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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi again, bee friends. I've had a terrific year with two newly-overwintered hives. Did extractions when they filled up the supers in May and again in early July. The second time, the supers were full but some frames were largely uncapped, so I left those as-is for them to keep working. I guess I didn't do a good job of monitoring them and underestimated the July/August dearth (we're hopefully just coming out of a nasty drought/heat wave here in New England). Checking in again this weekend, rather than continuing to fill up they'd largely eaten through those existing stores in both the supers and hive body. They do have some stores remaining, but far less than there were.

And that's okay - keeping my hives healthy is way more important than another honey harvest. I am hopefull they'll still get well-provisioned once the goldenrod and asters really get going, but can feed them some heavy syrup later if needed. In any case, my question is how do you normally manage this kind of thing? Do you feed them during the late summer dearth? I understand you generally don't want to feed while supers are on, but it also seems foolish to remove supers that are full of uncapped honey and active bees. It ALSO seems foolish to watch them stockpile all that surplus honey for me and then just eat it.

What's your strategy, with honey production ultimately in mind?
 

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I pull everything, whether it’s capped or not. I leave the frames in the supers put blocks under the stack Then I slide a drip pan under them. I put an empty super on top of the stack and a box fan pointed down with the air passing through the frames. I tested the uncapped honey and it dropped 1% moisture content every day. If the super has brood in it I will put a queen excluder under it and feed if there is a dearth. Once the brood hatches out I remover the super and let the bees rob it. I then freeze the frames and store them for the next flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I pull everything, whether it’s capped or not. I leave the frames in the supers put blocks under the stack Then I slide a drip pan under them. I put an empty super on top of the stack and a box fan pointed down with the air passing through the frames. I tested the uncapped honey and it dropped 1% moisture content every day. If the super has brood in it I will put a queen excluder under it and feed if there is a dearth. Once the brood hatches out I remover the super and let the bees rob it. I then freeze the frames and store them for the next flow.
So you basically harvest whatever's there and leave the supers off for the year once the summer dearth hits? You don't worry about a fall flow?


Also, I see you're not that far off from me. Did you experience the same kind of thing with this drought the last few weeks?
 

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No I don’t like the dark fall honey so I leave it for the bees.
Yes I start feeding as soon as I pull the supers, usually second week in July. I also add robbing screens to my weak hives. I see a dearth at this time every year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No I don’t like the dark fall honey so I leave it for the bees.
Yes I start feeding as soon as I pull the supers, usually second week in July. I also add robbing screens to my weak hives. I see a dearth at this time every year.
It's very helpful to get local information, so I really appreciate this. I DO like dark honey, so I wonder if I could pull the supers in July, feed for a month or so, then put them back on for a while in the fall. There's always more to learn and try...
 

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I pulled down to my winter config so I left their personal winter stores with them while I treat. I'd rather they have their own honey during the dearth. I have plastic totes set aside for honey not quite ready, or extracted comb. I'll feed ProSweet like a crazy person starting Labor Day weekend. I'll continue to feed into the fall with the intention of backfilling the broodnest. Not so much that it's completely plugged, but close.
 

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Bork,I have 2 yards in Windsor and basically manage as you have described.When I extract in the beginning of July,I leave frames less than 75% capped with the end goal of about 20 to 25% frames of honey left on the hive.
Because of the humidity of the CT River Valley,this usually works out,but this year with the lack of rain, I did leave more sealed honey in order to meet my goal.Most colonies are in 4 med.Splits will get frames of honey from production colonies.
I have never had to feed in the dearth (40 yrs) but last week's inspections showed much of that honey gone and I started to get nervous.
Thankfully,I'm starting to see a bit of a flow in Enfield so I think the wait is over.
I personally feel that feeding during our dearth risks contaminating the fall harvest.
If you feed with supers on (and how many beeks are going to pull partial supers and store them with the threat of hive beetles.I don't have a freezer big enough.) the sugar goes into the supers.
If you strip all the spring honey, you risk starving your bees,may be forced to feed and may still have syrup moved from the brood nest into the supers on the fall flow.
I (and many of my customers) prefer fall honey so I am willing to sacrifice some of the spring honey to get an uncontaminated fall harvest.

If I must,I will feed in Oct to bring them up to weight.
(Side note: Price of sugar at Costco up about $2 per 25# bag as of Mon compared to last year,probably due to bee feeding demand.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bork,I have 2 yards in Windsor and basically manage as you have described.When I extract in the beginning of July,I leave frames less than 75% capped with the end goal of about 20 to 25% frames of honey left on the hive.
Because of the humidity of the CT River Valley,this usually works out,but this year with the lack of rain, I did leave more sealed honey in order to meet my goal.Most colonies are in 4 med.Splits will get frames of honey from production colonies.
I have never had to feed in the dearth (40 yrs) but last week's inspections showed much of that honey gone and I started to get nervous.
Thankfully,I'm starting to see a bit of a flow in Enfield so I think the wait is over.
I personally feel that feeding during our dearth risks contaminating the fall harvest.
If you feed with supers on (and how many beeks are going to pull partial supers and store them with the threat of hive beetles.I don't have a freezer big enough.) the sugar goes into the supers.
If you strip all the spring honey, you risk starving your bees,may be forced to feed and may still have syrup moved from the brood nest into the supers on the fall flow.
I (and many of my customers) prefer fall honey so I am willing to sacrifice some of the spring honey to get an uncontaminated fall harvest.

If I must,I will feed in Oct to bring them up to weight.
(Side note: Price of sugar at Costco up about $2 per 25# bag as of Mon compared to last year,probably due to bee feeding demand.)
This is again incredibly helpful, especially to keep in mind for next season. Thanks for the local advice, neighbor.
 
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