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I've got honey, now what? Help

 
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buffalobob
House Bee


Joined: 04 Apr 2014
Posts: 17
Location: US, Michigan, Detroit

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:18 pm    Post subject: I've got honey, now what? Help Reply with quote

I have gone thru quite a few of the post and have not seen this topic. Pardon me if it is covered but I want to get this work done by this evening. I have a top bar hive, put in last year. 36" long, 21 bars. The bees had comb on all of the top bars and honey in all so I left everything over the winter. I do have bees, they survived, at least some. I removed the 3 honey combs in the rear which were all about half full of capped. 2 more combs of honey left before I get into the brood combs. It's pretty warm now and the bees are active so I want to wait until it cools a bit later today to proceed. Now my question, should I remove all the honey comb now, or wait a little? I have read that the bees will not consume the old honey and there were no bees on the combs I removed. I do have a sugar syrup feeder going and when warm the bees are consuming it at about a pint a day. I do not know if I still have a queen at this point. I did put fresh bars in to replace the ones I removed.
Thanks in advance for any input.
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How confident are you that winter is over? We are still experiencing cool and wet days when the bees cannot fly.

I would always leave them enough to get through a week or so of bad weather, should it turn cold again. Given the weather over the last few years, I'm making no predictions.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

I believe that bees need to develop a bio rhythm with their locality. That way the colony builds up as nectar becomes available and the weather becomes warmer and more settled. Until nectar becomes available they will live off their honey.
Nectar and syrup are like ready cash in your pocket, honey is money in a savings account. When there is cash in your pocket, you don't need to go to the bank, but if you run out of cash for whatever reason, you dip into your savings.
The bees will not eat their old honey if there is a ready supply of syrup or nectar, because they know the honey in sealed cells will keep. That is their "rainy day" savings fund.

By feeding them syrup before there is a steady nectar flow(and of course there is no point in feeding them syrup when there is a nectar flow), you stimulate them to expand before conditions are right for it and they become out of sync with their locality. This can mean that they are more likely to need emergency feeding at other times.

They will happily live off their old honey stores until there is a nectar flow, if you don't give them syrup.

If you wish to harvest their honey and give them a less nutritious alternative, then that is your choice, but don't be mislead into thinking that you are doing them a favour by removing their old honey and feeding them syrup.

I'm not saying that you should never feed syrup, but just be informed about why you are doing it and what effect it has.

If this was my colony, I would not be artificially feeding them and I would leave that honey on the hive until there was an obvious, strong nectar flow and then harvest it.

Those are my thoughts and recommendations.

Well done with over wintering them and best of luck in the coming season.

Barbara
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara hit the nail on the head. I would not be feeding any hive that has honey stores, especially in early spring. Let them live off the honey and build up naturally.

Cheers
Rob.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also bear in mind if you are feeding syrup they may well fill some of those other half filled honey combs with leaving you with a honey syrup mix when you try to harvest.
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buffalobob
House Bee


Joined: 04 Apr 2014
Posts: 17
Location: US, Michigan, Detroit

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I pulled the last 3 bars in the hive yesterday, honeycomb only, all about 1/2 to 2/3 full. The hive is only 17 bars and those are the only bars with honey only. The rest have some honey on the top of the comb with brood below.

I'm thinking I want to remove a couple of the bars , at the rear, that have the brood/honey comb to try and get a few more honey only bars nearer the center of the hive for the bees in the winter, and maybe a little more for me in the spring.

Yesterday I had no problem, no bee suit, no stings. Nice spring day. Today, overcast and cool. I opened the hive up and was going to inspect the rest of it and boy, were the girls pissy!

Stung 3 times in 2 min. They came out of the hive like a rocket. Got the bee suit on and got it closed up as it is going to rain later. I did remove the feeder as I know now there is still honey. 1 did get into my suit and was buzzing around my head. Got the suit off and freed her.

I cannot find my bee book right now but I am ordering Phil's book right after I finish this post.

Thanks for the replies, I do appreciate the input.
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bob,

There's also the nutritional aspect too. Honey is more than just sugar and water. Personally, I try to not take more honey than I think they'll need and only feed sugar in an emergency.

Ron
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

The weather definitely affects them temperament wise, but two visits from you in two days is also probably pushing their good nature a little too far, as you found out. On the positive side, there are supposed to be long term health benefits from bee stings.

Quote:
I'm thinking I want to remove a couple of the bars , at the rear, that have the brood/honey comb to try and get a few more honey only bars nearer the center of the hive for the bees in the winter, and maybe a little more for me in the spring.


I'm not sure I understand what you are suggesting here?
The bees will back fill their broodnest in late summer/autumn so that there is honey in the centre of the hive for winter.

It is best not to mess with the order of the combs, in my view.
By all means add an empty bar here and there to expand the broodnest and give them somewhere to store honey but I'm not a fan of taking a comb out and putting it back somewhere else in the hive without good reason. It can lead to all sorts of problems especially if you don't know what you are doing. For instance if there is brood and nurse bees on it and they get separated from the main broodnest, they will start to raise an emergency queen and then things can get a bit confused and aggravated.

Forward planning is good but my best advice is not to get too tied up in the idea of helping the bees. I have found that a lot of the time, my idea of help is their idea of hinder. They usually have a better plan and I am slowly learning not to put my big spanner in their works.
Trying to get them to do what you want usually ends in frustration and sometimes disaster. Learning to watch and accept and work with them is a slow but rewarding route.
I battled my bees for years to try to prevent swarming and failed. Now it seems that swarming is actually one of the main mechanisms by which they are coping with varroa. It is also the birth of a new colony which should be celebrated and enjoyed, not hampered and regretted. Having found Natural Beekeeping I can now accept and rejoice in it. It's about the way you think and see things. That was the big jump in outlook for me from conventional to natural. Accepting nature instead of fighting it.
I still get honey, although no where near as much as conventional beeks, but my bees thrive and their swarms thrive... without the need for chemicals or artificial feeds or having to buy more bees every other year. In fact, I am happily supplying new beekeepers with free bees each year as well as increasing my stock. This surely is a greater success.

Will now step down from the pulpit and quietly crawl back to my pew. Hope I didn't send too many people to sleep!.... I do get a bit carried away Embarassed

Best wishes

Barbara
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stevecook172001
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a fine post whose content I agree with entirely Barbara.
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buffalobob
House Bee


Joined: 04 Apr 2014
Posts: 17
Location: US, Michigan, Detroit

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the great response Barb.

I do not want to rearrange the bars, I just thought that by removing the rearmost bars with brood cells and honey and replacing those with new bars the bees might draw out more honey combs so the hive would have more honey going into the winter and thus leave me a little more in the spring.
I'll get it out eventually. I've already figured out that bees are adaptable and unless I do something really stupid they will repair and adapt.
Again, thanks for taking the time to respond.

Bob
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stevecook172001
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're doing better than me Bob. My poor little buggers died on me this winter just gone. Partially cos they were a tiny end of summer cast swarm, but partially cos I couldn't leave em alone. It was my first lot of bees and I was over eager. Barbara has been incredibly kind enough to let me have one of her primary swarms this coming summer and I am absolutely determined to do it right this time.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am being won over by the leave well enough alone school.
It seems that whenever I try to do anything, I have to spend a period of time afterwards trying to make right whatever it is I did Confused
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 260
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always think that this quote on Michael Bush's website sums it up really.

When you are confronted with some problem in the apiary and you do not know what to do, then do nothing. Matters are seldom made worse by doing nothing and are often made much worse by inept intervention.

(The How- To- Do- It Book Of Beekeeping. Richard Taylor.)
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It seems that whenever I try to do anything, I have to spend a period of time afterwards trying to make right whatever it is I did.


Yes, I have certainly experienced that on a few occasions and I have caused the demise of colonies by ill judged actions in the past and it is a bad feeling.
I would definitely say that it amazes me what poor conditions my bees can survive in if I don't interfere. I have two nuc hives with swarms that survived winters with no insulation on top, just a piece of plastic and a brick to keep it down to keep the rain off the top bars and no feeding. One has survived two winters like that and threw a swarm and a cast last year, both of which have survived.... I really need to treat them to some new, full size hives with proper lids this year!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally leave alone. I like to have a poke and prod inside on occasion (actually it's a bit of an addiction Shocked but I have it under control and having more hives definitely eases the burdon on the bees) Empty bars/frames are added at appropriate times and visual checks for disease and mite levels are done. Two or perhaps three inspections a year works well for me and my bees can cope with that. Swarms are dropped into a hive and mostly left to get on with it during their first year.

Mannanin I really like that quote, although the temptation to tinker about with things often occurs without being confronted with a problem..... Man has this terrible need to try to improve things, even when they are just fine the way they are.

Bob, if you want those honey bars out, start inserting an empty bar between it and the brood nest every few days/week and gradually work it to the back. If you move it right to the back in one go and there is brood on it, then you risk them getting isolated from the queen and raising an emergency queen as a result. The queen will not cross a gap or honey barrier to lay into it but the nurse bees on it will sense the absence of the queen if they are remote from her and try to make a replacement. This will make for an unhappy hive.
Not sure I explained that very well, but hopefully you will get the gist, which is to move it back in stages with an empty bar inserted between it and the others. Wait till they have started building nice straight comb on the empty bar and then add another one. Once all the brood has hatched from those honey bars you want out, you can either harvest them then or wait for them to fill with honey and cap the cells that the brood was in and then harvest.

Regards

Barbara
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