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In the past we have taken too much honey and fed back sugar water in the Fall. We plan on leaving a lot more honey this year. Several of our hives have 4 medium boxes for a brood area and 3+ full medium supers of honey (it was a pretty good Spring for us). When we over-wintered in the past, we had just 3-4 medium boxes TOTAL on the hive.

How do we go from maybe 7 boxes total on the hive now to 3 or 4 boxes in November?
Do we extract and feed back later?
When brood rearing slows down during the heat of Summer, and we still have 7 boxes, will the bees be able to patrol the big hive and keep small hive beetles in check?

Thanks,
Ray
 

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I would assume you would have plenty of honey if you left the bottom 4 alone & took the top 3 for yourself.
If this didn't work for you in the past leave the bottom 5, & only extract the top 2.

If you get you're fall goldenrod flow the bees should pack plenty into those bottom boxes.
 

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Typically we extract about now (waiting for bottles, actually, since we had a bumper crop of honey). We will put the supers back on to let the bees clean them up, then leave them one or two for whatever they make before September. Some years we get a good crop of soybean honey, some years we don't, it depends on what is planted and the weather. If we get enough, we will extract again in late summer.

Extracted supers go back on the hive above an empty box -- the bees will clean them out instead of putting more honey in them -- and we leave either two deeps or a deep and two mediums for winter. If they are not up to weight (roughly 100 lbs here) we will feed them 2:1 syrup in late September and get them up to weight by mid October.

Usually the bees will move any honey above the normal brood nest down in late fall so that the normal brood nest is pretty much filled with honey. Not usually capped, but fairly full. They will cluster there over winter. Empty supers in October get taken off and stored until mid April when they go back on.

Check for pollen stores in August too -- if they don't have quite a bit, consider feeding a protein patty in September, that way you know you have a good supply of protein for winter bees.

Peter
 

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>How do we go from maybe 7 boxes total on the hive now to 3 or 4 boxes in November?

Harvest in November.

>Do we extract and feed back later?

Feeding is always problematic between robbing, ants, drowned bees etc. Feeding honey is even more problematic as far as robbing and you have to do double work, not only extracting it, but then feeding it.

> When brood rearing slows down during the heat of Summer, and we still have 7 boxes, will the bees be able to patrol the big hive and keep small hive beetles in check?

I'm not the expert on small hive beetles, but as long as they are still strong they should be able to handle it.
 

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Michael, I want to try your late fall harvest method, a few questions. Are you not concerned with disturbing the winter cluster on cold days when you open the hive? What kind of day do you prefer for harvest, very cold, cold, warm and sunny, bees flying? Smoke needed? Do you need to warm the supers prior to extracting? I have saved a few hives to try to harvest in November as you suggested. Glenn
 

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>Are you not concerned with disturbing the winter cluster on cold days when you open the hive?

I'm not waiting for winter, just cold weather. We get some cold weather long before winter. A 40 F morning is all I need. It can hit 60 F that day...

>What kind of day do you prefer for harvest, very cold, cold, warm and sunny, bees flying?

I'm looking for 40 F or so.

>Smoke needed?

I usually light a smoker. I usually don't use it.

>Do you need to warm the supers prior to extracting?

Of course.

>I have saved a few hives to try to harvest in November as you suggested.

November might be pushing it. Some cold morning in the near future would be my preferred time. My biggest issues in November are that the honey may have crystallized already and the bees may have started moving up by then.
 

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What is a good way to feed full medium crystallized honey to colonies?

I have 12 full mediums from last year that I was going to feed to lite hives. I am not seeing lite hives.
 

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sqkcrk has some good points- remove the top two supers for extraction, and probably the bottom medium. If you can get a mirror under the bottom medium, you will probably see that there are no bees there and its just wasted space.
 

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sqkcrk has some good points- remove the top two supers for extraction, and probably the bottom medium.
In June you can probably remove the bottom box but I wouldn't in November because it could be loaded with pollen. I harvested last year in NOvember usually only taking one or two from the top. This year I took three.
 
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