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I would like to thank the folks who responded to Lois G. request for help with her hives and for Tracey LaForge for helping Lois work her hives. It is always nice to see beekeepers help other beekeepers who need help. Thanks again.
Below is a response to a frequently asked question.
Addressing the partially filled honey super issue;
Sometimes a beekeeper finds himself/herself facing what to do when they run across a partially filled honey super in their hives. It truly is only a problem when you don’t have an available solution so we will cover the different scenarios now.
If you are in the extracting room extracting your honey surplus and you run across a honey super that’s only partially filled, chances are good that the honey isn’t even capped over. You should set that box aside and locate some capped over frames and uncap them. Then run these freshly uncapped frames in with the uncapped frames you found in the partially filled box. When doing this you are mixing a lower moisture content honey from the uncapped frames with a higher moisture content honey from the uncapped frames thus bringing the moisture content to an acceptable moisture level.
If the honey flow is over and you don’t have enough honey in the honey super to make it worth extracting, then you can either freeze the partially filled super or you can place a queen excluder under the super and leave it on the hive for a while. The queen excluder will keep the queen from getting in the super and laying eggs. The bees will protect the super from wax moths and beetles.
You can leave this super on until the next flow or you can wait until approximately six weeks before winter sets in and then put it on the bottom of the hive. Don’t do what most books tell you to do and leave it on top. If you do, the bees will be moving into the upper boxes during the colder days for warmth (winter cluster) and the queen will begin to lay eggs in your super in January/February. Then your super will not be available for you to use during the spring flow because it will be full of brood.
By placing the super on the bottom of the hive approximately six weeks before the cold sets in, the bees will remove all food stores from the super (lower boxes) and take it up into the upper boxes where they will ride out the winter in their cluster. Depending on where you live, you can remove this now empty super at your first hive inspection and store it. Now you will have this super for the spring honey flow.
I do hope that this management technique will help you become a better manager of your bees.
Author of; “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey” and “Beekeeping: Questions and Answers”.
Lone Star Farms www.lonestarfarms.net
As always with your classes, I found today’s “Beginners Beekeeping Course” Part-1 to be very enjoyable and informative. You conveyed relevant, applicable information in an enjoyable manner that even I could understand. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn your common sense approach to managing honey bees without putting chemicals in to their home. It gives the “newbee” confidence to know that the methods which you teach were developed and tested over a lifetime of research in the best bee labs in the world, your own working production bee yards. I look forward to next month’s “Beginners Beekeeping Course” Part-2. I also find that it is great that each class is pretty much complete in that a person can begin to take the classes at any time with whatever class is being taught that month and find it an enlightening experience.
I have just begun to read your latest book, Beekeeping Questions and Answers. It appears that this latest offering is as easy to read and informative as your previous book, Beekeeping A Personal Journey. These are a worthwhile read, reread and reference source for the experienced beekeeper as well as the “wanabee” and “newbee”. Thank you for making these resources available.
May the honey continue to flow. Fred Keefer
Thank you for your kind words. If my students get even a 5th of what beekeeping has given me in the way of enjoyment and the feeling of giving back to "Mother Earth", then my job was done right. I am grateful.
Thanks again Fred.
I just got through doing an inspection on my hives and noticed something alarming. One hive had some drone comb and a capped queen cell at the bottom of a frame. I know what that means!!! A late summer swarm. Everything else looked great! Strong numbers, honey, pollen, and brood. Now my delima, I don't really want to divide the hive and make another one. Also, I know if I let it swarm, it will be hard for the remaining hive to build back up before winter without feeding them. I am thinking of disposing of the queen and all the queen cells if there are any more and uniting that hive with two other hives that could use extra bees for the upcoming fall flow. This is a feral swarm I caught two years ago, and it has a feral queen. The hive has always been strong and a good producer. Do you think this is a good plan or do you have a better suggestion? Also, since drones take longer to produce, would that be an early indication in the summer of the year that a colony is getting ready to swarm? Or is that normal for the colony to produce drones this late in the year? Thanks for your help.
You would think that it should be abnormal for a hive to produce drones and queen cells this time of year but there are exceptions. I have several hives that are heavy with stored honey, are strong in population and have a strong laying queen that are still producing drones. It does happen with these hives that they will produce a swarm at this time of year. Most times the swarm doesn't make it through the winter on its own.
If I were you I would find the queen (just to know where she is and set that frame aside.) and get rid of all the swarm cells. (It is easier if you shake all the bees off each frame back into the hive. You can see the comb for queen cells much better.) Find a hive that needs a boost in population then swap locations of those two hives. By doing this you will reduce the population in the hive that is wanting to swarm and boost the population in the other hive. There is no need for newspaper. Just swap the hive location. The bees will protect their queen.
I sent out an email to the Lone Star Farms members with your email to me. Hopefully, someone will contact you about helping you work your hives. Your location is too far from my farm (Centerville, Texas) otherwise I would help you myself. Please keep me posted.
Thank you so much for your help. I have had 4 calls from local beekeepers and plan to see Tracey LaForge on Monday. Thanks Again, Lois Gilliam
Thank you for helping a fellow beekeeper in need.
Yes my questions are:
1. How much honey should be left in a brood box for the bees? All of it or can I harvest a couple frames?
For the winter time here in Texas we like to make sure that the bees have a minimum of thirty-five pounds of honey available to them. It is not a good idea to harvest any honey from the bee’s two brood boxes. Those boxes should always remain theirs.
2. At what point should I reduce the number of brood boxes down to one box in prep for wintering (I realize it's too soon now because there may be a fall honey flow).
We should all strive to get our bees to live in two brood boxes especially here in Texas. We don't have a very cold or prolonged winter around here. This means that the hive population tends to be higher than in other areas of the country during those months. They will need to have enough food stored to carry their population during times when the plants are not producing nectar/pollen and yet the bees are still active.
You don't want to reduce the hive down to a single brood box because this will encourage the bees to swarm when the temperature begins to warm up in late February. Some hives when feeling congested as early as February will make up their mind to swarm when it gets warmer and there is nothing you can do to change their mind. My advice is to always get your hives strong enough to keep them in two brood boxes.
Days Gone By