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Can we leave heather honey in hive over-winter?

 
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PennineFoxhound
New Bee


Joined: 28 Aug 2014
Posts: 1
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:11 am    Post subject: Can we leave heather honey in hive over-winter? Reply with quote

Hi there, I am involved with a local conservation project, we have our first beehive ('modern' not natural/topbar). I am trying to persuade the others that we should leave all the heather honey in the hive over-winter and if there is any remaining next spring, remove it then. They say heather honey will harden if we leave it in hive and so won't be able to extract/bottle it. I can't find any evidence to argue with that... can you help please?
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Mark Young
Scout Bee


Joined: 27 Jan 2011
Posts: 277
Location: High Weald, Kent, England

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would suggest in the interest of conservation that the hardening of the honey in such situations is really a secondary concern.

For the first year I left all the honey on. I made a record of the stores before winter and again at the first flow; that gave me an indication of how much stores they will need available in future years for a successful winter. That should avoid starvations or having to feed inferior sugar. I also believe the excess honey helps jump start the spring build up which benefits everyone...

Then you can start your harvesting the following year, fully aware of what you can/cant take.

And I suspect if you wanted, that there will be a little spare in the spring for you to share amongst yourselves anyway Wink. Extraction may be a little more time consuming but hey, that's half the fun...

P.S Just stating the obvious but if you use an excluder (please don't) then remove it as way too many people make the mistake of leaving it on over winter.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Just stating the obvious but if you use an excluder (please don't) then remove it as way too many people make the mistake of leaving it on over winter.


There will be those reading this to whom it is not obvious at all so I will spell it out. If the honey is above the excluder, the workers will move up to eat it, leaving a starving queen below and a doomed colony as no more eggs to produce new brood once the queen dies.
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Tavascarow
Silver Bee


Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 962
Location: UK Cornwall Snozzle

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heather honey doesn't crystallise so isn't going to get 'harder'. But darker honeys have been proven to be not as good for wintering than lighter ones.
Dark honeys increase the bees need to deficate more often (Increased impurities) so if they are confined by cold weather & can't fly?
I know some bee keepers who keep back clover honey to use as winter feed & extracts all the darker & more crystalline honeys for bottling or to save for spring feeding the following year.
There is an argument that in areas where bees are confined for long periods (Scandinavia, Canada etc) pure sucrose is a better winter feed than honey for the same reason.
I know that goes against 'natural' principles but what's natural about keeping bees in an area where winter lasts for seven months & there aren't any wild bees of the same species?
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imkeer
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Oct 2011
Posts: 203
Location: Belgium, Antwerpen, Schilde

PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heather honey is always hard to extract, because it sets like a kind of gel. I have left it in over winter without any problem. The mineral content is higher, but does anyone really think that this is a problem for local bees?

Luc
http://hapicultuur.be/nl
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Paul Reyes
Nurse Bee


Joined: 14 Aug 2014
Posts: 26
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with you Tavascarow.
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