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 Here`s a thought;

Most of us in the South are thinking about preparing our bees for winter and that includes making sure that the bees have enough food stores to carry them until spring. Feeding sugar water is the most common way to beef-up those food stores however, we all know that feeding honey to our bees is a much healthier solution.

The most common practice made by those beekeepers that are fortunate enough to have extra honey supers containing honey is to place those honey supers on top of the hive for the bees to eat throughout the winter months. As the temperature begins to drop, the bees will move into the upper box to form their winter cluster. If you have a honey super as the top box, the bees will move into it for the winter.

Now let’s think about it. We would really like to keep our honey supers as honey supers and not have any brood in them. During the winter months the queen will lay brood in the top box where she is located and you will not have that honey super available in the spring time ready for the honey flow.

The solution is really simple. Instead of placing the honey super on top for the bees to winter on, place the honey super on the bottom. Bees will always move their honey stores up as winter time approaches so that it will be available to them while they are in their winter cluster. The lower box is usually empty by the time February arrives (in the south) and can be removed at that time and stored until the honey flow begins or remove the empty box when you perform your first inspection of the year.

The key is to add this super at least six to eight weeks before the cold hits. That will allow the bees enough time to move the honey from the bottom to the top box.

As you can see, your honey super offered your bees the food supply they needed and it will be available for the spring honey flow without having been used for brood activity.

I have always enjoyed learning the bee’s natural instinct and using it to my advantage. Beekeeping seems to flow more smoothly when I do.



Bee Talk

  Hey Dennis,

I just wanted to mention to everyone that last year about this time I bought your book and liked it so much that I bought three more and gave them as Christmas gifts. My beekeeping buddies told me that it was their best Christmas gift. One of the wives used it as a stocking stuffer.

Anyway, thanks again.   Pete G.

Hello Pete,

Thanks for the complement. It really is a gift that doesn’t go away after Christmas is over. It is nice to have as a reference guide all year round. Thanks for the email.



 The class this past Saturday was informative and interesting, as your classes are. You have a talent for conveying useful information in such a way that your students will remain interested, attentive and learn from your years of experience. This is no small accomplishment considering that most audiences tend to become numb on both ends after about 15-20 minutes of lecture. I look forward to each month’s class.

Your beekeeper’s garage sale was great. It gave new bees as well as experienced beekeepers an opportunity to acquire available equipment at a very reasonable cost.     Fred

 Hello Fred,

 Thanks for the compliment. I have always enjoyed teaching and writing. The biggest reason I have written my two beekeeping books was to offer beekeepers that lived to far away to attend my classes a way to learn through my experience. I hope that over the years I have helped beekeepers enjoy their bees as much as I have enjoyed mine.

 Thank you for contributing to the clubs newsletter by sending interesting articles for everyone to read.


 Hey Dennis,

How's life?  Everything is good here.  I enjoyed class yesterday.  Ready for the next one.  I checked my bees this evening and replaced some bottom boards.  All my hives look pretty good.  Most hives have good populations, honey stores, and brood in the top box.  In the bottom box, the bees have packed away lots of pollen and started bringing in nectar.  One hive is doing exceptionally well.  The top box is crammed full of honey.  The bottom box is full of brood and bees.  One frame is nothing but capped brood.  Every cell is full of capped brood.  There is no room for honey or pollen around that brood.  The other frames are full of pollen, brood, and honey.  My question is....Should I be concerned with that hive becoming honey bound?  Should I add a honey super, or perhaps a brood box to get some more drawn comb?  WWDD  (What Would Dennis Do)?    The rest of my hives are strong, so I don't think any of them would benefit much from an extra frame or two of brood from this one.  I had already thought of that.  I just don't want them to get the swarming feeling this late in the year. Thanks, Jeff

Hello Jeff,

 I am glad that you enjoyed the class yesterday. I would not worry about your hive being honey bound at this time of year. The queen has slowed down on egg laying and there is a very small chance of swarming.  If you like, you could put a drawn honey super on top. Place a queen excluder on first so the queen won't go up into the super. It would be rare for a hive to draw out foundation this time of year with such a mild flow going on but they would fill a drawn super and then cap it. If they added any nectar in it, you could pull it off and extract it.


  Hey Dennis,

 I inspected my hives yesterday and could not find any eggs in one of the hives.  The bees were very aggressive and there is a capped queen cell in the middle of the frame, like a traditional supercedure cell.  There is still lots of honey and capped brood and even uncapped brood, but no eggs.  What do you recommend I do with the hive?  I know the virgin queen will not get properly mated, but is there a chance her mating would be sufficient to carry hive through winter, or do I need to unite the hive?  Sincerely, Ryan VonGonten

 Hello Ryan,

 Have you looked for the original queen? How many frames of bees do you have in the hive? Is the hive made up of two brood boxes still? Is the lower box empty?


 Hi Dennis,

 I checked the hive again today.  I did not find the queen.  I still have two brood boxes, and they are both full of bees.  Seven of the frames in the top box were covered in bees.  The other two outer frames are filled with honey, and there are usually not too many bees on them.  The frames in the bottom box were mostly all 1/2 full of bees.  The top box has some capped brood, and is pretty much packed out with nectar/honey.  The bottom box had a couple of frames with capped brood, lots of pollen, and a good amount of nectar/honey. 

 My hives are about 50 yards from my house.  Apparently my wife did not see me out there working the bees, and she came outside and got stung in the nose.  And my daughter came out and got bees in her hair, but luckily not stung.  I’m glad I have two hives because I can clearly see the temperament difference between the two hives.  And I guess I need to communicate better next time. 

 Thanks,   Ryan VonGonten


 I would wait for a couple of weeks before I did anything. If the hive is now queen-less you will have to unite it for winter. If the hive is queen-less in a couple of weeks, (no eggs present) than you would still have to unite the hive. So, for now since it makes no difference, let's wait and see if there is a virgin queen in there or if the hive has been taken over. The best scenario would be that there is a queen and the hive can stand on its own until spring when you can re-queen it.


 This article was sent in by Tracey LaForge.

Honey bees: Should they be banned from native plant restoration areas? - Oct 2, 2013

What’s a honey bee to do?

The dwindling resources of pollen and nectar-producing plants in California greatly concern bee scientists and beekeepers, and rightfully so.

But the dwindling resources also greatly concern native pollinator specialists and native plant enthusiasts. Some worry that honey bees, which are non-natives, may be "reducing" or "eliminating" native pollinators through competition for food.

Are they? Extension apiculturist  

Hello Tracey,

 Honeybees are the only insect that will store a surplus of honey for the human population. If the Almond growers had to rely on other pollinators to pollinate their trees, there would not be any almond trees with fruit on them. There is no way native pollinators could be in such numbers to pollinate all the things that honeybees do. 

 Unfortunately, in the near future there won't be enough honeybee colonies around to pollinate anything anyway. In Asia, the farmers are pollinating their fruit flowers by hand using Q-tips. All the pesticide use in their country has wiped out not only honeybees but all the native pollinators as well. We are not far from that ourselves here in this country. We are poisoning the bees and the soil just like they did in Asia.

 The hive population in our country has been decreasing steadily since the 1950's but much faster since the beekeepers have been using pesticides in their hives and the farmers have been poisoning their plant seeds and the ground.

 It is sad but, there is nothing you can do about it. Some of us have been fighting for years to change things but, the politicians will only respond to money and that is what most of us don't have. The chemical companies have the money and that`s why they are succeeding. Sad but true.


 Ref: BEEKEEPING, A Personal Journey


I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book. It was organized very well, got to the point, and not only easy to read but very interesting.

You mentioned in the book that you obtained your screened bottom boards from Kelley's. I looked in their catalog and noticed they list 3 different items (57, 57-OA, and 57-TA). Do you happen to remember which type you obtained?

I live in North Texas (Terrell) and  gets rather hot here just like it does in Bryan, although the humidity is somewhat lower.

Take care,  Earl (A&M Class '59)

Hello Earl,

 Thanks for the compliment on my book. I am glad you enjoyed it. The cat # is 57 on the bottom board. “Happy Beekeeping.”



Days Gone By