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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I have a first year hive that got off to a late start and as a result does not have adequate winter stores. I'm going to be doing an inspection today and want to know if I should begin feeding. The bees seem busy and seem to be bringing in nectar, although I have not seen any pollen going into the hives. As of two weeks ago, they still had several frames not drawn out into comb. I've read that zone 6 bees should have anywhere from 60-100 lbf of honey going into the winter. I am really doubtful that they have this much, though I intend to determine this today. What is the best way to estimate the weight of the honey that they have stored? I've seen some people use scales, but doesn't that weigh frames, comb, and brood?

Is it still too warm to begin feeding, if necessary? I'm located in Middlesex county, Massachusetts, and I'm using two ten-frame deeps.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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I would ask around about target weights and I would look at the size of your cluster. My guess is you need about what we need here. I would be looking to leave between 1 and 2 capped combs of honey for every frame of bees in the cluster. More than 2 is not necessary. Less than 1 and they may starve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Michael, thanks for the reply. When you say '1 capped comb' does that mean one side of a frame?

I hear a lot of reference made to the cluster size. This always confuses me since the bees are not in tight cluster during the warm weather. It'll be in the mid 70's today when I open the hive. How do I know what my cluster size is/will be? Do I double this for the two deeps?
 

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I'm not all that far from you. I don't have much coming in right now although with this cooler weather we've had lately things might pick up. I expect that we'll see more flow towards the end of this month and into September. I often get a nice flow towards the end of the summer and it can fill things up. All that said, I usually need about 80-90 pounds of stored honey going into the winter. In order for me to get that, I need a decent amount of field bees when the flow starts again. I would be certain that you have a good queen. I'm not terribly concerned with drawn comb because they'll pull wax if they need it. Here in Pepperell, I decide if I want to feed around Labor Day. If I do feed, that usually (key word here) gives them enough time to store enough syrup. Some years I can feed into November. Other years it's over much earlier. I don't think I've ever started this early but others in our area may have greater wisdom!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Ravenseye. Thanks for the input, it's really helpful. If you don't have all 20 frames drawn, do you rearrange the honey at all or do you just let the bees do their thing?
 

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As long as you're using the same unit of measurement for bees and honey you'll be fine. I think in terms of a comb covered on both sides with bees as a frame of bees. And a comb capped on both sides with honey as a frame of honey. All my frames are the same size. If yours are different sizes you may have to do the math. Three mediums = 2 deeps.
 

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purple loosestrife is in full bloom and there seems to be much more around this year [maybe the cold winter killed the bugs that attack it]. Goldenrod is just blooming and Japanese bamboo is budded. Should be a good flow for the next month or so.
 

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Camero is right. Every year is different. Colony size is important. Nectar availability...weather....a lot. I've had hives that go from virtually nothing stored to full winter weight in a few weeks between now and the end of September. I've had others that needed to be fed. Some get robbed. To answer your previous question, I don't manipulate frames much. Once in a while, I'll fill in the ends of supers (replacing partially filled end frames with full frames from another super) but normally, I let the bees decide what to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That's all good to know, particularly about putting away the entire winter's stores in a few weeks. I'll have to cross my fingers for that. This colony basically missed the spring flow altogether so putting away stores has been a struggle. They basically have one complete deep frame of honey, and the rest is distributed throughout the two boxes in the upper corners of the brood frames, etc. They have actually begun backfilling the brood nest in the top box pretty heavily. From what I've read this is normal this time of year. Can anyone corroborate?
 
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