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Author Topic: First Year Honey Production Questions  (Read 3262 times)

Offline Weeha

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First Year Honey Production Questions
« on: January 13, 2012, 11:10:21 AM »
I have entered the world of beekeeping...
Last year I installed 3 nucs in hives.
They blossomed into 3 very strong hives consisting of 2 deeps full of bees  and brood!

I live in Raleigh North Carolina and our winter so far has been VERY mild.
The bees have been out flying most every other day.
I fed them 2x syrup during the warm days and all seems to be well...

Time for the good part: Honey Production...
I have lots of questions...

Honey Flow:
I have found a source for the timing of honey flow in my area at this link:

For the link above it appears that honey flow would be best in April.
I have a lot of Tulip Poplar trees and a huge holly near the hives.

I have no supers of drawn comb.
I tried to get them to draw out some supers last year but had no luck.
The supers I will be adding are FOUNDATION ONLY.
It is my understanding that this is the procedure I should follow:

A. Install a super of foundation on top of the brood chamber without a queen excluder. (Don't know date I should do this)
B. Once the bees have drawn out this super 80%
   i. Make sure the queen in not on the super.
  ii. Remove the drawn super and install a queen excluder on top of the brood chamber
 iii. Above the queen excluder place another super of foundation.
 iv. Put the 80%drawn out super over the super of foundation.
C. As each super of foundation gets to be drawn out 80% perform steps i to iv to add a new foundation super
D. When the honey flow stops (Don't know date of this ) Remove capped frames of honey from supers for extraction.

Given my location and the chart of honey plants in my area at the link above...
1. What date should I rotate the brood chambers?
2. What date should I begin feeding 1x syrup and pollen substitute patties?
3. What date should I add my first super? (Keep in mind the timing of honey flow given in the link above)
4. Should I initially not use a queen excluder when I add my first super of foundation to encourage the drawing out of of comb?
5. Can I feed the hives at all to assist the drawing out of comb and not get sugar syrup in the honey supers? What about pollen patties?

Once I have harvested:
6. What should I do with the frames from supers that have some uncapped honey/nectar in them?
    I cannot extract them as the honey is uncapped so what should I do with these frames?

7. What is best to cleanup the extracted frames?
   i. Put the extracted frames back on the hives they came from and allow the bees to clean them up?
        If I do as above how do I stop the supers from getting filled up again?
   ii. Putting the extracted frames outside away from the hives and the bees will find them and clean them up without refilling them.
8. After the main honey flow and extraction should I leave supers on the hive for fall flow?
9. When should I have all the supers off of the hive?

I have VERY limited storage space.
I will have to store the drawn comb supers I hope to get this summer inside my home.
10. What is the best way of protecting the supers from pests considering they will be inside my home?

Offline mikecva

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Re: First Year Honey Production Questions
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2012, 02:07:41 PM »
I can not give you dates as my bees can not read the calendar.  :lau: Sorry, I just had to say that.
1.  I only rotate my boxes if the queen is laying in the top box with little or no honey above her in that box.
2.  I begin feeding in late winter just before the pollen starts in my area. I will only push pollen while the bees are drawing out comb, with no comb to be drawn out I stop feeding pollen once the vegitation here has a good start.
3&4 My queens seldom cross over a lot of capped honey (see answer 1) so about a week after a good flow started I pop on the first super [note, I use all mediums so the top hive box is usually half honey] I usually do not use excluders when there is comb to be drawn out.
6.  Let the bees keep them.
As for storage, a friend of mine puts parchment paper above his three boxes (all mediums also) then stores his supers on top of the hive. I 'hate' that because it always makes it look like he is getting his supers filled even in the middle of the winter.   :buttkick:   - Mike
Listen to others but make your own decisions. That way you own the results.
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Offline Tommyt

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Re: First Year Honey Production Questions
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 07:15:26 PM »
Michael Bush

All your questions and then some

"Not everything found on the internet is accurate"
Abraham Lincoln

Offline ziffabeek

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Re: First Year Honey Production Questions
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2012, 10:57:34 PM »

Wow! What a thorough post!!  I have a feeling, you might be disappointed or frustrated with the replies/answers you receive.  So I wanted to post my experience/view/education with bees - for what it is worth.

Bees are soo exciting!  And I am a (slightly. . . HA!) OCD person, so I want to do everything right! I came onto this forum to learn the right way to do things, so that my bees would be healthy and happy and give lots of honey.  My very first lesson? Ask 10 beekeepers how to do something, and you'll get 11 different answers. What?  What do you mean you can't tell me exactly how often to look at my bees?? What do you mean you can't tell me exactly what date I should pull my supers! How the heck am i supposed to schedule this!!

It is actually the most valuable lesson I learned here.  I repeat it ALL the time.  There really is no 'right' way.  There are different ways.  There are definitely wrong ways.  But there are so many other ways, that to say one is right, is . . . well, wrong! lol :p

Several of your questions ask for a date. Well, as you noted,  when you do something has a lot to do with where you are.  But it also has to do with what is happening that year, where you are.  A very smart man said to me once that beekeeping is only part watching and knowing about bees.  It is very much about watching and knowing what is going on in your environment.  The answer to almost all of your questions is dependent on the rain, temperature, plants, weather, - all these factors will affect what your bees are doing on a given date and when you should do a, b or c.  Your bees didn't draw out the supers?  It might have had more to do with what was happening in your environment or where the hive was at rather than what you were doing.

What I am trying to say is, I look at my bees as a lesson in slowing down, participating in rather than controlling, and becoming aware rather than scheduling.  Read through the forums,  try to learn the signs that will tell you when action is needed, watch, listen and see the bees and your environment, and your questions will be answered. Mostly by the bees themselves.

As you said, you have entered the world of beekeeping.  It might not be what you expected, but it will certainly be worth it!

It sounds like you are off to a great start with 3 healthy hives!  Here's to a great bee- year for us all!


Offline sc-bee

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Re: First Year Honey Production Questions
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 08:44:53 PM »
I disagree with Ziff ---- Sorry Ziff 10 different beekeepers at least 15 different answers. Some are going to change their mind before you finish asking the question :-D

Answers below are my opinion for what it is worth:

1-I rarely rotate a brood chamber -- except when the top box is honey bound and they are not moving down. They will usually move down on their own. With that said, if you want to rotate them. When the pollen and brood starts, on a warm day switch them around- if cool just don't bust up the brood frames in the chambers.

2-If the hives are light start feeding now.  If they are not light don't feed. We have had a mild winter. Just remember if you start feeding it will stimulate brood production with the pollen coming in and you will have to continue feeding if you start. If not you may increase your population of bees and if no nectar to gather they may starve.
- Feeding pollen - if none coming in only feed during our cool weather late winter and early spring. Feed very small patties or ropes (roll it up in little rools and prop between frames) are even better. Feed only what they can consume an move quickly. Pollen patties in a Southern area with SHB spell disaster.

3- That all depends on the timing for the year. As they begin to store nectar and or raising bees add a super. It will;l not hurt to add a super too early but It will hurt to super too late (swarms)

4-My opinion do away with the excluder period. Just my opinion :-D excluders help swarming especially with beginner beeks. Let her lay don't confine her.

5-Yes - feed until the flow starts then stop. If you feed remember to give them room and don't overfeed and cause honey bound. Not likely early in season as hive is growing. Pollen patties be aware of SHB! I can not emphasise this enough.

The bees did not draw the comb out last year, probably late in the season, after flow, because they saw no need for it. They will draw after flow only if they need it or you continued to feed at the tailing off of the flow to make them think there was still a flow. Once the flow stops and they sop drawing it is hard to induce them to do so.

Gonna skip the other Questions at this point. I peck and pick and time restraits at this time. Remember all of the above is just one beekeepers opinion

John 3:16