Went into my bees yesterday. SHB traps (3 West, 1 Freeman) were slam full of beetles. When I lifted the outer cover off hive #1, SHB ran in every direction and my hive tool was very busy for a bit. Once they were all dead, I took off the inner cover to find that once again they had built comb from the top bar of the box below up toward the inner cover inside the hive top ventilator! The comb was partially filled with honey which tasted wonderful and different from what I usually harvest. Anyway, I removed the top hive ventilator (from all the hives) and removed this comb. Top box was packed with honey. Now, I have been taught that too much honey during the winter is not good because at will cause them to fill all the comb in the brood box at which point the bees have no empty cells to winter in and the queen has no room to lay up until first frost/freeze. So I removed 5 frames of honey, giving them 5 empty frames of drawn comb to work on (lots of nectar still out there around here. .especially goldenrod!). The second hive was the same only not so many SHB but also not as strong a hive. I took 5 frames from them as well. So now I had a full box of uncapped honey which I intended to freeze for use when needed. Hive #3 is doing okay, but just an average hive. They need more stores, but I'm sure they'll get it filled (I'll check back later though). The last hive was average as well. Then I noticed, There were only 3 shallows on this hive! So I gave them the box of honey on top.
I should state that all four boxes had two boxes of nice, tight brood. I saw no drones except for some drone cells in the honey box on #1. . .really large cells on a foundationless frame. Wonderful disposition on all four hives.
Anyway, what I'm asking is, is it okay what I did with the honey stores?
I'm no expert, but the next time you pull out frames of honey to freeze and store, I think you should wait til the honey is capped. Otherwise it's open cells full of nectar.
I don't think there is any danger of a hive having "too much honey for the winter" unless maybe you are talking about leaving 3 or more extra supers full of honey on top of 2 full deep brood boxes for the winter.
I always assume the bees know more than I do about what they need and where they need it for the winter. My plan is to stop doing any box or frame swapping by the end of September in order to allow the bees at least a month to correct the mistakes I make. ;D
It's 'tough love' for the bees here at Wayward Girl Apiary.
Thanks, Omie. I sat in on a Brushy Mountain Webinar the other night wherein it was stated that if the bees fill their super with honey and have nowhere else to put it, they'll start putting it in the brood boxes, but that the bees need empty cells in the brood boxes for the bees to snuggle into over the winter! I had never heard it before either, and had never worried about too much honey, but now, in combination with SHB (I'm having a real problem with them), I don't like the idea of having more than one honey super on the hive for the girls to protect/heat at one time. Too, the queens are still laying like crazy and I'm afraid they'll backfill and leave her nowhere to lay. I'd like to have her keep laying up until first frost. . .the more the merrier, and stronger the hive!
Thanks for the advice about not freezing uncapped honey. I was wondering about that, but thought I'd try it. . .lucky it worked out that the other hive needed it!
Normally, this would be my final "entry" into the hives for the year. But they still are foraging like crazy, bringing in both pollen and nectar, and I have a feeling the two strong ones will be overflowing again by the end of October. Normally, from now on I merely "heft" them to make sure they have enough stores, but with the info from Brushy Mountain and SHB, I may be going in again. I am like you, however. I beelieve that the girls know better what they want/need than I do and I try to do what they want. . .sometimes I just don't understand "bee."
bees naturally begin to pull honey down from above and back fill the brood nest to shut the queen down for the winter months. you dont want the cluster wintering on empty cells if there is a cold snap this is when bees will cold starve just inches from stores. As the winter progresses they will consume stores freeing up room for the queen to start laying again. once she starts laying the bees start to consume stores at a faster rate freeing up more room for the queen to lay. Most hives that starve dont do starve in the early winter its late winter early spring when they blow thru there stores. I would personally have left the stores in the hive for the bees but thats just my opinion
That's not the first thing Steve Forrest has said that I think is totally off the wall. He has some great knowledge, but some very questionable ideas, also. The bees will quit working when they have what they want, which is a full honey and pollen area around and above the brood nest.
What you did was fine, and I think freezing uncapped honey would be ok, too, but freezing capped would be better. You should be able to find enough capped frames to do what you want to do.