Too late to arrange & harvest honey?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago
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    4

    Default Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    New beekeeper getting ready for the first winter! I am in Chicago and the weather seems to have finally turned to 40s & 50s. I've been away the last 3 weeks so I haven't had a chance to do winter prep until now. I have to take off one super of honey to consolidate them into 3 boxes for the winter (1 deep and 1 med for brood, 1 med filled with honey). Does anyone foresee problems with that?

    I plan to harvest the honey and place the empty frames above the inner cover until the bees clean them up. Given the weather and lateness in the season, just seeking warning, validation, or suggestions for this plan.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
    Posts
    4,233

    Default Re: Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    I read one time something writen by micheal bush that said he liked to wait until it was cold enough for the bees to be in cluster to take his honey supers. Then there is no need for an excape board or fume board or brushing the bees off the comb because they would be down in the cluster and not on the supers combs. If you know they have enough stores in the brood boxes that are left, it would seem an easy time to remove supers if it was 40 degrees or below. I am new and have never tried it but was sure thinking about it when my bee excape did not clear the super of bees last time I used it.
    Smarter people then me might post yet and so you might not want to take just my word for it.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    Thanks, that does seem to make some sense. I moved a few more full honey frames into the medium brood box when I inspected a month ago, so I feel good about that and the full medium super of honey I'll leave on.

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    I read one time something writen by micheal bush that said he liked to wait until it was cold enough for the bees to be in cluster to take his honey supers. Then there is no need for an excape board or fume board or brushing the bees off the comb because they would be down in the cluster and not on the supers combs. If you know they have enough stores in the brood boxes that are left, it would seem an easy time to remove supers if it was 40 degrees or below. I am new and have never tried it but was sure thinking about it when my bee excape did not clear the super of bees last time I used it.
    Smarter people then me might post yet and so you might not want to take just my word for it.
    Cheers
    gww

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Lorain County, OH USA
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    I'm taking honey off this weekend, and do so every year at this time. It's easier when cold for all the above reasons and helps prevents robbing which can get going quick when there's a dearth as there is now. The problem is getting the cold honey warm enough to extract. You'll need some way to warm the honey before extracting or you'll have a problem getting a lot of the honey out of the comb. I put my supers in a heated space at about 80 degrees for at least 24 hours (preferably longer). Stack the boxes off the floor, stagger them and use a fan to keep the air moving over the frames. If you only have one super - easy peasy.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    4,228

    Default Re: Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    You didn't mention when your last inspection was done. It is generally a good idea to take a quick look well before now to see if all is well (population, stores, varroa, etc). This is one of the things that should be part of a general winter prep. Not sure, but in your area my guess is that this should have been done in early September - perhaps earlier. Sure, you can pull honey late, but that assumes every thing else is squared away. Do you even know if they have excess honey? Just because they have 4 boxes now doesn't necessarily imply there's excess. There's too much unknown about your hive for me to give good recommendations. If you have more information, then share it, if not, then perhaps do nothing and hope for the best and deal with any excess honey in the spring.

    Not trying to be critical, just that there's much more to be said in regards to your question.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    I appreciate the opinion. I did a full check on September 27th and just went in for a quick check on October 18th, as well, when it was still in the 60s. They've packed away pollen and the population seems a bit smaller with the drones gone and the queen laying less.
    I treated with MAQS in early September, my mite count was 4 mites per 300 bees, but I treated anyway, as I was advised by most beekeepers in the groups I attend. I'm curious about your comment about honey - I've widely heard that for my region, about 60lbs of honey is what it takes to overwinter. With a full medium of honey and at least 2 honey-filled frames in each brood box, I am thinking I'm covered, maybe not? I'm happy to leave them 2 full supers of honey, my concern is more about condensing the hive down from 5 boxes to 3 than harvesting honey.

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    You didn't mention when your last inspection was done. It is generally a good idea to take a quick look well before now to see if all is well (population, stores, varroa, etc). This is one of the things that should be part of a general winter prep. Not sure, but in your area my guess is that this should have been done in early September - perhaps earlier. Sure, you can pull honey late, but that assumes every thing else is squared away. Do you even know if they have excess honey? Just because they have 4 boxes now doesn't necessarily imply there's excess. There's too much unknown about your hive for me to give good recommendations. If you have more information, then share it, if not, then perhaps do nothing and hope for the best and deal with any excess honey in the spring.

    Not trying to be critical, just that there's much more to be said in regards to your question.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    4,228

    Default Re: Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny21 View Post
    I have to take off one super of honey to consolidate them into 3 boxes for the winter (1 deep and 1 med for brood, 1 med filled with honey).
    Your first post originally said that the hive was 4 boxes total, not 5. Regardless, the point of my reply was that there was missing information for us to give solid advice. Sounds like you've done a good job in your first year. Congrats. Regarding pounds of honey for the Chicago area, I've not got a clue. I would think that 60 lbs would be a minimum (particularly for your first winter). In VA, many believe that 60 lbs is needed. Personally, I think that's overkill, but it provides a good margin for tough winters. I suggest that you double check your 60 lb number with others in your area (or post a separate thread here to get opinions of others with similar conditions). Just for reference, 60 lbs would be slightly less than 2 mediums full. I find that 1 medium yields about 35 lbs of honey.

    Good luck
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Monkton, MD
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Too late to arrange & harvest honey?

    For the years I kept bees in Chicago, I found that a full medium of honey on top did the job with honey packed in around the small brood nest. The figure I always heard was 65 pounds, but I didn't have a good weighing system, so I just went with a medium super of honey, and I ran a 2 deep brood nest. Hope that helps.

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