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First Year Apiary Management Question - Should I harvest honey if I plan to expand?

681 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  steelhog
Hey all - general question about first year apiary management. I have 8 hives all with wide varying degrees of performance. I don't care much about the honey this year and am mostly interesting in keeping my hives as healthy as possible for the winter (US Climate zone 5) with hopes of expanding next year. So with the info listed below what do other suggest I do to ensure my hives are ready for winter and splits or expansion next year? Should I take some honey from the A hives and supplement the B and C hives? Do nothing? Harvest from the hives A and leave the rest? Hoping others can help and suggest the best course of action for my scenario and future goals.

The honey is a super low priority as also it seems many extractors are backordered and my not be available until late fall due to demand and COVID (hoping to buy one and be done) so this also factors in.

A - 4 Hives that are rocking it and may fill 2 med supers before mid aug (Started as packages) + the double deep brood boxes.
B - 2 Hive that are doing well but may not fill 1 med super (1 Started as a Nuc and 1 package) but has the double deep brood boxes filled.
C - 1 Hives that is doing ok but is only about 3/4 of the way done filling 2 deep brood box. (Started as a Nuc)
D - 1 Hive that is basically dead or almost dead. (Combination of a super week Nuc, swarm, mites and now hive beetles). Never moved beyond the 5 frames that came with the Nuc and now they are all slimed from the Beatle larva. (Started as a Nuc). This hive is isolated from the other hives in a different location.
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· Registered
1,862 Posts
I would say it depends on flows in your area. I was SE Iowa now NE Missouri and generally August is light to non existent unless you are having good ground moisture. Even so there would probably be a lull in August unless you have something like late panted soybeans that will be flowering in August, like I am just getting into now. The bees here are nuts into honey. Not all soybeans generate nectar I read.

If it was me, I would pull excess stored honey and plan to feed syrup if the flow stops to stimulate brood building. Just stored honey may not keep them building. Incoming flow generates that best. You also should have a good flow in the fall depending on your location and soil moisture. One catch with that is if you have fed them a lot already. If you did, they may mostly have sugar syrup stored and you wouldn't be pulling honey.

I wouldn't look at honey stored as much as size of brood nest and colony. If you feel one is weaker and want to equalize the hive strengths, better plan would be to move a frame of capped brood from a strong to a weak hive as needed. You can shake nurse bees off or leave them on, but don't move a queen over to another hive.

If your three good hives are double deep brood nests, you may be set well to go into fall and generate a good winter supply of honey for them.

· Registered
5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
5,844 Posts
your concerns are incomplete with honey as the primary factor.

deal with the "deadish "D" hive this week. no logical reason to leave it as you stated the bugs are ruining it
Shake it out take the combs freeze them for 2 weeks and then add 1 deep under your 2 best/favorite hives, to make them 3 deep.
Target them for splits in the spring. comb on a strong hive will last till spring much better.

Empty comb has value, find , borrow, rent an extractor, extract the 8 supers on the 4 best hives, store the comb appropriate for next years use, adding comb as the first super can really help keep the nest open and get the bees started on filling supers. And in the spring what do you plan to do with 8-10 supers of crystalized honey. this fall, you can sell the 80 quarts for funds to buy queens/ frames/boxes for splits in the spring.

And what is the mite load, what is the treatment plan? IF you plan to treat some chems require the supers off. best to have the hives mite free for the winter bee hatching time frame.
then feed up to the needed weight for winter in your locale, ask around to see what works there.

agree with Daniel pull the honey check for winter weight and feed Syrup back, equalize if necessary.

As fall approaches, there are several thing to make ready for winter, good luck, have fun with the bees.

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