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Discussion Starter #1
may be too early for this discussion, but wondering if anyone is thinking about dates for taking some honey.

my thinking is this...that last fall I fed my hive heavy and they put the stores where they wanted them and they came through the winter (which was a hard one here in western north carolina). If I leave the stores at the back of the hive, are they likely to be able to get to them? Will they move those stores around for a winter configuration on their own? Do I take that honey, try to invent some kind of sling device (thus keeping the comb) and give the empty comb back to the bees and let them put summer/fall flow into the empty comb? Then do I feed back the honey in the fall, let them put it where they can get to it and maybe keep back some honey they don't need?

when I kept bees in the boxes, the short super went on top of the brood box and that put the honey in a similar configuration as having a top bar with capped honey at the top of the bar and brood in the bottom. Now I have capped honey at the end of the hive and some capped in each brood frame. Will my queen extend that honey and shorten the brood amount as winter approaches?

Do they even need my help pushing honey stores around?
 

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They will move into the stores as they need to. As long as all of the stores are in the brood nest or at then end of the brood nest you should be fine. You don't want stores on both sides of the brood nest, they may have problems moving to the stores if it is split.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So I just need to remove any stores in front-(if there are any)? I assume like last year I would just put a couple or one empty drawn bar in front and put the most full to least full in contact with the brood (unless they already have it arranged that way).

This thinking all started when I read somewhere about emptying frames getting them ready for the sourwood flow.

I'm also thinking does it make sense to manage the stores area? Like give them empty bars closer to the brood area so they don't have to travel so far to store what they are bringing in?

Does anyone see an increase per each bar of capped honey to less brood?

Thanks for feedback
 

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I'm assuming there is no honey at the front of the hive, unless you have a center entrance. Most of my hives have side entrances towards one end, but I had one with an entrance at the end. The end entrance bees used the first bar for pollen, and on all but the coldest days you could see bees at the entrance. My other hives have that one bar of honey and I let it be, but if they were light in February and I had a warm day I would move it to the edge of the brood nest. The spring is when you may end up moving stuff around though. If they worked their way back you would either pull comb for storage or move it to the back, depending on how the hive is performing.

If you are adding bars I would add them to the brood nest, but I wouldn't add more then one at a time, unless it is a strong hive. You could add bars to the middle of the stores, but I wouldn't. If the bees need to draw comb in the stores they can go to the end. The only advantage would be that the bar's comb would match the the comb on both sides, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The one thing I have seen this time of year is half drawn bars of comb, which is annoying. They draw it out half way and fill it and don't complete it.

The foragers don't walk back to the back of the hive, they pass it to the other bees to process and store it.

My experience has been that the first year they seem to spread the brood nest out, and the next year they seem to tighten up the brood nest. I would think it has more to do with the comb than anything else. The first year a hive is putting a lot of resources into drawing out all the comb, whereas next year the queen will have plenty of comb to lay in when the spring hits, and you see more wall to wall bars, versus the first year bars that have a thicker honey band.

I hope that makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
let me see if I've got this.

I have an end entrance. The girls have drawn out nearly all bars front to back this year.

the rear comb is being capped. (I hope they have room to store later flows.)

this fall if all is going well I just get them into the same configuration as last fall except where there would be syrup, I'll have capped honey. They will work toward that during the winter. I will end up having a brood area that migrates to the back somewhat and the left behind comb I will use to open the brood nest after I move everything back to the front as spring gets in full swing.

the used honey stores comb I can just leave or use as the brood/store areas need it.

I'll tighten everything up as I can in other words as soon as I can weather permitting.

so still my question is..when do you harvest? I could see leaving it all til the first spring flow and then taking it then, hopefully by slinging it and reusing the comb for the spring flow. or I could see weighing the hive to make sure I've got enough going into the winter and taking it based on that.

thanks for all the advice.
 

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If you are unsure whether they will/do have enough stores then leave it all in and harvest in spring once they have used what they needed for winter. If this is their first year then that may be the sensible option. In my type of TBH I know the bees require 8-10 bars worth of stores going into winter. Which can obviously be made up of stores on brood bars too. Some bees do need more than others though. Italian's are notorious for rearing brood late in the year which both continues to take up brood comb which could have extra stores and increases stores required to get through winter.
best of luck
 

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With a TBH most people just harvest as they see fit since you crush and strain or use it as cut comb honey. It isn't like a lang were you are pulling boxes off of them. That would be more dependent on the flows in your area. It also depends on how much honey the bees store in the brood nest. Most people with TBH's leave more in the hive than in Langs since it is hard to feed them. But if you have a decent amount of stores go ahead and rob some.
 

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If you have full bars of capped honey at the end of the give, take one. I'm running 4 TBH hives and at this time of year I walk away with a honey bar every inspection. It's a combination of hobbyist, laziness and overly small hives.

I've got 2 Golden Mean sized hives. They are 3' which is otherwise known as too darn small. I can only 2-3 bars at the back which are pure honey. The rest all have brood. If I don't harvest often they get honey bound and swarm. Sometimes the honey isn't ripe/capped and they swarm anyway if I don't make a split with them. The other 2 hives are 4' instead of 3 and they do well. Good strong hives which would let me give me a good 6 bars of honey, several of which are on pristine white wax.

Laziness. Crush and straining a dozen combs at a time is a lot of work. I need to pull out the 5 gallon buckets, by the time I've done I've made a mess and so on. When I have one bar, it's pretty fast and easy. I have a couple old 4 lb potato salad buckets which hold about 3/4th a gallon. I took one and cut a hole in the bottom and fitted in an old fine mesh tea strainer and the other I cut a hole in the lid. Cutting up the one bar is fast and I leave the setup in my sun room for a day or 2 and wind up with over a half gallon of honey. It's small, it's fast and it takes me less than 15min including cleanup.

I get 4 12oz sized mason jars of honey (which are filled close to the rim). I date them and mark which hive they came from and I get different flavors and colors through the year. Right now I'm getting a pale yellow which I'm guessing is mainly from the white clover which is in full bloom.

As an inexperienced hobbyist I like the excuse to check my hives. This weekend I realized the swarm I caught is queenless. They don't have much comb, their numbers are dwindling and the only brood is all drone (laying worker I assume). By contrast the split I made off my formerly overcrowded 3ft hive is doing well. Next weekend I'll do a newspaper combine of the two and use now empty 3ft hive as a swarm hive again.

As for how to harvest. Crush and strain all the way. It's fast and easy. The bees make more wax and you can't be going for extreme honey production you wouldn't be in a TBH. I rinse out the old wax, leave the honey water for the bees, give a day to wax dry, then freeze it for a day and toss it in a sealed 5 gallon bucket in the garage. Once that bucket fills I render down all the old wax into blocks. From there my friends and family steal from me for their own uses.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So they will draw out that harvested bar pretty fast? And while on subject, do you ever clean off comb in the brood area? I think I have sourwood ahead if me. Probably makes sense to take some honey out to make room and feed it back if I need to.

Hefted my hive this morning and weight is greater toward the front, so that is good I think.
 

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I have been amazed at how fast they can draw out comb, but if you want high production you want a lang, since you can reuse the comb. As far as old brood comb it is good to occasionally move the old comb into the stores and let them fill it with honey and then crush and strain. This way you get the old comb out and get the honey as well. You can also recycle some of the old brood comb in new hives or in swarm traps if you are expanding.
 

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+1 on what Ennui said. Crush and strain is pretty easy. If you have a lang and you only have a super or two it is faster to crush and strain than to extract if you count all the prep and cleanup time. The only downside on a lang is you don't get to reuse the comb.
 
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