Do you need to harvest the honey?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    chicago, IL, usa
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    Smile Do you need to harvest the honey?

    Hi, I'm just wondering what are the benefits to harvesting honey other than to sell/eat it? I'm just a curious newb and can't ever seem to get a straight answer on this so I'm curious what the pros have to say about it.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    The primary "benefit" is emptying frames via extraction for the bees to fill up again. Saves on needing to buy equipment. The advantage to NOT harvesting is that the bees will have all the food they gathered to get through winter on. You get to supplement if they haven't created surplus and in fact need more stores.

    I use 2 deeps (and several three deeps) for my brood chambers and I never harvest honey from the brood nest. I take all supers off for winter and plan that the bees will store enough for themselves in the brood chamber. Being a hopefully intelligent sort, I also plan to put them on a scale to see if they have gathered enough. I will feed if they are below my target winter weight. The last thing I want to do as a hobbyist is to harvest honey only to feed later on.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    10,332

    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    welcome aboard! i'm not a pro but one benefit that i can think of has to do with swarm prevention for the next spring. if a colony has lots of honey at the top of the hive in the spring the bees will work part of the way up through it and then swarm. if a colony swarms it looses the potential to provide harvestable honey, plus in an urban or suburban setting swarms can become a nuisance to one's neighbors if they make their new home in a building. having empty drawn comb is useful for certain swarm prevention techniques and also comes in handy if one is making up splits or nucs.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    I think about winter. The more space there is in the hive, the more there is to heat.
    Pete. New 2013, 12 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    Yeah, but that honey will hold a lot of heat during the night as well.....

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Derry, New Hampshire
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    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Yeah, but that honey will hold a lot of heat during the night as well.....
    interesting quandary. capped honey as a heat sink. wonder if it takes more resources to heat up then it benefits regulating hive temps

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    4,646

    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    >Do you need to harvest the honey?
    No.

    No one harvesting wild hives and they've been do just fine for 100 million years.

    More bees starve in the spring because of beek error.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Knox, Pa. USA
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    5,400

    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chemguy View Post
    I think about winter. The more space there is in the hive, the more there is to heat.
    Bees do not heat the hive, They heat the cluster. A winter cluster of bees is constantly moving Inner bees generate heat, outer bees act as insulation, they change places continually. so from that stand point hive size is irrelevant.

    Weather you take honey or leave it is up to you. People keep bees for different reasons, If the honey does not matter to you, then leave it for the bees. It is wise to ensure the stores are of sufficient quantity and arranged in a location so the bees can access them without breaking cluster.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
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    641

    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    Bees do not heat the hive, They heat the cluster.
    Right you are. I knew that, but hadn't fully linked that to my intentions for winter management.
    Pete. New 2013, 12 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
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    591

    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    what are the benefits to harvesting honey other than to sell/eat it?

    reply:

    Depends on the point of view. From the bees pov there is no benefit to taking there honey. From the beekeepers pov profit and food ARE some of the main reasons to harvest honey especially when its not a hobby. If you left an extra 100 pounds on them that they didn't consume you'd have to lift that box off every time you inspected. Mutiply this time 10, 50, 100+ hives is you back broke yet? Plus reasons mentioned above by others.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    5,486

    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    I take the lazy approach... Can I pull the last batch of honey.... nope, seems like work to me, and then possibly having to feed them back some stores if the fall flow is non-existent like usual... well that's even more work... so I see it as a win-win just leaving it on there.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    chicago, IL, usa
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    2

    Default Re: Do you need to harvest the honey?

    Thanks for the info all! Someone told me it encourages more honey production but I figured they never stop really. & I did hear about the swarming. I have no idea really so this was helpful.

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