NZBF: Do I extract or leave for winter feed?

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24
23
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
Learning as I go. Haven't done a full season yet and my single hive turned into two hives early on with me removing the queen as I had sone queen cells that had hatched. I'm running 3/4 boxes and single brood box. I put two supers on through the flow and have extracted a box off each then just took 1/2 out of the last remaining supers thinking to leave the remaining honey for their winter stock. I have more honey than I know what to do with so thought rather than feed sugar over winter I would let the bees have it.
I checked the hives today and both supers are full and there is some capped honey in the outer brood box frames. How much honey does a 3/4 single brood box need for winter? Is there a danger of them filling more frames in the brood box or should I replace some frames with wet empty frames?
 
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Mummzie

Staff member
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Tasman
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Perhaps someone from your general vicinity could add here.
This is where local knowledge comes to play. You are in a warm climate and I presume your bees will remain reasonably active over the winter, even raising brood all through. This will mean they will use more food for winter.
I encourage you to not sugar feed. There is very little reason a hobby beekeeper should have to feed an established colony.
I also run 3/4 and aim to winter in 2 brood boxes and a full box of honey as minimum, but in a more southerly location.
If there is no further honey flow expected in your region, I would leave it and assess the surplus, if any, when the spring buildup begins.

Treating for varroa is a priority.
 

yesbut

Staff member
11,892
6,999
Nelson
Experience
Hobbyist
If you have more honey than you want you most definitely do not need to starve the bees over winter/spring. I too winter double 3/4 brood plus a couple of supers. The hobbyist challenge is limiting hive numbers to keep that honey harvest under control.
 

Josh

Gold
972
713
Christchurch
Experience
Hobbyist
If you have more honey than you want you most definitely do not need to starve the bees over winter/spring. I too winter double 3/4 brood plus a couple of supers. The hobbyist challenge is limiting hive numbers to keep that honey harvest under control.
4 boxes over winter? I guess Nelson doesn’t get as cold as we do here in Canterbury.
 

yesbut

Staff member
11,892
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Nelson
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Hobbyist
4 boxes over winter? I guess Nelson doesn’t get as cold as we do here in Canterbury.
No it doesn't. It also as far as what I hear goes doesn't produce anywhere near the honey flow of anywhere else in the country....the production per hive here is the opposite of our sunshine hours.
 
8,648
5,113
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
Learning as I go. Haven't done a full season yet and my single hive turned into two hives early on with me removing the queen as I had sone queen cells that had hatched. I'm running 3/4 boxes and single brood box. I put two supers on through the flow and have extracted a box off each then just took 1/2 out of the last remaining supers thinking to leave the remaining honey for their winter stock. I have more honey than I know what to do with so thought rather than feed sugar over winter I would let the bees have it.
I checked the hives today and both supers are full and there is some capped honey in the outer brood box frames. How much honey does a 3/4 single brood box need for winter? Is there a danger of them filling more frames in the brood box or should I replace some frames with wet empty frames?
first thing is you should be running at least 2x 3/4 or single FC for brood. running a single 3/4 for brood will certainly cause swarming come spring.

for wfd area you can do just the two brood boxes provided they get packed well. or leave a single full 3/4 on top of the two 3/4 brood boxes. you want them to pack honey in the brood as the honey flow declines.
 
24
23
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
I'm in the Wellsford Area (that's an hour north of Auckland). Took 9 frames from the two supers on the 20th Jan and both full now so honey flow is still on the go. Does two brood boxes mean much more supers in the next season? As a hobbyist with 2 hives I don't need more honey. Yes the first hive I got from a BKer 2nd October was robust. Inspected on the 10th and notified Wilf the hive was bursting at the seems. Sent him some photos of hatched queen cells and he advised removing old queen into a nuc with 3 brood frames removing the varroa strips and placing a super. The hive swarmed on the 25th so had two and a half hives within my first month of beekeeping. I'm not sure about having 2 brood boxes but if it reduces swarms and makes wintering easier I could try but don't want to expand my apiary more than what I have.
 
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24
23
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
Perhaps someone from your general vicinity could add here.
This is where local knowledge comes to play. You are in a warm climate and I presume your bees will remain reasonably active over the winter, even raising brood all through. This will mean they will use more food for winter.
I encourage you to not sugar feed. There is very little reason a hobby beekeeper should have to feed an established colony.
I also run 3/4 and aim to winter in 2 brood boxes and a full box of honey as minimum, but in a more southerly location.
If there is no further honey flow expected in your region, I would leave it and assess the surplus, if any, when the spring buildup begins.

Treating for varroa is a priority.
Would a 3/4 brood box get through a super of honey over winter? And by placing Varroa treatment strips does this negate taking honey from it next season?
first thing is you should be running at least 2x 3/4 or single FC for brood. running a single 3/4 for brood will certainly cause swarming come spring.

for wfd area you can do just the two brood boxes provided they get packed well. or leave a single full 3/4 on top of the two 3/4 brood boxes. you want them to pack honey in the brood as the honey flow declines.
If I go for x2 brood boxes would I add a super on top or under present brood box? I only have wet extracted frames to add. But this will reduce my number of super boxes I have to add for next spring, I can see my apiary expanding?
 
8,648
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maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
Would a 3/4 brood box get through a super of honey over winter? And by placing Varroa treatment strips does this negate taking honey from it next season?

If I go for x2 brood boxes would I add a super on top or under present brood box? I only have wet extracted frames to add. But this will reduce my number of super boxes I have to add for next spring, I can see my apiary expanding?

your missing the basic principles of beekeeping.
you need to give them what they need.

the brood needs to run at a certain size. having to many brood boxes is not a problem, they fill the space with honey. ie two FD brood boxes will generally have a good layer of honey in the 2nd box.
however to small means the queen will run out of lay space and they will swarm like crazy. so we need to make sure the brood aera is big enough.
a single FD is a tad undersized. two FD is good a bit oversized but some hives will run more brood than others so having spare space is not a bad idea.
two 3/4's works well. some people use three.

as far as supers go, you put on what they need.
you need to make the hive big enough so it can house the bees without them being overcrowded.
then you need to have enough supers to collect the honey. so you will collect whatever the surplus amount is. if you don't want that much then bottle it and give it to friends etc. remember there is bad years. you often get one good year and 3-4 bad ones. so storing jars of honey away is not a bad idea.
plus leaving a good amount on the hive for winter reduces the amount you might have to feed.

if you don't put enough supers on you the hive will back fill the brood. thats good at the end of the flow but if that happens early the hive will lose bee numbers and make it weak. weak hive are venerable. you always want hives going into winter strong.

no1 thing with bees is they expand, gather their crop, then reduce in size. its up to you to go with them. forcing them to do against that will cause you big problems.
 
8,648
5,113
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
If I go for x2 brood boxes would I add a super on top or under present brood box? I only have wet extracted frames to add. But this will reduce my number of super boxes I have to add for next spring,
perfect, add the sticky box above the other brood box. this is assuming you have full comb on the frames. if you have scrapped all the wax off you need to do it a bit different.

get more boxes.

as you can see by some of my pics hives can get very big. common rookie mistake is not having enough boxes ready to go.
 

Mummzie

Staff member
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Tasman
Experience
Hobbyist
And by placing Varroa treatment strips does this negate taking honey from it next season?
No.
Next season is two treatments away.
Placing varroa strips now means you have a chance of a live & healthy colony in the spring. Its commonly advised a beginner beekeeper use conventional treatments for the first year or two, and to follow the label instructions.
You should not harvest honey from a hive with treatments in. 8 -10 weeks is the period of treatment.
Take a look in the resources section and read the guide to varroa. Better still, invest in the newly updated book.
I hope you have a copy of Matheson/Reid 'Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand'

The first year of beekeeping is an enormous learning curve. And its way easier to keep 2 hives than one.
There are ways to manage your honey harvest, but before that, get thru this winter.
 
24
23
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
No.
Next season is two treatments away.
Placing varroa strips now means you have a chance of a live & healthy colony in the spring. Its commonly advised a beginner beekeeper use conventional treatments for the first year or two, and to follow the label instructions.
You should not harvest honey from a hive with treatments in. 8 -10 weeks is the period of treatment.
Take a look in the resources section and read the guide to varroa. Better still, invest in the newly updated book.
I hope you have a copy of Matheson/Reid 'Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand'

The first year of beekeeping is an enormous learning curve. And its way easier to keep 2 hives than one.
There are ways to manage your honey harvest, but before that, get thru this winter.
Thanks Mummzie, yes I do have a copy of the book, and very informative it is. I guess I'm just a newbie trying to get through my first season. The bees are good natured and I'm sure will let me know if I'm doing something wrong like when I placed a feeder with the extraction scraps late in the day and thought I wouldn't bother with the smoker. They didn't take kindly to that and were a little peeved. I got stung through my glove sleeve.
Due to covid the local club hasn't been able to run its monthly meetings so am missing on advice from these meets.
 
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Mummzie

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Due to covid the local club hasn't been able to run its monthly meetings so am missing on advice from these meets.
Sad. Its the same for our club too. There is no replacement for face to face sharing of advice, from a local perspective.

Even the best natured bees loose their manners when there is open honey about, Especially when the older foragers are at home too. That's a lesson you won't forget.
Don't be scared to ask more.
 
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Josh

Gold
972
713
Christchurch
Experience
Hobbyist
Would a 3/4 brood box get through a super of honey over winter? And by placing Varroa treatment strips does this negate taking honey from it next season?

If I go for x2 brood boxes would I add a super on top or under present brood box? I only have wet extracted frames to add. But this will reduce my number of super boxes I have to add for next spring, I can see my apiary expanding?

The honey you save for them this winter, will be long gone next season.

The gear you need is quite typical. If you have 4 boxes (two brood and two spare for supers) then you probably need 6+ to allow for swarm control strategies, splits to replace losses and a boomer flow that catches you buy surprise, for the boxes of empty frames while you learn to to embed new foundation (what I’ve learnt from experience) Number of boxes have + 1 is the number you need. Having a 5 frame nuc or two is helpful too (small convenient way to carry frames to apiary, easy way to pull a nuc to your “out apiary” for swarm control/management)

Then add, queen excluder, bee escape, and top feeder per colony. You plan to have +1 for the extra colony you accidentally end up with (so a spare floor & roof).

It sounds intimidating, but you can spread these purchases over the year(s). If you have a great local store for gear, you can get it gradually. But if you’re like me, and work so you can’t get to the store, it pays to have this stuff in advance.

I think 2 is the best number of hives for a beginner beek. But, like me, you’ll find yourself with 4 and a random nuc you didn’t plan on having😅 after loosing all your hives bar 1 the previous season.

The hardest thing to find a a beek to put in your bubble. I find myself overthink, doubting or forgetting previously received when I’m on the thick of it. When you find one, ply them with their vices (beer, chocolate or whatever) and remember the same formula applies to boxes & colonies as number of opinions. You ask ( n ) beeks for an opinion you’ll get n+1 opinions (if you’re lucky)
 

tommy dave

Gold
BOP Club
225
258
mostly wellington, sometimes dunedin
Experience
Hobbyist
Learning as I go. Haven't done a full season yet and my single hive turned into two hives early on with me removing the queen as I had sone queen cells that had hatched. I'm running 3/4 boxes and single brood box. I put two supers on through the flow and have extracted a box off each then just took 1/2 out of the last remaining supers thinking to leave the remaining honey for their winter stock. I have more honey than I know what to do with so thought rather than feed sugar over winter I would let the bees have it.
I checked the hives today and both supers are full and there is some capped honey in the outer brood box frames. How much honey does a 3/4 single brood box need for winter? Is there a danger of them filling more frames in the brood box or should I replace some frames with wet empty frames?
i'm going to throw some general answers at this rather than asking the clarifying questions that would help, as a quick skim through the answers above suggests that most things have been addressed - hopefully of some use.
  1. a single 3/4 brood box is not enough and will result in swarm control difficulty in spring unless the hive is either a weak new split or is unhealthy - best to be able to prevent swarming without needing to split the hive. The ability to do this comes over time, but basically comes down to timing of appropriate space in the right parts of the hive.
  2. 2x3/4 boxes is a good brood area idea, and nothing wrong with running three boxes below an excluder either.
  3. how much honey a hive needs through winter is largely dependent on whether there is an ongoing trickle of a flow through that season, and correspondingly whether the queen basically stops laying (so fewer food resources required as not feeding developing larvae) or not. Related to this, spring is when the starvation risk is greatest, as the hive is building up in numbers and chewing through stores to do this if the incoming flow stalls either due to weather or due to the floral mix and season in your vicinity
  4. a box of honey left on is a good idea. Make sure there isn't an excluder in the way though, otherwise you can end up with a rare situation where the winter cluster has to choose between being next to food stores above the excluder, or next to the queen - they won't abandon the queen, and this can result in starving even with food on the hive.
  5. without more detail I'd do the following: overwinter as three 3/4 boxes (basically nine quarters, so largely the same as overwintering as eight quarters = two full depth boxes, which is very common). Put the box of wets back on, assuming that means extracted frames with the comb still intact, and put it in position two, between the boxes currently on the hive. That will address current available brood volume risk while giving space if flow is still coming in, which is still the case in at least some areas.
 
8,648
5,113
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
a box of honey left on is a good idea. Make sure there isn't an excluder in the way though, otherwise you can end up with a rare situation where the winter cluster has to choose between being next to food stores above the excluder, or next to the queen - they won't abandon the queen, and this can result in starving even with food on the hive.
thats never an issue in wellsford, auckland/northland is way to warm in winter for that to occur.
 

yesbut

Staff member
11,892
6,999
Nelson
Experience
Hobbyist
There are a heap of commercials who have found that out the hard way over the last couple of years....hobbyists don't have to worry about honey prices.
 
8,648
5,113
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
There are a heap of commercials who have found that out the hard way over the last couple of years....hobbyists don't have to worry about honey prices.
proper hobbyists don't worry about honey prices, but many "hobbyists" are up for sale or given up since honey prices tanked.
 
24
23
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
As a hobbyist and in my first season I am at the mercy of information overload and how best to care for my bees. I thank everyone for their experienced comments and expertise. You can understand my confusion when bombarded with so much and there is the danger of 'Holy kaka what do I do now'!
I have just reread a recently received newsletter from the local club. An extract re wintering hives.

"Some beekeepers like to leave their bees with a ¾ size super of honey on top of the brood box for extra food for the bees over winter, but this is not necessary. The advantages are you will not need to feed the bees as much sugar syrup over winter and there is more goodness in the honey than the sugar. The disadvantages are : the honey is collected while the varroa treatment is in place leaving a chemical residue in the honey - there is more lifting every time you need to check the hive - next season the bees will have to fill the ¾ super before they can fill other honey supers and so you will get less honey for yourself. I find by feeding the bees regularly, I do not lose any hives over winter because if I see a hive that hasn’t taken down all its sugar syrup, I know it is getting weak and needs attention. Whereas, when a honey super is left on a hive beekeepers tend not to check them regularly."

Sound comments.

As I have two hives I can try the single brood box and double brood box and see what happens. Both supers are presently full to the brim so if there is any more honey collecting it will be in the brood boxes.

My question at this conjecture is, will the supers be emptied completely and therefore I won't need to worry about honey that could be collected whilst treatment for varroa is being carried out? Or do these supers basically be for feeding only and not used at all for next season honey flow?
 


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