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Harvesting honey from an hTBH

 
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Jeff Lynn
New Bee


Joined: 26 Jan 2017
Posts: 2
Location: Fordingbridge, England

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:19 pm    Post subject: Harvesting honey from an hTBH Reply with quote

I'm struggling to find advice on when/whether/how much I can harvest from an hTBH. I can't see anything in Phil's book, my Natural Beekeeping friends just say that this is difficult - much easier with a Warre. Can anyone help?
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1568
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

There are so many variables with harvesting that it is difficult to give hard and fast rules.
If you can give some specifics about your hive.....
How old?
Started from?... a swarm... prime or cast, a package or a nucleus colony?
How many bars of comb do they have?
Have they swarmed this season? If they have swarmed multiple times they will have a reduced workforce and therefore will struggle to replace what you take.
How many combs of capped honey are there?
How many combs of brood?
Is there a good arch of honey over each brood comb as well as solid bars of honey at the back?
What is your local forage like? Knowing what local plants produce a good nectar flow and when, helps you to predict whether they will be able to replace what you take from them, before autumn.... For instance, there is a mass of Himalayan balsam in my area (I live down by the river) which is just flowering now and produces probably my main nectar flow of the season. Heather is just coming into flower if you live on/near the moors. Do you have agricultural crops near by.... Oil Seed Rape is probably all finished but there may be late crops or peas and beans nearby or flax or some farmers have been using Phacelia as a green manure which is a wonderful nectar producer if they leave it until it flowers. Lyme trees can be a wonderful source of nectar too around this time of year if you have those nearby. The nearer the source of nectar the better as it is more efficient for them to collect it and therefore they will store more.

Many people with TBHs leave harvesting until the following spring, just to be sure their bees have enough for winter, but if you have a strong colony with good stores now, there should still be plenty of summer left for them to replace it, assuming the weather is not too dry or too cold and wet.
The great thing about top bar hives over Warre's is that you can just harvest a comb or two at a time rather than a whole box, which can potentially leave them short.

I'm sorry, there are no hard and fast rules I can give you. It comes down to trusting your own judgement and taking into consideration many different factors.
Beekeeping is a skill that is learned over many, many seasons because there are so many variables. Don't expect to get it right every time, but do figure out why things went wrong, so that you can try to avoid making the same mistake twice.
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Jeff Lynn
New Bee


Joined: 26 Jan 2017
Posts: 2
Location: Fordingbridge, England

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's the best answer - list of pointers - I've seen yet. Thanks.

Started from a relatively small prime swarm, as far as I know. Collected by a local beekeeper towards the end of April. 8 combs. No swarming. I haven't examined each comb as I'm trying to minimise disturbance so don't know the mix of brood and honey.

We live on farmland, less than a mile from a river. There was a great deal of oil seed rape earlier in the season, not sure what's in the fields at the moment. About half of local area is livestock - mostly sheep. Lime, clover, some ivy locally. Heather a couple of miles away.

I know I'm jumping the gun a little and the welfare of the bees is my priority but I am eager to try a little of my first honey.
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