I am in central Ohio and have 2 new hives that are filling their first honey supers on top of 2 - 8 frame deeps. When do you remove, or how do you know when to take the honey supers off and let the bees prepared for winter?
It is an extraordinary year when people get honey off of first year hives - I often don't try.
Take the honey when it is capped and when you are ready to process it. There is no calendar date to go by. As for when to let the bees start arranging things for winter, before you put on the supers what were things like below. Had they started putting honey by? If not, I'd take the supers off now and let them get started saving up for winter.
I like to wait til the flow is over a few days but don't know your flow conditions.
Worked for a guy once that had several hives he had a certain date he would start pulling honey.
So he sent me out to start pulling was using a flat bed 3/4 ton truck pulled every thing that was capped (they were still in a good flow) but the honey even under the capping's was to hi of moisture he had a tester for moisture. so i drove home and got my dehumidifier put a piece of vis queen over the stagger stacks stuck a fan under it also and it pulled out a 5 gallon bucket of moisture in 24 hours and he was counting how much money he had lost because of what i did.
The 60 barrels of honey he pulled from the previous was bulging the lids and had to have some dipped out before he delivered to a government ware house
A few years later the ware house workers said they had barrels that were losing honey from under the lids and it did not smell very good
But if they are still making lots of honey the moisture is still high a lot of the newly brought in nectar has not ripen yet and moisture is high in the hive while they are doing the process.
They both were full of bees and capped honey when I put on the supers. One had close to 6 frames of capped deeps and the other had 4. They also had capped stores in the tops of the brood frames. They have had a good source of white sweet clover all spring but that has faded. I have shallow honey supers and one hive has capped 2 frames and the other has one. They are drawing most of the frames in the super.
I doubt that I will get any honey this year, being my first year. Some of the hives are doing a good job of drawing comb out but still not enough. Other hives are just piddling little things that haven't even drawn out their first medium yet. This has me concerned. I don't know what the deal is with these slow hives.
If it takes the bees till fall to build up enough stores with me feeding almost constantly, how can the bees draw out enough comb next year to store honey and me not feed them?
In a perfect world you won't have to feed over wintered bees unless you wish to give them medication or encourage them to start building up early.
It then comes down to what do you have available for the bees to forage on - and is it spread out over the season or come in intense but short lived flows. Bees on a good flow will draw comb in honey supers. Their incentive is they want a place to put the honey.
A basic question to ask is there enough forage in the area to support bees? I can't answer that from here.
It sounds like you're not experiencing a good honey year out your way. Have you compared notes with other beeks in your area? Do you know what your bees are feeding on (or at least supposed to be!)
We've been all excited over the early appearance of golden rod here in Maine but when I went to look at a field of it today - there were a few bumbles - but no honey bees. I haven't figured out what they are foraging for... yet.
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