Leaving honey on hives for winter
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Downingtown, PA

    Default Leaving honey on hives for winter

    For those who leave honey on hives for winter rather than feeding syrup in the fall, what does this look like, practically? I'd like to stop feeding syrup, as it's just another time expense, let alone seems more natural than syrup. Just seems much simpler than constantly adding gallons of syrup and monitoring theur intake. My time is worth more than the extra honey.

    So how do you handle your harvesting to ensure you leave enough honey for the winter? Wait to harvest all supers until Oct/Nov? Harvest all but one or two in late summer, then harvest the remainder after hives get to proper weight? Harvest everything and hope for a good fall flow? Do you keep a super on the hive over the winter or will they move that honey down into the deeps?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Lebanon Pa

    Default Re: Leaving honey on hives for winter

    I hope try to pull supers about now let them catch the end ulof early flow to hold them over till fall flow if the fall flow is a bust u have to feed where Im at I leave them with no supers just the double deep if they need more room and are really strong I give them another deep to work on after I pull supers
    Friend tells me take time to stop and smell the roses I say "I do then I take 10 steps quicker to make up for lost time"

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA

    Default Re: Leaving honey on hives for winter

    Quote Originally Posted by empire View Post
    For those who leave honey on hives for winter rather than feeding syrup in the fall, what does this look like, practically?
    I use all eight frame mediums. I only harvest above the third box or, in some cases, the fourth box. That is the "winter survival line" or "harvest line". The line varies a little from hive to hive depending on the number of bees and, indirectly, the breed of bees. Anything above that harvest line that is not capped stays on the hive or is redistributed to another hive as needed. After extracting, I return boxes of empty drawn comb for the bees to clean up, rearrange, and use as needed. The bees keep anything that comes in after the fall harvest in October.

    I lift the back of the hives to check hive weights, particularly in the late winter and early spring when the bees are using up stores by flying, but are bringing in little nectar. Every year is different, and I'm willing to feed if needed. But I try to leave a little more than I think that the bees will need. If it is left over, that means that there will be more to harvest in the spring.
    David Matlock

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Sandpoint, ID, USA

    Default Re: Leaving honey on hives for winter

    I've never done it this way, but If it were me, imo, leave all the honey on and before you come into the next seasons flow, extract. Then you know they can make it from one season to the next.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    jackson county, alabama, usa

    Default Re: Leaving honey on hives for winter

    i think this is one those aspects of beekeeping that rises to near the top of the list of 'it depends'.

    obviously the length and depth of the winter in your location is going to be the biggest determining factor, but also it depends a lot on the strain of bee you have.

    for the past few years i've been weighing my hives shortly after the first couple of frosts which is typically about late october. i then weigh them about once a month or so until our early nectar flows start trickling in usually about late february.

    i was blown away when i found out how very few pounds of honey were getting consumed over the winter. it turns out the strain of bee i'm working with tends to get down to a pretty small winter cluster (2 to 3 deep frames of bees) and is very frugal with their stores.

    most of the honey that gets left for them in the fall doesn't get used until they start their spring brood up. i've found that leaving them about 50 lbs. of honey is about right for them to use most of that up before they start storing and processing the current spring's nectar.

    but it can really be different from one year to the next. a few seasons back we had an unusually warm january and february followed by a cold and wet march. they started brooding early and the populations built up only to be shut in for a month. they consumed almost all of the honey and it was to the point i thought i was going to have to provide syrup, but then the weather broke and all was well.

    this year we had an unusually warm december. there was actually nectar available from some unknown source and most hives suprisingly gained several lbs! this resulted in a lot of last year's honey not getting used for the spring build up and swarm prevention was a little trickier.

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