Spring Harvest Questions
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  1. #1
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    Default Spring Harvest Questions

    Hi,

    Spring Harvest, 2nd spring questions and comments:

    1) See the pics, please. A few areas of mold and entombed bees on the honey bars. I simply cut those areas off and harvested. The honey was otherwise perfectly fine. Is this typical to find after winter?

    2) Bottom board under honey bars had a good amount of dead, fermenting bees (pic in the plastic container). I scraped as much out as I could. I assume this is from nectar they weren't fast enough to cap or dry out last fall and is (or is not?) normal? I do recall some times early this spring seeing liquid seeping out from the bottom of the hive, which was too thin to be honey.

    3) Tons of dead bees in the brood area on the bottom board, seemingly mainly dry, or at least not fermenting. I did not remove these. I assume (?) that as the bees build up strength they'll dedicate more time to cleaning these up? Should I have helped them out?

    4) I had about 10-12 bars of honey going into winter. It really seemed in my inspection today that they barely ate through any of this...I took two bars today, leaving a good full 8 with honey. Seems less than I would have thought.

    5) They otherwise look good. More are flying and the brood combs seem more populated than a couple weeks ago.

    Mold.jpgmold2.jpgfermented bees.jpgcrushing.jpgharvest.jpg

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    I can't say that I have ever seen entombed bees in honey comb before or a bunch of dead bees underneath. Almost sounds like one of the honey bars froze and expanded so the cells busted and the bees got trapped trying to clean it up during the winter.

    And if you are at the start of your main spring flow, you will probably need more room in that hive, so you can harvest a lot more of those honey bars from last fall.

    Looks Yummy!

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    That is a very good theory. And I do look forward to harvesting a few more this week.

    On the overall amount of dead (dry...) bees on the bottom, when I do go into harvest next time if they are still there, any reason I shouldn't lend them a hand and clean some out?

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    .. Almost sounds like one of the honey bars froze and expanded so the cells busted ....
    Well, capped honey cells do not expand and don't get busted when frozen.
    Water content of the honey being about only 18-19%.
    Sugars are acting as anti-freezing agent and honey can take a LOT of low temp before forming any ice internally and expanding much.

    If in doubt, read all the advice about freezing the honey frames for later use (right on this forum).

    However, if cells contain uncapped honey, that will absorb excess moisture and then cells will overfill and the contents will spill over.
    Uncapped honey will also ferment if too much moisture absorbed. All that mess could drip down.
    Bees could try to collect the spilled stuff and went too cold when doing it and just collapsed into the spilled honey.
    Something of sorts probably did happen.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    Greg, what about your thoughts on this liquid being caused by my point #2?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    Just a theory, of course.

    Conceivably, unripe honey then went into the winter uncapped (bees ran out of time?) absorbed too much moisture and fermented.
    Given enough moisture to absorb it not only ferment but also spill out then (could virtually bubble out).
    Then you get the picture you see.

    Honey will readily absorb moisture (one reason to keep honey in tight containers - it will absorb moisture if possible).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    This will really depend on your particular case.
    Sounds as if you may have had too much moisture?

    In my case, I observe lots of uncapped honey that just turned into sugar cakes (my hives are really that dry).
    Literally today, while inspecting, I sprayed water into those last year combs with sugar crystals in them so that bees can actually still use it (not toss it as trash).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    Thanks. I don't know enough to answer the moisture question. I had an R-13 fiberglass under the roof but nothing else. The wet area was definitely only under the honey bars, not the brood.

    Do you clean out dead bees after winter, or let them take care of it?

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    I do sweep dead bees up and toss out when presented a chance in spring.
    But I only do it as a side-project when checking in spring.
    More important thing is to assess the food situation.

    Anyway, april bees are already having they hands full as-is.
    They are soon to expire after the long life of 6 month and trying to raise replacement as soon as they just can.
    Any help is welcome, like taking the dead out.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    Greg, I went back in the hive today an pulled four more honey bars. Definitely noticed the bottom of a couple of them with bubbling uncapped nectar, so you were right about that. Cleaned up a bunch of dead bees. They otherwise look like they are building up their numbers.

    I still find it strange/amazing that I entered winter with 10 full bars of honey. I have pulled 6 this spring, and left 4 full bars of honey. It is like they did not eat anything?!?

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Corto View Post
    Greg, I went back in the hive today an pulled four more honey bars. Definitely noticed the bottom of a couple of them with bubbling uncapped nectar, so you were right about that. Cleaned up a bunch of dead bees. They otherwise look like they are building up their numbers.

    I still find it strange/amazing that I entered winter with 10 full bars of honey. I have pulled 6 this spring, and left 4 full bars of honey. It is like they did not eat anything?!?
    Pretty normal, actually.
    Per what I observe, bees burning through the stores may have to do with sub-optimal hive setups (poor energy efficiency).
    Do you care to share how you setup the hive(s) for winter? How the hives built?

    In a good hive (whatever hive it maybe) they eat very little honey until they start raising brood again.
    I have tons of honey on hand now, harvested plenty, bees have tons of honey too.
    I almost have too much honey in hives, need to pull some away maybe.
    Need to freeze some honey frames I guess for later use.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Pretty normal, actually.

    Do you care to share how you setup the hive(s) for winter? How the hives built?
    It is a Beethinking TBH, painted pine, nothing special. In the winter all I added was a batt of fiberglass under the roof.

    At this point, until I get burned by mites or something, I have been completely treatment free, and did minimal inspections last year. Other than the first install seeing the queen, I have never gone back into the brood nest. I have no idea if minimal disruptions and treatment free help, but I am SURE there are people on both side of this issue!

    I wonder if bees can get drunk? Quite a strong sweet alcohol smell this last time, literally like mead. But again, the capped honey was good, I just cut out the bubbly sections before I crushed the rest.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    So, it is interesting about low honey consumption.
    I observe exactly the same - very low honey consumption.
    I donno what is up with those recommendations to leave 60-80 lbs of honey per hive - I suspect the standard Lang hives are fault for that (being energy inefficient).
    As it is now, I am more worried about my colonies being honey-bound with all the old honey still there.

    I would avoid letting bees get too drunk - can not be good IF in large concentrations.
    If a hive very strong - less important (every bee gets fewer drinks then).

    Though, alcohol is totally natural and bees (and most any bugs) drink alcohol all the time and seem to like it.
    Last year they went crazy around my over-ripen, spoiled peaches.
    They were all over them peaches in the compost pile.
    So, the concentration is probably the most significant factor (just as with people).

    Be careful around that "treatment-free" - saying this because I am myself chem-free.
    My loss for the winter - 85% being totally hands-off.
    A bit too much and hard to recover - a good thing I sent into the winter many hives.
    50% or better survival was my ideal target and still is to work towards.
    This year I mean to try to apply the brood breaks per Mel Disselkoen methods and just try to expand as much as possible.
    Ok, this went off topic at bit.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Spring Harvest Questions

    For me with one hive survival was going to be 100% or 0%, nothing in between, so I am happy about that. I possibly have space for another, but honestly after harvesting 6 bars, I have given 24 small jars away and have enough left over to last my family 5+ years, unless we start incorporating honey into our cooking! I'm not in it for the honey, more for the bees, so even if I am able to get a second hive going, not sure I'd want to go through the labor of managing a 2nd, and doing all the honey related work.

    I am pretty confident given what I hear that next year will again be a tossup on survival.

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