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Got the chance to open up my hives today. All were healthy. I was very generous with how much honey I left on for them for winter and was surprised today to find out that two of my hives aren't even half way through their stores with at least 1 1/2 medium supers of honey untouched on each. There weren't even any bees in the full medium super of honey when I opened it up.

I know spring is a long way off, but is there anything I can do with this honey. Will it still be usable to the bees after winter if they don't need it? Could I extract it still if they don't use it?

This is only my second year of beekeeping and my first winter. Last year I had a bear come through.
 

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If it hasn't granulated and you didn't apply any medication to the hive with them on you can extract them. You can use them to feed split hives or save it till naext winter to put back on the bees. Once they start rearing brood that honey will start to disappear rapidly.
 

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In my opinion, the best thing you can do with that honey is leave it there. Late winter / early spring is when bees consume a lot of stores. The queen has been laying for a while and they need food for the colony. I've lost more hives in March / April than I have in January/ February. The bees know what to do with that honey. Leave it bee!
 

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I don't know if it is applicable to your situation, but I would go the the beesource home page and do a search on 'honey dome' as it possibly might be an issue for brood expansion & the possible subsequent problems (without touching on methodologies). I'm going to keep a close eye on mine.
 

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I agree with Ravenseye. When they start raising that early spring brood they will burn through those stores especially if it's a wet start to the spring. It will help you by not having to go back and feed like gangbusters if they would need it. I would leave until you know they have made it completelty to April or May depending on your location.
 

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You didn't leave too much on. The bees should have at least half their stores left on Feb. 1 because with brood rearing honey (and pollen) consumption is going to go way up. Also, unless you're planning to be a one-and-done beekeeper or like starting over with packages, there's almost no such thing as leaving too much honey. If your colonies have extra in the spring they will just be able to get to working earlier on surplus for you this year. The "extra" honey left on the hive isn't wasted, it's more like a savings account that will pay dividends the next year in stronger colonies and more honey. Also can be used for splits if you want to expand.
 

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Leave it. In PA your winter isn't over yet, and you don't know what the weather will bring. Consider it an investment in this year's harvest.
 

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What everybody else said. You will be amazed how fast they consume honey when brood rearing starts. Also, hives that go into spring with sufficient reserves somehow know that they can start laying like wild. You will get a much better honey crop next spring/summer off of a hive that knows it can get strong early. You did it right. Don't screw it up now.
 

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I know a beekeeper who leaves all of his honey on his hives until spring. He owns hundreds of hives. He harvests and extracts in the spring.
Do you know if he has a problem with granulation? I would be very tempted to try this, but I'd worry that in the spring any honey left would be impossible to extract. (I've got all goldenrod honey in the fall.)
 

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Overwintered honey is sometimes granulated to some degree or another. I never plan on extracting in the spring. Sometimes you can but as far as I'm concerned, honey left on the hives is for the bees....at some point or another. Granulated honey is far easier for the bees to deal with than for me to handle.
 

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View the honey on the hives as an investment in next years crop. The hives with plenty of honey in March will be the boomers in may for splits, an early crop or build up for the Basswood Flow in July.

Very likely the water content is up due to migration into the honey as well as loss of solids through even miminal crystalization. You've made a good investment into a great 2010 season.
 

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I'd let them burn it all up. Don't feed in the spring, maybe checkerboard, maybe give some of it to other hives as feed so they burn it up. Maybe don't ever do that again?

Last time I used fumidil was.... never. So I've never had that problem...

Fumidil is know to cause birth defects. I would not risk having it in my honey.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnosema.htm#avoid
 

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Denon, I'm just up the road from you. I live in Lilly (outisde Cresson) and I work in Johnstown. There's plenty of winter left - they're going to need whatever they have left.

I saw my hives making a lot of efforts to seal up holes and entrances this year - much moreso than usual. Take that as a sign or not...I am.

As another local from your area we can probably compare status - burn rates are starting to pick up now, and with those few weeks of really windy cold weather (maybe) past, brood rearing should be kicking off soon if not already going for our area, depending on your strain(s) of bee.

Best of luck, hope all is going well for you. Where-abouts in Salix are you?
 
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