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Author Topic: Wintering question from a guy with no bees  (Read 1170 times)

Offline kenh2k4

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Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« on: February 11, 2014, 11:52:19 AM »
I'm still in the research phase of beekeeping and have yet to purchase anything. I'm being very thorough :) I'm trying to be as "natural" as possible. I don't have the space or the patience to worry about being certified as organic, plus I'm not planning to start a honey business, just have enough for myself and for gifts/bartering. Anyway, my question is, is it possible to leave one or both of the honey supers on during the winter to allow the bees to survive on their own honey instead of artificially feeding sugar syrup. I would then harvest the remaining honey in the spring when the next season has started.

I realize that this will dramatically reduce my honey harvest, but like I said, I'm not trying to sell it in bulk. My main reason for bees is to increase the effectiveness of my garden, but I want to get some honey too.

I was reading the other day and just thought of this method, so I'm not sure if it has been tried or if it would even work. Sorry if this has already been addressed. I searched the forums and didn't find any other mention of it.

Thanks in advance for your input!

Offline chux

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2014, 12:18:34 PM »
I started in 2013 with mostly cutouts. Those langstroth hives went into winter with the brood, pollen, and honey in one deep, and a medium of honey they had produced on top. So far, so good. This was suggested by a commercial beek. 

Offline 10framer

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2014, 12:50:51 PM »
that's a lot closer to how it works in nature.  i would hope that a hive will produce more than two supers of honey in an average year, though. 

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2014, 12:58:56 PM »
That is what I do. Your bees are much better off having honey for the winter than using sugar water. They are not the same. My bees are growing every day. 2 of the hives are bearding already. I pulled 1200 pounds of honey from 12 hives last year and left minimum of 1 honey super on every hive and some had 2 and 3 had 3 supers. that paid off because 2 hives used all of their food and I just used the top supers from the 2 with 3 supers.
True honey has a PH around 3.6, sugar water has a PH of 6.6. The bad bacteria does not like the low PH.
Read Michael Bushes book, The Practical Beekeeper. It is one of the best books for a new or old time beekeeper.
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Offline kenh2k4

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2014, 01:14:44 PM »
Thanks for the advice! I have no idea how much honey to expect with our longer Ohio winters so I didn't know if I'd get more than 2 supers worth. I still have a ton more research to do!

Offline kingd

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2014, 02:52:16 PM »
I'm still in the research phase of beekeeping and have yet to purchase anything. I'm being very thorough :) I'm trying to be as "natural" as possible. I don't have the space or the patience to worry about being certified as organic, plus I'm not planning to start a honey business, just have enough for myself and for gifts/bartering. Anyway, my question is, is it possible to leave one or both of the honey supers on during the winter to allow the bees to survive on their own honey instead of artificially feeding sugar syrup. I would then harvest the remaining honey in the spring when the next season has started.

I realize that this will dramatically reduce my honey harvest, but like I said, I'm not trying to sell it in bulk. My main reason for bees is to increase the effectiveness of my garden, but I want to get some honey too.

I was reading the other day and just thought of this method, so I'm not sure if it has been tried or if it would even work. Sorry if this has already been addressed. I searched the forums and didn't find any other mention of it.

Thanks in advance for your input!

    Awesome question,
This is exactly the same thing I've been wondering. I asked one beekeeper and he said "Why in the world would you want to do that"?
 Never did get an answer :(

Offline Dunkel

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2014, 03:55:40 PM »
It is like all the answers in beekeeping, it just depends.  Some hives won't make any surplus. Could bee for various reasons, swarming, weather, manmade splits, mites etc.  The nature of the bee.  I left two full medium supers on a hive in August, it had made 10.  By Sept. the hive was booming with bees but without a fall flow I ended up trying to feed and ended up with them surviving on sugar cakes since New Years.

The hard and fast rule to beekeeping is, there's  no hard and fast rules :)  At first you'll be trying to figure out what's going on and react to it, later on you look for things to try to catch the problem before it starts.  That's what makes it a never ending quiz when you crack open that hive.  I know one thing for sure is the more I learn the less I really know.


Offline T Beek

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2014, 04:08:44 PM »
Many Beeks stop taking any honey after a certain point with much depending on the particular regions upcoming flows.  For myself, I stop taking honey in mid August and depending on any subsequent flows (asters and goldenrod) I might still have to feed syrup………..but; feeding syrup in the Fall usually winds up being eaten by bees rather than stored and capped...…..so if any 'capped honey' is left in the hives come Spring time….its all mine, I take most of it  8-). 

Taking the 'left over winter honey' once the Spring flows begin is about as 'natural' as we can get IMO.  :)
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Offline Bush_84

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2014, 07:36:18 PM »
There is also something to be said about reducing their wintering space.  If those honey supers are purely excess you could always remove the supers in the fall and put them back on at any point in the winter should they need it. 
Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline kenh2k4

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2014, 07:55:59 PM »
There is also something to be said about reducing their wintering space.  If those honey supers are purely excess you could always remove the supers in the fall and put them back on at any point in the winter should they need it. 

That was another question I had. I read that the more space there is on the hive, the more the bees have to work to keep it warm, so I was wondering if I could switch them out as needed too. I'm really looking forward to all of the experimentation possible with beekeeping

Offline kenh2k4

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2014, 07:58:01 PM »
Taking the 'left over winter honey' once the Spring flows begin is about as 'natural' as we can get IMO.  :)
That's what I'm planning to try, I just wanted to know if there is a reason more people don't do this. Thanks for all the help!

Offline 10framer

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2014, 08:18:04 PM »
Taking the 'left over winter honey' once the Spring flows begin is about as 'natural' as we can get IMO.  :)
That's what I'm planning to try, I just wanted to know if there is a reason more people don't do this. Thanks for all the help!
because a pound of sugar is a lot cheaper than a pound of honey.

Offline kenh2k4

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2014, 08:36:50 PM »
because a pound of sugar is a lot cheaper than a pound of honey.
That's exactly what I figured. Like I said, I'm not in it for the money (yet :)) so I'm ok with letting the bees enjoy some of their work.

Offline 10framer

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2014, 09:43:37 PM »
my plans are to get back to what i consider "light commercial" over the next 4 or 5 years.  i plan on leaving enough honey for the bees to get through winter on their own. 

Offline Jim 134

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 10:16:11 PM »
you need to buy beez right now or get a line on some and put down a depositit is late in the season to buy beesI do hope you can find some



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Offline kenh2k4

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2014, 10:23:47 PM »
I'm going to use this year to buy all of my equipment and get my first bees next year because I don't have enough money to get everything at once

Offline Joe D

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2014, 11:14:48 PM »
Dunkel, you got that right, it does depend on a lot of things coming together for your bees to make a little or a great honey crop.  I also try to leave plenty of the honey for my bees.  Last year mine didn't have a great year and I didn't take any.
Down here we don't have bad winters usually so they are out flying all during the winter and use a good bit of stores.  Lots of the beeks in my local club try to finish extracting by mid July.  The rest of the summer and fall the bees can collect and fill the hive for themselves.
Ken, if you get into a local club you maybe able to find some bees with hives for a reasonable cost.  There was an old beek that died and I got his 3 hives, not in great shape, just under $400.  I made some new supers, tops, and bottom boards and moved the frames with bees over to new supers.  Good luck to you all and your bees.


Joe

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2014, 07:49:47 AM »
By spring all the honey is usually crystallized (here it is anyway) and impossible to harvest.  I harvest after the fall flow, which gives me a good indication of what they will need.
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Offline T Beek

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2014, 08:15:44 AM »
Nothing wrong with crystalized honey, we either warm it up or 'cream' it.  We 'crush and strain' the majority of our honey and make as much 'cut comb' honey as the bees can be convinced to make  ;).

Our Fall flow belongs to our bees, all of it.  ("different strokes for different folks")  If its a good Fall flow there are few worries, if bad (light hives in September) we feed syrup and pray.
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Offline Steel Tiger

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Re: Wintering question from a guy with no bees
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2014, 09:05:01 AM »
That was another question I had. I read that the more space there is on the hive, the more the bees have to work to keep it warm, so I was wondering if I could switch them out as needed too. I'm really looking forward to all of the experimentation possible with beekeeping

 Bees heat the cluster, not the hive.