing or making honey.

    I don't use excluders much. Have a couple I've cut in half to use on duplex hives that needed a common super or two to fill.
    Other than that I don't use them at all.
    Can't really tell with my eyes or taste the difference between honey from brooded up frames and not brooded. I'm sure there's a difference but I cant tell.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

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