first year honey?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
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    41

    Default first year honey?

    Hey guys. I live in central minnesota. I installed 2 packages of Italians in 2 new hives with waxed Rite cell foundation on may 9th .I have been feeding liberally with pro sweet liquid feed syrup. Everything seems to be going good so far. Can anyone tell me if I can expect any honey crop this year? Or tips on how to maximise my first crop? Or is it too early to tell at this point?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Hanover, PA
    Posts
    235

    Default Re: first year honey?

    It is pretty early to tell, however, it will generally be on you to make this decision. The norm is to not take honey from them their first year, but I lean more towards the "situational dependent" mindset. If your bees are piling on the honey, then taking a frame or several frames is ok. You just have to consider their winter stores, and in your area, I would say that they should be going into winter quite heavy. You can always feed them sugar syrup to get their weight back up should you happen to harvest more than you should have. You are going to have to feed regardless going into winter. I would not expect gallons of honey this season though, and only locals would be able to tell you otherwise. Good luck!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: first year honey?

    Way too early to tell, and even if you think you have a surplus, there's the MN winter coming up in just a few months.

    I'm in northern NY and up here hives need to weigh more than 120 lbs, preferaby upwards of 140 for reliable wintering. Yes, you can feed them syrup again in the Fall. But do yoursef (and your bees) a favor and plan on leaving everything for them this year. At the last minute if you do have a surplus you can steal a bit.

    Italians have explosive growth in the very early Spring and if they haven't got enough chow next Feb.-Apr., (yes, even in MN they will start brooding up again in the late winter months before there's any chance of fresh forage) even after all the winter appears to be over, they can still starve right under your nose.

    I left all the honey my first year, and fed in the fall and winter as well, The second year I also left all the honey, but did not have to feed in the winter. I had a lot left over this Spring, which suits me just fine as I am now increasing from splits of my own hives and I have ample stores to give them. I was a new beekeeper in 2013 and I really couldn't tell if I had enough, too much or somewhere in between. Now I am better able to judge that. This year I plan to remove some honey before winter, assuming we have a good honey year.

    I have also never lost a colony, despite two very hard winters. (In fairness, it's not just leaving them a surplus of honey, though that's important too. I treat for varroa and I insulate my hives.) But all three of those factors: mite control, ample winter food and warm shelter are the three things that I will not skimp on.

    My first goal in beekeeping is to learn how to keep my bees healthy, booming and long-lived. Once I have those three things more under my command, then I will worry about how to maximise my honey crop. You get no honey from dead or languishing bees. Bees are not annuals that are "planted" every year. I think of them as perennials that if you get them well set-up during their etablshment period will yield more, for longer.

    Plus since I am just starting my third summer as a beekeeper there is so much to learn that I wanted to remove the variable of honey harvesting while I concentrated on bee-husbandry, first.

    Enj.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: first year honey?

    That's basically what I thought. I wouldn't take frames from my bottom 2 hive boddies. Just wasn't sure if they would fill they're 2 deeps it time to add supers. But I guess by the time they have filled those it would most likely be to late n the season for them to have enough time to fill a honey super for me. Even tho they are taking in a ton of syrup

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: first year honey?

    I took about 1/2 of honey from my first year, it made happy so I didn't mind not getting a lot,this is my second year and I just ordered a extractor.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    5,183

    Default Re: first year honey?

    If you have been liberally feeding pro sweet you might not really have honey. If you want to harvest some for your own use that is your choice. You can always just give them more syrup.
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    1,694

    Default Re: first year honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    If you have been liberally feeding pro sweet you might not really have honey. If you want to harvest some for your own use that is your choice. You can always just give them more syrup.
    The honey made while feeding sugar water or any other food other than honey, is not suitable for sale. If you wish you could eat it yourself, but it is not very good. I would let the bees have that honey. When the feeders are off, put the supers on. Honey flow is so short in our area that we normally can't take honey in the 1st year. Your honey flow is probably a lot longer and you should be able to remove the feeders pretty soon and harvest a little honey.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Springville, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    76

    Default Re: first year honey?

    I'm just going to be satisfied with two deeps. If there is some unknown flow in the fall which I never noticed, I will add one more deep.
    Trust me, you don't want to hear my CCD rant!
    Horrible mistake count:lots Hives lost:2 Hives alive: 2

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,176

    Default Re: first year honey?

    You COULD get honey your first year and I know of beekeepers that certainly have had good year one harvests. They also fed heavily after those harvests to get them ready for the fall and winter. I always feel that it's strange to rob and then replace but if you're vigilant about being certain that your colonies are heavy with sugar water going into the winter, then you can try and do it that way. As mentioned above, be careful that you're not harvesting some of what you're feeding now.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Olmsted County, MN USA
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: first year honey?

    From one Minnesota beek to another, your first priority this year is to have a large number of healthy bees with 75+ pounds of honey to get through winter. Since you're starting out on brand new equipment, you shouldn't count on any surplus honey for this year. They need a lot of nectar to produce comb. To quote that longtime master beekeeper: "Patience you must have, my young padawan".
    Christian (Chris) Schad
    Website: TheBeeShed.com, Facebook: The Bee Shed

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,854

    Default Re: first year honey?

    I would keep feeding until your brood boxes are occupied and all frames being worked on. If the bees get that done while there are still flowers, you may get a crop. A May 9th package and foundation does not leave a lot of time for much of a crop but be ready! You have good moisture and if the sun comes out, you might get a monster crop. One never knows. Every year and location are different. My wife just got in a car on her way to Detroit Lakes.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: first year honey?

    I'm new to this but they seem to be really active. I did an inspection about a week ago and each of my hives had about five frames fully drawn and working on the next ones out. I think I will check them again today because if they are building like they have been so far then it might be time for me to think about adding my 2nd deep. I believe I should do that when they have about 7 frames drawnor so. is it a bad thing if they are storing a lot of syrup in they're bottom deeps? Or is that as good as honey?I wouldn't want to leave them unprepared for winter.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
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    1,259

    Default Re: first year honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by dsegrest View Post
    The honey made while feeding sugar water or any other food other than honey, is not suitable for sale. If you wish you could eat it yourself, but it is not very good. I would let the bees have that honey. When the feeders are off, put the supers on. Honey flow is so short in our area that we normally can't take honey in the 1st year. Your honey flow is probably a lot longer and you should be able to remove the feeders pretty soon and harvest a little honey.
    Assume he/we feed until the brood boxes have some stores, and then put supers on top for "real" honey.

    Do the bees move honey around in the hive? Would they ever move the "sugar honey" up into the harvestable supers?
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
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    442

    Default Re: first year honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by IAmTheWaterbug View Post

    Do the bees move honey around in the hive? Would they ever move the "sugar honey" up into the harvestable supers?
    Yes, bees can and do move honey around in the hive. My hive was very low on stores in the hive bodies (2 deeps) I had a super on there because the blackberries are in bloom now. The super had 2 partial frames from last year. 1 side was capped and the other side about 1/2 full. In a week from when I inspected, they moved all of that honey down into the hive body. The super is virtually empty now.
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
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    41

    Default Re: first year honey?

    Good question. I don't want them moving the pro sweet stores up t0 my supers it I add them.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
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    1,259

    Default Re: first year honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by michkel View Post
    Yes, bees can and do move honey around in the hive. My hive was very low on stores in the hive bodies (2 deeps) I had a super on there because the blackberries are in bloom now. The super had 2 partial frames from last year. 1 side was capped and the other side about 1/2 full. In a week from when I inspected, they moved all of that honey down into the hive body. The super is virtually empty now.
    So they might move honey down into the brood box.

    But would they ever move honey _upward_ into the harvestable supers?
    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: first year honey?

    From what I know I wouldn't think they would ever have a reason to move stores further away from the broodnest. But I'm a noob and for all I know they might move the syrup stores up to make room for the more valuable honey stores in they're deeps

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Springville, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    76

    Default Re: first year honey?

    I would never knowingly harvest too much honey on a colony, thinking that simply feeding sugar water is an adequate replacement. While nectar and sugar water both contain sucrose, nectar has many other components essential to bee health. It's like surviving the winter on potato chips, for the bees. When I get established as a beekeeper, I may keep spare frames of capped honey to feed in emergencies, instead.
    Trust me, you don't want to hear my CCD rant!
    Horrible mistake count:lots Hives lost:2 Hives alive: 2

  20. #19
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Ottertail Minnesota USA
    Posts
    410

    Default Re: first year honey?

    I'm just west of you about 40 miles as the crow flies. I pulled my feeders. As of now there hitting the honeysuckle big time and when there done with the honeysuckles I have 14 acres of birds foot trefoil and clover mix for them. I think you want your two deeps weighing 120 pounds before snow time. I'm not harvesting any honey this year on my new hives.

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