Gilbey

The Beekeeping Thread

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I am looking for some guidance after my inspections this past weekend. The good news, all three of my colonies are queenright. All three were two deeps and a honey super, 10 frame boxes.

I did an alcohol wash mite count on each hive, results were - 4,3,5 per sample. I plan to treat with Formic Pro first, and then follow up with Apivar. This is the method my local guru suggests, so that's my plan.

#1 and #2 - almost identical. Lots of bees. Each top honey super has about 4 frames full of honey. The second deep on each hive are nearly full of honey, easily 50+ pounds. The brood box on each hive has some brood, plenty of open frames, some eggs, some larva, not backfilled with nectar.

#3 - Top deep mostly full of honey, 40ish pounds maybe? More brood than the other two hives, eggs, larva in brood box. The honey super is empty and not built out at all, so I removed it, not sure if that was right or not.

So, my question, should I harvest those 7 or 8 frames of honey from the top supers of #1 & #2, remove them, and start getting ready for winter? Or should I just leave them, and start feeding 2:1? I am not desperate for the honey. My goal is to get all three colonies thru Winter and hope for a good harvest in early Summer 2020.

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Gilbey

Sorry but had computer problems or would have gotten back sooner.

 

Harvest some honey.  Those first small harvests give you some great pride and you get to share a bit with family etc.  After you get a bit you can still feed a bit if you want to.

 

Sounds like you have plenty in the hives at this point although I am not sure where you are located.  Do treat for mites now.  Get on it.  The baby bees made now and in October are your winter bees and you want them raised without mites.

 

I always give my bees a candy board as insurance over the winter.  If they need it - well it was there.  If they don't you can use it for syrup next spring.

 

After mite control winter prep is all about keeping the hive dry and moisture free.  Then food stores.  Those three in that order.

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Thanks Skeeter for the advice! 

 

I will try to harvest this weekend. If I didn't get to harvesting, what should I do with those partially filled honey supers? Leave them on the hive as is for winter? Or pull the honey supers off and freeze and feed later? 

 

I treated for mites on Friday with Formic Pro, 10 day treatment, and then I will treat again with Apivar strips in later October. I am only using this system because its what my guru down the street told me to use, and he's been doing this for 50 years. 

 

Last year I built a small 2" riser for the top of the hive and fed patties and sugar blocks on the top of the frames. I also fed pollen patties in very early spring. This year I have three colonies going into winter, and I will do the same for the other two. I also wrapped my hive last year in 2" foam insulation. I used the entrance reducer to the smallest opening at the bottom, and in the top riser I had a single 3/4" vent hole. That seemed to work, my bees lived thru winter, so I will do the same this year unless I hear of a better plan. I do understand the importance of moisture control. 

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If only a little bit is in a super you can put it over top of your inner cover and the bees are likely to move it down to the boxes below  (essentially robbing their own partially filled super.)

 

I always have a top entrance for over the winter ventilation.  Make sure the bottom is mouse tight.  A bit of half inch chicken wire is good.  Staple a bit over the remaining hole in your entrance reducer.

 

Take that 2 inch spacer and staple on a screen of half inch mesh across the whole thing.  That will hold your winter emergency feed just off the frames and make it easier to refill if needed.  The bees go up through the mesh just fine.  Put your feed up there.  I have moved away from fondant and now just use a no cook sugar board.  Just barely wet some white sugar and mix until it just barely makes a ball.  Like a dry sand castle mix.  Pack that into your shim with the screen.  Overnight it will dry hard like a sugar cube.  Feed that to them as it is much simpler than making fondant.

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Hey, I'm a total NewBee.....but I was told and have read this about Formic Pro from their website;

 

Formic acid is an organic acid that naturally occurs in honey. Formic Pro controls the vapour release of formic acid throughout the treatment period. By the end of treatment, formic acid levels in the hive reflect what naturally occurs in honey, when applied as per label.

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The timing seemed right, so this weekend I decided to harvest the honey from my honey supers. It total I had 12 shallow frames with varying amounts of honey. Some were stuffed full, others were about 30% full. I bought an economy extractor which ended up being an unwise decision.....shocker, it seems you get what you pay for :o . I will be returning the extractor and upgrading to an American built model. It did work though.

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In total I got about 20 pounds of honey. I ordered some jars which should be here this week so I can get the honey packaged up to share with friends. 

 

The extracted frames were put outside the hives, and the bees cleaned up the frames by end of day yesterday. The bees are absolutely amazing in their efficiency. The honey supers have been put away for the year. I will treat once more for mites, and feed some 2:1 sugar water until it gets too cold. 

 

IMG_1729.jpg.c267f3bfd3ac7166daa08bc17de48f64.jpg

 

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Good for you.

Feels good to get a harvest doesn't it?    For just yourself and family - just save up your mayo and peanut butter jars and reuse  (not lids from pickles or tomato sauce jars).  For giving away - it is nice to have nice new jars and new labels.  Let the bees lick off the capings too. Then you have some nice dry wax to let your kids make a candle or something.

 

So the frames that were 1/3 full - were they capped?

In general you want to only harvest frames that are capped or something like 50% or greater capped.

If you have too much uncapped you risk having "wet" honey - stuff that has not been condensed enough to be fully and truly honey.  If it is not fully cured (evaporated off) then it is essentially still nectar.  If it easily shakes out of the frame then it is nectar for sure.

 

The danger is that wet honey (honey with too high of a moisture content) can end up fermenting on you.  So for most of us we get some uncapped stuff in there no matter what.  It all blends so the finished product is usually fine.  Some folks actually measure the water content with refractometers.

 

Now take those empty supers and keep them away from wax moths.  Trust me that is bad news.  If you want to really be sure you have killed off all the wax moths, worms, and eggs - put the frames in the freezer for two days.  Or you can simply store them away from where moths can get to them and then once it gets good and cold put them outside overnight to get a good freeze on them.  Freezing kills all stages of the wax moth life cycle.

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Yeah, I have to say it does feel good to harvest, even if just a small amount. Definitely plenty to share with family and friends. I had read about harvesting uncapped honey, so I was cautious. Most of the frames were full capped, a couple had some open cells, but those that were not fully capped were definitely more than half capped......more like 75%. 

On the frames, so if i freeze the frames for a week what's the best way to store them after that? Sealed in plastic bags? In the basement (warmer) or in the garage (colder) for the winter?

 

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I drained the honey off the wax cappings and then rendering that down on a double boiler on the stove. After a couple times thru cheese cloth it's pretty clean and smells great. My wife is into making her own lotions, balms, salves, etc, so she has been waiting for the day when I could hand over a puck of bee's wax. 

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Sounds like you are OK with your honey.

 

Temp is not so important for winter storage of the supers and frames - once you freeze them.  I pile them in the basement.

But - keep each and every moth out of there!  And make sure there are no viable eggs in there either (freezing kills them too).

So a bag for the frames is OK but you risk damage (crushed wax) if the frames are loose.  You can keep them in the supers and pile them up but put on a lid of some sort and watch out for cracks etc if it is somewhere like a shed where those moths can get in.

 

The trick is to reuse the combs for as long as possible in the honey supers.  That way they do not need to draw out wax and can just use the surplus to fill them right up with honey.  That is why it takes a bit to get bees up to the point where you can harvest a surplus.  The first year they are making wax.  After they have it - less work in subsequent years.   However you will want to cycle out old brood combs when they get super dark or damaged or filled with too much drone comb.  Just pull and replace a few frames each year.

 

 

Can you tell I hate wax moths.............

 

 

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Ok - as promised here are some photos of candy boards for winter insurance.

First set is the boards that I made to take the place of your inner cover.

The rabbit wire is 1/2" mesh.  The rabbit wire end up side down - facing the bees.

On the two skinny ends I made a small 3/8" slot where the bees can go up and out (a winter entrance).  

This also allows the hive to ventilate out excess moisture.

Some of the moisture condenses on the sugar and they eat that.

You cover this with the outer telescoping cover and the bees can go up the little slot and under the outer cover and down the face of the hive.

 

You can make this less complex with just a frame and mesh but I thought this was a cool way to keep ventilation part of the equation.

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