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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have a package hive that grew and grew and grew.
It's fall, and I've harvested twice, but I cannot keep these ladies to contain themselves.
In the last harvest, I reduced them once again by a box, giving them a clean-up box on top.
However, they show no signs of stopping.
How many boxes should this giant hive be by winter?
How do I get them to condense resources, other by harvesting full combs and then restoring wet combs above the cover board?
I would very much like to have hives live over the winter....last winter in Iowa had polar vortex and almost nobody survived.
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How many frames of capped honey do you have? I think that is a better measurement than the number of of boxes for a hive going into winter. I would try to get the hive down to 20 or 30 frames of honey and harvest everything else. The hive will probably start shrinking when it gets cold.
 

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ditto on what elmer said. You need to keep checking your bottom brood box to make SURE they don't get honey/nectar bound. You want laying space for winter bees and if they have a good nectar source you may harvest a third time.
 

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Sounds like you have a very prolific queen with good honey gathering genetics....that's a good thing. I don't know what strain you are running but as a rule Carniolan strains of bees usually shut down brood as soon as the main nectar flow which here is with Golden Rod the 1st week of October or sometimes an early first frost. Italians on the other hand tend to lay a few extra weeks, often laying into November. One important thing this time of year is to only have enough harvest supers that the bees will fill so you don't end up with several honey supers half full or less. If you are running double deeps and 5 honey supers on top this time of year you may be robbing the brood chamber of important stores needed for overwintering. Our goal here in our operation is to have our final harvest completed by Sept. 25. This gives the bees a couple of weeks to stock brood chambers and us a chance to chase that with a gallon of 2:1 feed to fill those brood cells as they get emptied after the flow is done so the bees eat that and reserve the better food- honey - for the long winter ahead. The weather will turn soon and working hours will be reduced, bloom fading and cool days make honey harvest a bit more difficult. I would suggest you combine your harvest supers down and let the bees get those brood chambers filled. Of course you can always leave supers of honey on for winter as long as you aren't using queen excluders or you remove the queen excluder before the first cold nights. Your goal at this point should be a well stocked, well organized hive body or bodies so I would start there and manage the rest accordingly. The nectar season is about to come to a screeching halt. Good Luck and let us know how you make out!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies. She's Carniolan, but just package with 3# bees.

Went in again since you responded (and THANK YOU!!!)...she's laying into the bottom two brood (deep) boxes, and then into the next two (medium) boxes, which are meant for honey. Honey in those is still wet.

I'm still stuck with one medium box of wet stuff on top of that, moving the least wet stuff into the space above the top board with additional addition of heavy syrup laced with a few drops of spearmint oil in the feeder.

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My other hive, doing not as well, had COMPLETELY abandoned their bottom deep brood box, so I switched the boxes, putting the box with eggs on the bottom and the deep (empty) box on top, hoping that the bees will move honey and nectar and everything else into those spaces. I placed more of the "clean up" extracted combs above them with heavy syrup laced with spearmint oil.

I'm just confused.
 

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Thanks for the replies. She's Carniolan, but just package with 3# bees.

Went in again since you responded (and THANK YOU!!!)...she's laying into the bottom two brood (deep) boxes, and then into the next two (medium) boxes, which are meant for honey. Honey in those is still wet.

I'm still stuck with one medium box of wet stuff on top of that, moving the least wet stuff into the space above the top board with additional addition of heavy syrup laced with a few drops of spearmint oil in the feeder.

______

My other hive, doing not as well, had COMPLETELY abandoned their bottom deep brood box, so I switched the boxes, putting the box with eggs on the bottom and the deep (empty) box on top, hoping that the bees will move honey and nectar and everything else into those spaces. I placed more of the "clean up" extracted combs above them with heavy syrup laced with spearmint oil.

I'm just confused.
I may be as well. Please confirm you are removing, supers, extracting, adding them back. And also have a feeder on the hive with Spearmint oil. So the one thing I want to ask is what is the spearmint oil for?
thanks
GG
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I may be as well. Please confirm you are removing, supers, extracting, adding them back. And also have a feeder on the hive with Spearmint oil. So the one thing I want to ask is what is the spearmint oil for?
thanks
GG
I have indeed removed, extracted, and then returned wet supers on top. [I thought spearmint was helpful in having them take the sugar syrup from the kitchen. That is an aside issue for now.]

My puzzle is with the giganto hive (primary issue) is that my bees don't seem to be condensing resources, preferring to add more wet nectar, rather than capping things off. The surprise was that the queen has been laying into the two medium supers (for honey) on top of the laying in the two bottom (deep) boxes meant for brood.

In the big hive, I have two deeps with developing brood, LOTS of capped brood, and honey and pollen. In the two (medium) boxes above, which I thought were supers, I have brood, eggs, and wet honey.

The original problem was how to get them to condense (top off with wax) the wet stuff for winter and move into a slightly smaller apartment so that they can keep warm in a brutal environment.

I hope I cleared up confusion.
 

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The queen will always go up unless confined to the brood nest by the use of a queen excluder. Put her down and add the excluder to keep her down. When your Fall flow ends, and you remove surplus honey supers and start to feed for winter stores, then remove the excluder.

In the Fall honey bees will often not cap nectar even if it is of the proper moisture content.
 

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I would pull off totally empty boxes. Leave them a little space as there are still things blooming and they may need somwhere to put them, but if the box is totally empty, I would remove it. if it's half full, maybe I'd leave it for now. I would be careful not to get them so crowded they swarm, but somewhat crowded is a good thing especially coming into winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The queen will always go up unless confined to the brood nest by the use of a queen excluder. Put her down and add the excluder to keep her down. When your Fall flow ends, and you remove surplus honey supers and start to feed for winter stores, then remove the excluder.

In the Fall honey bees will often not cap nectar even if it is of the proper moisture content.
OK. My mentor really discouraged the use of queen excluders. I'll check in a bit, but mine (normally pretty docile) are getting more aggressive as I feed them the syrup. I fed today and got stung twice within the time it took to pour syrup into the top feeder, with smoke and bee brushing.

I suppose they can still use the nectar that has not the moisture content of proper honey.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Just a follow up to the ever-patient people:

Michael Bush
AR Beekeeper
username00101
Gray Goose
Joel
dudelt
Murdock
elmer_fud

I have no idea how to send you a call-out instead of a personal message but thank-you.
On good days (we've had few, recently, due to ongoing rainy weather after dry weather) my bees are condensing/dying off. So, today, I went in and just went through the top two supers, removed all that were dry, and moved everything wet or onto the way of capped honey down. And then fed massive amounts of syrup on top. I did not dig down deeper in order not to disturb them, but I will have to do so at least one more time.

I hope that is okay. That hive probably produced 75 pounds of honey and I left a lot there as it was only partially capped. That was a brand new 3 pound package. Much better than any of my previous packages, most have which have been perfect duds.
 

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For both hives, remove all boxes except the bottom 2. Just jam the bees down, they will find a way to fit. If the bigger hive has brood in different sized frames you may have to leave a third box of that on. That's where a queen excluder comes in handy, you can block the queen out of the odd sized box, get that brood hatched then remove the box.

In a couple of weeks when they have settled into their new sized hives, you can put an empty super on, then above that put boxes with honey, they should remove the honey and store it downstairs.

Do not let the big bee population fool you, they will need to be treated for varroa or you will likely lose them in winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I am treating for varroa. I just gotta keep pushing them down, I guess. ****.

But what do I do with the supers with partially capped honey/nectar? Still a lotta that. I can't harvest it for honey for people anymore as it will rot and medications are on....

For both hives, remove all boxes except the bottom 2. Just jam the bees down, they will find a way to fit. If the bigger hive has brood in different sized frames you may have to leave a third box of that on. That's where a queen excluder comes in handy, you can block the queen out of the odd sized box, get that brood hatched then remove the box.

In a couple of weeks when they have settled into their new sized hives, you can put an empty super on, then above that put boxes with honey, they should remove the honey and store it downstairs.

Do not let the big bee population fool you, they will need to be treated for varroa or you will likely lose them in winter.
 

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In a couple of weeks when they have settled into their new sized hives, you can put an empty super on, then above that put boxes with honey, they should remove the honey and store it downstairs.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Okay, so the COMPLETELY empty super (no frames, no nothing) goes on top of the top board, with remaining wet stuff in a super above that? Just attempting to clarify. No challenge.

I didn't expect package bees take off like this.

In a couple of weeks when they have settled into their new sized hives, you can put an empty super on, then above that put boxes with honey, they should remove the honey and store it downstairs.
 

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I had a monster hive like this one and put them to work building a box of deep frames of honey for emergencies. That very heavy box was removed a few months ago and stored. They had medium boxes put on top that they filled out for their winter that remained on their hive and the stored frames have already been put to use filling out smaller colonies (swarm nuc) and set aside for emergency winter feed. The only reason I'm mentioning this is- it helps to have a stored pantry set aside to move back in if needed. I have a bee closet in my house where I have large plastic totes and drawn comb and food reserves. The best emergency is the one you never have. But if I have one I'm glad I'm prepared.
 

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Hi Fern. I always winter with the equivalent of 2 deeps and one medium, sometimes 2. It may not be the “right” way but works for some of the bigger hives. I will pull supers/frames and if filled with honey/nectar I will put them in a freezer (if nectar I will shake it out of the frames). Putting wet supers over the inner cover works well for some hives but some start storing up there too. Those frames go in the freezer. It’s been a very prolific honey season this year, sounds like by you too, so I’m thinking it might be a hard winter this year. You can use these frames during the winter and late winter/early Spring if needed. I wrap and use foam insulation, not sure what you do, and a candy shim/upper entrance, they move around a little more and eat more, depending on the dominant race of the bee, as stated above. My bees overwinter well this way as long as the mites are taken care of. If there is a warm day in late November another round of OxVap is done. Good luck! Deb
 
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