Should I harvest?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    North Andover, MA
    Posts
    5

    Default Should I harvest?

    The supers on all 4 of my hives are capped. Should I harvest the honey and put them back on? Leave them alone for a while? Harvest the honey and leave them off? Just not sure what the beat thing to do would be.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Otsego County, NY, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    Much of that decision is where you are located, what flows you have, etc.

    In my part of NY the first pull is over and the fall flow has begun. I would be careful of leaving them un-supered if a flow is going on. They will harvest nectar and plug up the brood nest. I never want to see my supers 100% capped. It means they have run out of room and they need the extra space to dry out nectar.

    In any event I would extract and put them back on, at the very least for them to clean them up. supers off a colony this time year are a moth magnet so at least the ladies can defend and clean them. I pull summer honey before goldenrod and bamboo start blooming. Fall honey here crystalizes in a heartbeat.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    Quote Originally Posted by John_M View Post
    Much of that decision is where you are located, what flows you have, etc.

    In my part of NY the first pull is over and the fall flow has begun. I would be careful of leaving them un-supered if a flow is going on. They will harvest nectar and plug up the brood nest. I never want to see my supers 100% capped. It means they have run out of room and they need the extra space to dry out nectar.

    In any event I would extract and put them back on, at the very least for them to clean them up. supers off a colony this time year are a moth magnet so at least the ladies can defend and clean them. I pull summer honey before goldenrod and bamboo start blooming. Fall honey here crystalizes in a heartbeat.
    What do you do with a brood nest that is packed with capped honey before the fall flow?

    I tried adding a super of un-drawn foundation on top of the brood boxes, but one of the hives decided they'd rather swarm than draw out the foundation.

    The rest of the hives 2nd brood box is 90% capped honey. In response, I changed the location of the partially undrawn honey super from on top of the 2nd brood box, to in between the capped honey brood box and the brood box with brood.

    It's going to be 50F at night for the next several nights, with a high in the low 70s.

    the fall flow isn't strong right now. I didn't see any signs of swarming yet, but besides maybe 1 frame, that entire 2nd brood box had capped honey.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Otsego County, NY, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    You give the queen empty frames to lay in and the colony more room to store incoming nectar. Once the've capped it they can be stubborn about moving it so move it for them. If you must add foundation put it between frames of brood in the brood cluster. But if it's a week flow you're better off extracting and returning the empty frames to them post haste, imo.

    Cells don't have to be full to prevent the queen from laying in them. A drop of nectar and she can't lay in that cell.

    Your problem started a while ago when you didn't give them enough room to dry and store their nectar/honey. Beter to add to many supers then not enough.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Hubert, North Carolina
    Posts
    374

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    You didn't mention how many supers you had on each hive. If you only have one then there's a few things to consider. If you extract the entire super you may end up feeding more sugar water than you had expected. If you only have one honey super per hive then they may have started back filling the brood box, which poses it's own problems. You could do a partial extraction and get a little honey while also giving the queen some room to expand. It would helpful to know 1) How many brood boxes do you have, 2) How many honey supers per colony, 3) Are you using queen excluders?
    Last edited by DeepCreek; 08-23-2019 at 12:21 PM.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    North Andover, MA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    Thanks for the response. At what point would I want to add a second or third super? Once one fills up it seems that i would want to harvest the honey, so why do some people have multiple supers? Is that so that the bees can keep filling them up and then I only have to harvest the honey at the end of the season?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,128

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    welcome to beesource brian and thank you for you questions.

    its sounds like you are in your first season or two and with your first hives, so this discussion is a better fit for the beekeeping 101 subforum. just a heads up for you and the others participating i'll be moving the thread there soon.

    also, consider putting your general location in your profile so that others may more appropriately respond to your question. i am happy to do that for if you give us that info in your next post.

    is the capped honey in your supers made with nectar only or have the bees used syrup to make some of it?

    like with most things beekeeping there are more than one option available to you. the best one for you has to do with your location and what the weather/field conditions are like there, as well as what works best to accomplish your specific goals.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    North Andover, MA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    Thanks. I just updated my profile with a location. This is my 3rd year. The first year I tried a Flow Hive and got zero honey. The bees would mill around the plastic frames but didn't fill a single cell. The second year I had two hives and got a decent amount of honey, but this Spring I lost them both to mice and wax moths. So I got 4 packages this Spring and they've been doing great. All 4 hives have 2 deeps and a super. That's why I'm asking about having more than one super.

    I wasn't providing any syrup to the bees when I put the supers on, so I assume the answer is nectar?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,128

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    thanks brian, that info helps a lot. we'll leave the thread here. congrats on the success you've had this year.

    the best advice will come from experienced beekeepers relatively near your location and familiar with your flows.

    michael palmer is one of our seasoned contributors and is located a bit north of you in vermont. i if recall correctly he likes to have 2 deeps plus one super filled to a certain weight for overwintering there.

    if most folks around you are wintering well with just the two deeps then my guess is the supers are yours to harvest, assuming there is adequate honey already in the deeps.

    being late in the season i would guess that your chances of getting even more harvestable honey would be better if you extracted the capped honey and returned the supers for a refill.

    it may be more advisable to add extra supers next spring during your strongest nectar flow
    when new comb is being built but before the honey is getting capped to reduce swarming pressure.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    North Andover, MA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    Got it, but why do some people have 3 or 4 supers on their hives? Do they realize that the bees are filling up the existing supers, and rather than harvest supers all season long, they keep adding more supers so they can harvest only once at the end of the season?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,128

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    i use a single deep with medium supers here. i can end up with as many as 8 supers over that single deep, but usually it's about 5 or 6 supers.

    the bees don't usually cap one super and then go on to the next, but rather work, fill and cap several supers at the same time.

    if i were to pull one super at a time and return it to the hive, chances are crowding would occur and the bees will backfill the lower boxes and swarm.

    harvesting once at the end of the season is how a lot of people do it, perhaps so they don't have to clean up the mess more than once, or so they can apply treatments all at once when the honey is removed.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Otsego County, NY, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Should I harvest?

    In your area I would expect a decent fall crop from goldenrod, aster and bamboo. We super up to give the bees room to work. Remeber they are drying nectar down a lot to make honey, it isn't just a matter of collect nectar and fill honeycomb, there is a lot of work they do to dry it and repack it often. Only giving them one super at a time during a heavy flow can really choke them off for space. And you don't want them storing honey in the broodnest because they lack room above. On my strongest colonies in good locations, in a good year I can get 180 lbs from a colony. At 40-45 lbs in a medium depth super thats 5 almost full boxes.

    If your packages have italian queens be aware they don't tend to winter well up here. They aren't thrifty with honey stores and will often starve out by spring. It's late for me to advise requeening (although it's what I would do), so after the fall flow feed the dickens out of them. Just be careful they don't totally pack the brood chamber. They need those new bees going into winter. My preference is for carniolin or buckfast queens. Never tried russians but many like them. Carni's aren't as gentle as italians but they are a great bee for the north. Buckfast are gentle (usually) and they winter well. Both can be quite productive given proper care.

    Second on following Mike Palmer's advice, he's a very innovative and experienced beekeeper. Don't always follow his advice, but I always listen and consider it.

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