Springtime and Extra Honey

by Mary Fugate
(Haywood Co.Clyde NC)

Do I need to remove leftover winter honey in my hives?

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Hi Mary,

If you're referring to honey that your bees stored in combs last season, and didn't use this winter, then no - there's no need to remove that honey.

You can leave it and the bees will eventually use it if they need it. Or you can harvest it along with this seasons crop - always making sure, of course, that you're leaving the bees enough honey for the winter.

You do want to be sure, though, that the brood nest of the bees is not 'honey bound.' (And this may be what you're asking me.)

Queens are hesitant to cross over large areas of capped honey. So what can sometimes happen is that the brood nest becomes restricted under the stores of honey, even though there may be empty comb or foundation above the honey. When that situation develops, the bees are much more likely to swarm.

If that's you're situation, then you can relieve the congestion by adding comb or foundation on top of the brood nest, and under the honey stores.

But whenever you're manipulating the brood nest, take care not re-arrange it any more than necessary. Think of the brood nest as a large sphere, like a basketball, and keep that sphere intact - especially when nights are still cool.

Sometimes you might need to make manipulations that shave a bit off the side of the brood nest, or a bit off the top or the bottom. But always try to avoid manipulations that removes a major portion of the sphere, like separating the top half from the bottom half.

Hope this answered your question - and was clear enough to understand :)

Good luck!

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