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Author Topic: First year: harvest honey or not?  (Read 3599 times)

Offline lmehaffey

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First year: harvest honey or not?
« on: March 28, 2009, 01:00:29 PM »
I've heard and read various ideas about leaving the hives unharvested the first year -- some say it helps the hive build food stores for the first winterand reduces the need to feed "extra"; some say it does not hurt the hives at all. My first hives are going to be populated in a few weeks and I'm curious as t what y'all think about this......
It is what it is.......except when it isn't.

Offline homer

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2009, 01:22:03 PM »
I've heard and read various ideas about leaving the hives unharvested the first year -- some say it helps the hive build food stores for the first winterand reduces the need to feed "extra"; some say it does not hurt the hives at all. My first hives are going to be populated in a few weeks and I'm curious as t what y'all think about this......

It all depends on how much excess they have.  I got 2 gallons off of a hive that started from a packages last year.  I've got a friend that got 5-6 gallons off of each hive that started from a package last year and they all survived witer just fine.

Offline IABeeMan

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2009, 02:00:12 PM »
 It all depends on the hive, the flows, the weather. I hived 4 packages last year and ended up with 5 hives and about 200-225 lbs of honey by the end of sept. All 5 hives made it through the winter and are doing well this spring.

Offline sc-bee

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2009, 02:06:06 PM »
As stated above it varies from location to location and even from year to year in same location.

Some folks harvest their honey and than feed bees sugar water because they can get a better price by selling the honey. With the rising cost of sugar I don't know.

There is also the belief that the bees fare better on the honey than they do sugar water. Imagine that :-D.

Check with a local beek and see what the average amount of honey is for a hive to winter in your area and then decide, if you think you have a surplus when the season is over.
John 3:16

Offline doak

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2009, 02:20:14 PM »
I am right next door, central Ga.
If I started with a package, I wouldn't get any honey the first year.
The main flow here is in April and may, when they would be building up.
After the Tulip Popular and black berries, I have nothing in the way of a large nectar flow until August/Sept.
I don't move my colonies. :)doak

Offline lmehaffey

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2009, 03:05:42 PM »
doak...that's what I heard from a Lodge brother of mine who keeps bees about 10 miles from me. He said to keep them active and healthy, but not to worry about honey harvesting until next year. Not a problem for me, since I'm still on the steep slope of the learning curve!
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Offline Michael Bush

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Offline lmehaffey

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2009, 04:14:25 PM »
Michael -- thanks for that link. The comments were pretty sensible, IMHO. I'm prone to take on too much, too soon when I am excited about something. I'm really trying to take it easy and learn as much as I can -- beekeeping may turn out to be a staple part of my retirement life, so I'd like to do it right.
It is what it is.......except when it isn't.

Offline MustbeeNuts

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2009, 04:53:46 PM »
I got 75lbs my first year from 5 hives, but well thats unusual I'm sure.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2009, 09:59:44 PM »
Ask around and find out what an appropriate target weight going into winter is for your area.  Then come fall, harvest down to that weight and no more. Or feed them up to that weight.  :)
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2009, 12:02:35 AM »
Ask around and find out what an appropriate target weight going into winter is for your area.  Then come fall, harvest down to that weight and no more. Or feed them up to that weight.  :)

:-*

I always try to feed past that weight because the winters here in the PNW can vary greatly.  Some winters they will use only 1/2 the stores, the next might be much more severe and they use 90%.  I feed my bees until the vast majority of the brood comb is back filled and they start drawing burr comb for extra storage, then I know they're ready for winter, regardless the size of box(es) the hive is made up of.
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Offline asciibaron

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2009, 09:43:30 AM »
last season was very wet in April and May here in Maryland.  i installed the bees and feed them so they could draw out comb.  in mid June i decided to let the hive keep the all the honey - they made it through winter with 2 frames untouched.  i did not feed them at all in the fall and only put on a feeder at the end of February.  my concern for my first season was making through to this season with a strong hive.  it seems to have paid off, the hive is building quickly and the queen is doing her thing.  the pollen and nectar are starting to come in and i will be adding the honey supers in about a month.

i am looking forward to some amount of honey this year - any amount is fine with me.

-steve

Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: First year: harvest honey or not?
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2009, 05:42:58 PM »
last season was very wet in April and May here in Maryland.  i installed the bees and feed them so they could draw out comb.  in mid June i decided to let the hive keep the all the honey - they made it through winter with 2 frames untouched.  i did not feed them at all in the fall and only put on a feeder at the end of February.  my concern for my first season was making through to this season with a strong hive.  it seems to have paid off, the hive is building quickly and the queen is doing her thing.  the pollen and nectar are starting to come in and i will be adding the honey supers in about a month.

i am looking forward to some amount of honey this year - any amount is fine with me.

-steve

Your experience is exactly why most experienced beekeepers say not to expect a honey harvest the 1st year.  All too often beginners can't wait for that first taste of honey and harvest super late in the summer, then the  bees have try and replace all those stores and since the major  honey flows are already past they can't build up enough replacement stores and the  hives dies of starvation and the beginner wonders why.  You can make up the difference by heavy feeding of syrup but too many beginners forget that step.
Better to for go the taste of h oney for a year and let your bees have everything they make the 1st year and enjoy a harvest the second year when the brood combs and already built and established and bees can afford to part with a surplus.

Good Job!
Life is a school.  What have you learned?   :brian:      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!

 

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