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I currently have 4 hives. In may i got 2 packages which i split last summer. My question is that when should i pull off the supers in the summer. I realize that it very's greatly in differn't areas so i am not looking for a date. more for a seasonal time. Here is my problem. the end of last august i pulled 5 frames of honey off each of my 2 stronger hives. expecting them to be packed full down lower. later i checked and there was very little honey stored in the brood chambers. the only honey left was pretty much the few frames i didn't steal in the super. Is there a point that i should pull the super's this summer so they start to pack in around the brood chambers. i am using all mediums so i plan to winter in 3-4 mediums. or is it maybee just because i split them and they didn't have enough time to backfill everything. or will they normally fill in around the brood chambers even with some space in the supers. should i pull the supers the begining of august when the flow is going strong still?
 

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Kwest, If you don't mind I'm going to watch you question closely. I have experienced the same thing several seasons. I'm learning that if the hive doesn't have abundant stores in the spring the nest doesn't build up quick enough to gather sufficient stores to last through the summer into the fall flow. Then depending on the quantity of fall flow the nest may not have enough stores for the next spring. The other problem as you stated is the super effect. Do I take it or will they need it?? Will they move it down?? If they have stored it above an excluder, what if I leave the super on over winter with the excluder. Will the bees move up leaving the queen behind???
Dick
 

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Speak with a local beek or another beek with similar weather/winter patterns. They can advise you how much honey your bees need left on them to overwinter then plan accordingly with what is in the broodnest and in supers. SQKCRK is correct that excluders should be taken off after the flow to prevent the problem that was noted.
 

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i dont use excluders, i do think i have a okay idea on how much honey i do need to winter them. My question is will they backfill the broodnest for winter stores if supers are left on above them? or do i need to pull off the supers for my late flow to get them to backfill the brood nest? I currently have one hive with 2 deeps and two mediums on top of that wintering up high in the two mediums because that is where the bit of honey was. now people talk about hefting a hive for weight but i dont think hefting a hive of two deeps and two mediums above that is going to happen by one guy. not without a wreck at least:eek:. how do you get them to backfill the brood nest so you can winter in just two deeps or maybee three mediums?
 

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it depends on your philosophy of beekeeping
some people remove supers at the end of the flow and rob all the honey they can. Of course this leaves the hives too light to go through winter so you have to feed them sugar water to make up for it. But the argument is that honey is worth more money than sugar water so you come out ahead.
Others think you should only take what the bees can spare and leave enough for them to make it through the winter on their own.
It's a choice you have to make yourself but you're correct in your observation that your local conditions and the timing of your flows plays heavy into your think on this matter

Dave
 

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My question is will they backfill the broodnest for winter stores if supers are left on above them? or do i need to pull off the supers for my late flow to get them to backfill the brood nest? how do you get them to backfill the brood nest so you can winter in just two deeps or maybee three mediums?
They will backfill if you have a strong enough fall flow, whether you leave supers on or not, but you can't count on that fall flow. I have had similar problems some years. Before you pull off the last late summer honey, you have to see where the brood nest is and how it is set with pollen and honey, and you have to leave enough honey above it to get bees through the winter, unless you'd rather feed in the fall. I don't want to feed in fall so I pull the last honey about Sept. 1. If I get a good fall flow, as I did this September, some colonies will have excess; I use some to equalize stores and I reserved a few supers of honey in the comb for feeding if necessary in spring. I could bring out the extractor again if I had a really great fall.
Incidentally in your area three mediums would be pretty skinny for over-wintering (I've lived in the Gallatin Valley); two deeps or four mediums would be the minimum I'd try to over-winter them.
 

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I am a new beekeeper that is just learning, so my opinion here probably doesn't account for much... Having said that, it seems to me.. to get to the heart of your question, why don't you consider the following:
When the weather warms up this spring and the bees are getting active, REMOVE the medium supers and MAKE them fill out the lower deeps with surplus honey and nectar. Once tthis is accomplished, THEN add 1 medium super until it is primarily full, then either replace or add other supers as needed. In late summer or early fall, take the honey you plan to harvest once you are assured there is amples stores still existing in the brood chamber boxes. Like I said, I am new, but this seems to be a pretty common way of doing things in my mind.
 

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If you keep "3-deep" hives (2 for brood, 1 for food) it makes "taking supers" easy. You can take 'em anytime you like, and the the bees always have a "reserve" (if food chamber is full).
 

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When the weather warms up this spring and the bees are getting active, REMOVE the medium supers and MAKE them fill out the lower deeps with surplus honey and nectar.
Sounds like the recipe for swarming. Spring build up, back filling brood nest with nectar, no place for queen to lay = .....
 

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Randall Clark, that is a recipe for encouraging swarming... the brood nest is expanding... if you limit the brood nest by forcing backfilling in the spring, the bees will sense that they cannot expand, and have enough food for the main colony to survive, so they throw a swarm.

Spring management is vastly different than fall management. In the fall you want them to backfill, to the point if they can't do it naturally, you must feed feed feed. In the spring, they need space to expand and grow, and space to store incoming nectar as they transform it to honey. If they are light on stores, you also need to feed in the spring, before the honey flow. But as you feed before the flow to encourage the rapid increase of brood, you also must provide the queen space to lay, and space to accomodate the growing volume of brood and bees. If you don't, they'll swarm.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
how do you guys get them to backfill the broodnest. will they do it naturally if there is still some room up in the supers? or is restricting them down during the flow to the brood nest and maybee one filled super the only way to get them to do it? it seems to me that the only way they backfill the lower 2or 3 deeps or mediums or whatever you have is if they do not have any room up in the supers. Is this thinking correct or am i wrong. i just dont understand how i can winter my bees in two deeps or whatever without forcing them down into them with a nectar flow going on. i seem to have boxes stacked high right now with i think nothing at all in the lower boxes.
 

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Yes, backfilling the brood nest occurs as the comb in the top of the hive becomes full of honey, and they fill down into the brood nest.

HOWEVER!!! Now is not the time to be thinking of backfilling. That is late flow, or fall flow management. If you think, and try, backfilling between now and your main nectar flow, you'll encourage swarming. One must think of the seasonal ebb and flow of hive management. The bees do it normally, but we mess their process up when we "collect the rent" as I call it. :applause:

If we collect too much rent, we need to rebate some of it in the form of feed, so they can backfill late in the season to get ready for winter. As an added tidbit, nutritional analysis and reports from other threads on this forum, and in other literature, reveals the importance of supplemental pollen feeding beginning in the early fall to have fat and healthy bees to go thru the winter.

But remember, now is not the time to be thinking backfilling. If your bees are light, you must feed or they will starve between now and April. More bees die of starvation in late Feb. and March than any other time. So watch them, and think FEED. Either dry sugar (mountaincamp method) or when the weather warms enough in your locale, syrup. Personally I've been playing it safe, and am keeping my colonies stocked with dry sugar.

Don't worry about empty comb in the bottom of the colony now. That is normal. The cluster is moving up into stores as the brood cycle resumes this month (depending on your locale). I'm running two deeps, so in late Feb. or very early March, as the colony expands the brood nest, I'll need to reverse the bodies, moving the now empty bottom box above the brood nest. That provides the expansion space necessary for the queen to lay. I'll also be sure they have enough stores so they don't starve. In some locales I understand a beek might need to reverse twice.

Some beeks don't reverse. I tried that last year, figuring the little darlings would move down. Did they? Not for me! lost swarms. Won't repeat that mistake. But that's what happened here, in SE Missouri. Your luck may vary. Hope this helps.
Regards,
Steven
 

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I like to leave them until the weather is cool at night. That way I can go out early on a chilly 40 F or less day and pull the supers without bees in the supers. Also I can gauge what they will need for winter if I wait until late so I can leave them enough. Also, when it's frosting at night, the wax moths cease to be a problem so after I harvest and put them back on for cleanup, I can pull them off without worrying about wax moths.
 

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Thanks for the lesson, guys.... I didn't mean to imply to let the bees completely fill the bottomss until they completely ran out of room and swarmed. The question was how to get stores in the lower boxes and with careful observation, that seems like a way to accomplish it. Expand the hive as the colony expands, so to speak...But I can see how it needs to be done in late summer or early fall instead of the spring. Sounds like too much space is currently available?
 

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Michael, you're not exactly living in the balmiest part of the country for late fall early winter weather... Is it safe to assume when you pull honey supers, you place them in a "hot room" to warm up the honey a bit to make it easier to extract? And maybe that would be a nice topic for a new thread? :scratch:

Randall, I wouldn't worry about the bees having "too much" space right now. In your part of Oklahoma (I was born and raised in Tulsa :applause: ) any hive manipulations you might do now would cause more harm than good. Let the bees take care of themselves in that respect. The sanctity of the cluster is crucial with your current weather. You can make adjustments as you start your spring manipulations, specifically "reversing" or "checkerboarding" or a combination of both.
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Steven
 

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>Is it safe to assume when you pull honey supers, you place them in a "hot room" to warm up the honey a bit to make it easier to extract?

If you call my kitchen a hot room, yes. Yes, I warm up the kitchen and yes I wait for them to warm up. They won't extract when the honey is cold.
 
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