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We had a nice sunny warming day here and I needed to move my hive to its new stand. Figured I might as well check the feed stores. I fed them 6 gallons of syrup Oct/Nov to make sure hey had enough. I have an 8 frame deep and medium box as a brood chamber, medium on top. QE then deep honey super. Honey super has 5 frames full of syrup honey. Medium brood box is also FULL of capped sugar honey. I didn’t look in the bottom deep as I didn’t want to chill them, it’s not that warm. So what to do? I’m thinking about taking the honey frames out of the honey super and putting blank foundation frames in. They can use up the honey in the medium brood super to make room for more brood if necessary above the bottom deep. This my first full year and they’ve survived winter so I’m pretty stoked. Buds are just about starting to bloom and I figure the next couple of weeks spring will be starting to kick in so all that sugar honey can go into swarm traps and split nucs. Still a LOT of feed honey left over though. Thoughts?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Since this is your first overwinter, you have not seen how fast they will go through stores in March and April. Still, 13 medium frames seems like a bit much. I target about 10 frames for the first of Feb and then expect most to be gone by the beginning of April when the flow begins to ramp up here in VA. You can pull the frames like you were thinking and feed them back if necessary. Or use them for splits, freeze and save for next winter, etc.
 

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QE then deep honey super.
Pull out the queen excluder. You do not want a queen excluder during the winter, if the cluster moves up thru the excluder the queen will get stuck below and freeze.


I would just leave the extra frames of syrup on the hive until april. As long as there is some open space under the cluster they will start building the brood nest down as they expand in the spring. I would rather my hives have extra stores then have them starve in the spring when they are building up. Being in Canada I suspect you still have 2 months until the bees can start bringing in excess stores.
 

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True, I haven’t seen how much they can go through. The medium brood full of honey was full of bees. There were even big clusters of bees in the top super. The bottom deep brooder is where the main cluster is so she’s safe for now. I just haven’t checked the brood numbers yet. I’ll leave the honey in place for now and monitor.
 

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in the Lower Mainland a box of bees can go November to late February on a couple frames of honey. Once they get brooding by mid to late Feb it changes, and they can go thru a 10 frame deep box of honey in 3 to 4 weeks, turning it into a 10 frame deep box of mostly brood.

I'd echo the QE comment, you dont want a QE in there if you aren't on a honey flow, making honey.
 

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Just to make sure it is heard - pull the excluder.

I'd leave the feed for now, it can always be removed later.
 

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Not from your area, but in a much harsher winter in the northeast, they hardly touch the stores until about this time of the year when they brood up and have no nectar. Then they go through a LOT. This is when starving happens. Leave it alone until a flow is about to come in. J
 

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Yesterday and today turned cold and wet so I'm not opening the hive up. Likely have a small window Wednesday when the temps go above 10C (52-ishF) so I'll nip in and pull the excluder then.
 

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Pulled the excluder today, noticed a lot of bees in the top super. Must be getting into that honey now, nice.
 

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I will mention as no others have.
Maybe you do not need 6 gallons of feed.... As this is you first year, I would weight the hive in the fall and feed what is needed. in the same scenario try 5 gal next year adjust as necessary. Overfeeding can have you with a bunch of filled comb, to store till fall.
GG
 

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Like you say,you could remove sealed syrup from honey super and replace with foundation.
Freeze syrup frames and use as feed next winter in the brood med. Or use to make splits.
 

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Like you say,you could remove sealed syrup from honey super and replace with foundation.
Freeze syrup frames and use as feed next winter in the brood med. Or use to make splits.
You guys are assuming winter is over and forage is abundant. OP is in my area, winter is far from over. Leave those syrup frames in the hive until dandelions are in bloom, then look and see what's left. I would expect that to be about a month from now.
 

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You guys are assuming winter is over and forage is abundant. OP is in my area, winter is far from over. Leave those syrup frames in the hive until dandelions are in bloom, then look and see what's left. I would expect that to be about a month from now.
This is my plan. The rest of March is forecast to be cool and at least partially (1/2 the time) wet and there's even a snow forecast for Sunday. Yesterday was nice enough to go in quick and get the excluder out. No decent weather for a full inspection for at least 3 weeks according to forecasts. I have an endoscope I can poke down through the top cover to get to the medium brooder full of honey to see how much they've eaten and I can tell how much room they have from the debris field beneath the frames. 8 frame hive, 4 lines of debris means they have room but the cluster is a decent size.
 

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What a blessing, to have too much honey this time of year, in an area that knows what WINTER looks like. And it's still winter here in NE OH too.

But that honey can be a curse too. those frames cannot accept nectar once the flow starts (the bees won't clean it out to make room for fresh!), and they cannot accept brood either. They can be a honey dome that triggers swarming.

Once you are within a week of your last frost date (May 15 for me), I would strongly suggest that you 1) get the queen into your deep-and-medium setup, where there will be room to lay, putting the queen excluder above this, and 2) pull your "honey super" deep completely, no matter the state, either save the frames for a future need or make a split then. And... 3) put a honey super on. I assume you're using mediums for honey? I would even suggest taking 2 drawn frames from the drawn medium that is your "brood medium"... and put those in the new medium as "bait frames".

An overwintered hive is ravenous starting about now, AND it grows in population _very_ quickly. They will double what you see now easily in 2 weeks of brood emerging. So, they are almost at full population size close to the last frost date 'round these parts (early May). As in, the size you saw in mid August last year. They will need room! Room for bees, and room to store nectar. Or, you'd better take out the queen.

This is where the fun begins! Better have honey supers assembled, and a spare box in case your hive swarms and you need a home for them. Now is the time to get those assembled and ready (but maybe not to paint, unless you get a break in temps or have heated shop).
 

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if they have that much capped and you aren't feeding now why not just add a super on top.
 

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if they have that much capped and you aren't feeding now why not just add a super on top.
folks gotta look at where the OP is located before figuring out how to deal with things. I'm only 100km from the OP, and this morning it's snowing. Really not a time to be thinking about adding supers, but a time to be happy the bees have extra stores in house....
 

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Went in this afternoon to have a look, still 5 of 8 deep frames full of honey in super. Upper medium brood box had middle 3 frames with brood and 1 queen cup with larvae and a few drones cells. I actually paused and watched a bee hatch out, was pretty cool. Bottom deep brooder-saw the queen, she’s huge. Again a fair amount of brood and lots of pollen being brought in. I took 3 frames of honey out of the super and put in foundation frames. Put 3 new medium frames in upper brood box, too. Left bottom alone. I’ll inspect every week now as I think here was too much honey still and they were running out of room. Plenty of food as of now and if I need to add more in the coming weeks I will but if this weather holds they’ll be off to the races...
 

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I have found that the bees can't draw out comb until after swarm season starts - I'm not sure if it is their instinct or it is the cooler night temps. So bees do not see an undrawn frame as "space" the way they see a frame with foundation drawn out BUT NOT FILLED WITH HONEY as "space". If on your next inspection, maybe early/mid April, the bees have not made progress on the undrawn frames, you might benefit from extracting the "honey" from the drawn frames, and replacing those waiting-to-be-filled frames in the hive. This gives the bees somewhere to store a nectar flow, which helps reduce the pressure to swarm.

Keep in mind if you have the deep, then the med, then the deep - the bees will fill the deep above the med with honey. Is that honey you would want to harvest? Then you'll really want a queen excluder between where you want the brood nest to be and the honey-for-harvesting to be. Otherwise the queen may well tunnel up to the top.

And you may well find with the queen having unrestricted access to the deep, med and deep above, that she will not even use the bottom deep. It will be an expensive "slatted rack" to hold excess bees and possibly excess nectar. Very few occasions offer the opportunity to get into that bottom deep, and so it is sometimes not obvious that the space is not being used.

Folks who are still dealing with periodic returns to wintertime have lots of time still to plan! It's not a good time to mess with bees though, because without warmer temps and continuous forage, their resilience is much more tested by our pokings. Please take care to realize every frame reshuffling at this time is a chance to kill the queen or move brood so it gets chilled or separate bees with stores - use that as your guide about whether to move things, what to move where.

Well done on diving in there and finding out the state of the hive. Do take good notes - the hive is not in this transition state, going from winter holding pattern to growth, for very long.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I have found that the bees can't draw out comb until after swarm season starts - I'm not sure if it is their instinct or it is the cooler night temps. So bees do not see an undrawn frame as "space" the way they see a frame with foundation drawn out BUT NOT FILLED WITH HONEY as "space". If on your next inspection, maybe early/mid April, the bees have not made progress on the undrawn frames, you might benefit from extracting the "honey" from the drawn frames, and replacing those waiting-to-be-filled frames in the hive. This gives the bees somewhere to store a nectar flow, which helps reduce the pressure to swarm.

Keep in mind if you have the deep, then the med, then the deep - the bees will fill the deep above the med with honey. Is that honey you would want to harvest? Then you'll really want a queen excluder between where you want the brood nest to be and the honey-for-harvesting to be. Otherwise the queen may well tunnel up to the top.

And you may well find with the queen having unrestricted access to the deep, med and deep above, that she will not even use the bottom deep. It will be an expensive "slatted rack" to hold excess bees and possibly excess nectar. Very few occasions offer the opportunity to get into that bottom deep, and so it is sometimes not obvious that the space is not being used.

Folks who are still dealing with periodic returns to wintertime have lots of time still to plan! It's not a good time to mess with bees though, because without warmer temps and continuous forage, their resilience is much more tested by our pokings. Please take care to realize every frame reshuffling at this time is a chance to kill the queen or move brood so it gets chilled or separate bees with stores - use that as your guide about whether to move things, what to move where.

Well done on diving in there and finding out the state of the hive. Do take good notes - the hive is not in this transition state, going from winter holding pattern to growth, for very long.
Thank you for your thoughts. Good advice. I’ll be checking the honey deep tomorrow to see if there’s been any activity on the new frames and hopefully there won’t be eggs up there. The top deep is intended to be honey only. I’ll put an excluder on likely then.
 
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