This might be your best option at this point. I think the issues your running into are part of the typical learning curve. This harvest season is about over but you need a simple plan for next year that considers that you are a one or two hive operation. Keep it simple as possible at this stage until you gain more detailed knowledge of beekeeping. If your going to over winter your bees it is important that they have enough honey remaining in the hive to prevent starvation as brood rearing ramps up prior to the next year honey flow. If brood rearing is strong they can pack in a lot of nectar/honey at the peak time it is available. Sorry about wondering off from your question but with beekeeping the key is thinking about what the colony’s next needs are.
Long term consider an extractor like this one https://www.dadant.com/catalog/m00385-economy-stainless-steel-extractor-imported. I like to decap the frames, extract the honey, and get the box back on the hive to fill up in the same afternoon. During a nectar flow not having an extractor can cost you a box of honey. Figure the cost of honey and the cost of an extractor and it makes sense. If extractor cost is a big factor for anyone reading this consider extractors start out around $100 https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_12/152-9654767-1287743?k=honey+extractor&sprefix=honey+extrac. I get 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 gallons of honey from a super. Bees use at least 6 times the amount of honey making that much wax. Not extracting honey effectively costs you 18 gallons of honey per super in a year If they make one box of honey from foundation. Add that up times number of hives! $100 extractor pays for itself very quickly. The first year is the worst year because your bees need to make wax. Remember wax moths are the enemy when storing supers!
@Auburn - More great information, thanks. I’ve really been torn over the issue of whether to try and winter my bees or not. I value @Chikn 's advice highly and he suggests I just take my honey and start over, and I’d pretty much planned to do that. but now that I’ve sort of lost my chance to borrow a centrifuge and I’m finding out how hard it is to harvest by hand, and since (believe it or not) I actually use very, very little honey myself, I might just make do with what I just harvested and just leave my bees in there with whatever honey is left (approximately 8 frames full I’d guess). I’m not going to put any serious work or even feed over the winter, and using phil’s logic I’m not going to be very disappointed if my hive dies out over the winter and I have to start over. Remember, I already have one empty hive so I know I’m going to have to buy at least one package anyway. I also hope to do some more reading over the winter so I won’t be so totally ignorant about bee keeping.
@clarkinks, that was great info as well. I had no idea you could buy an extractor for under $150 so I’m gona seriously look into that. I certainly don’t need much of one with only 2 hives, and honestly- even though I’ve really been enjoying bee keeping- I doubt I’ll ever want more than 2 hives.
I also loved hearing your estimated yield. But I’m not sure I can break that down to frames and I really wish I could since I just harvested my first full frame and am very curious about whether I got a lot or a little for my frame.
I got 1.5 quarts of honey out of the one frame. It was a standard size. I think I wasted a fair bit, too. Any idea if that is a lot, a little, or about average? If you get 2.5 gallons per box, I THINK that would mean 2.5 gallon x 4 quarts per gallon = 10 quarts per box. Right? ANd if you have 10 frames per box, then you are getting about 1 quart per frame. Right? If so, my 1.5 quarts from my 1 frame was a really good yield??? Am I doing that right?
Depending on the depth of your box and how many frames are in the box your yields will be effected.
Shallow super = 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 gallons.
Medium super = 3 - 4 gallons.
Full box = 5 - 6 gallons.
Most beekeepers ( at least me) like to use 9 frames instead of 10 because they are easier to uncap like that. Your analogy of how to calculate per frame amount is correct. I learned to do it because when I kept a lot more hives I needed to think what sized container could hold the honey. When someone wants 55 gallons for example it will take roughly 10 full size boxes. I use shallow supers or mediums because they are much easier to work with than full size boxes. Assuming your using 10 frame hives this works fine but I use some 8 frame hives as well which changes things slightly.
Thanks Clark. I don’t know what my boxes are but they hold 10 frames. I also know that some people use a deeper box on the bottom but mine are all the same size. SO they are either shallow or medium I guess- since I know there are bigger boxes that some people use.
55 gallons? Good Lord. That seems like more honey than a whole army could use in a month! Then again, there is a place not far from where I live that often sells empty 250 gallon containers with wire cages around them, and they all originally come full of honey and they have dozens for sale each week. No idea what they do with all that honey, but I’d think they must be the biggest honey user in the world!!! haha. I guess not!
Thanks again for all your help. I’ll try not to keep bugging you and bill and phil until I really need some help/info again. Thanks!
Nowadays I keep 5 -6 hives for pollination. Honey production has not been my goal for a number of years. My grandpa had tricks he taught me I enjoy passing on. He beat on pans to bring down swarms and many people who witnessed it said it was effective. He faced his bees to the east so the Sun would wake them up early so they would make more honey. Last week I thought of him when a honey bee was pulling nectar from red clover because typically red clover flowers are to deep for honey bees to get nectar from. Many things about the world around us we don’t understand. I asked a well digger once why a spring on my place started running water this time of year and he said I don’t know why but springs always run more in the fall in this area. I suspect gravitational pull is different. Perhaps the changes that make water run stronger has influence over nectar in the clover flowers.
@clarkinks, I like you more all the time. I, too, am fascinated by nature and how it can do things better than man in so many cases but in many cases is functions beyond our understanding (like your well). With all our technology, education, etc, we still can’t create our own honey (at least not nearly as tasty and beneficial as the real stuff).
Thanks again for the great bee advice. And BTW…the first advice you ever gave me was your grand-dad’s suggestion of facing hives east so they get to work earlier than they otherwise might. I took that advice and to this day my hives get the first sunshine of the day!
I always figured 4-5 gal. out of a full 9 plastic frame medium.
City, once you have 10 frames in your honey supers drawn, spread 9 of them out in a box and put that on the bees, one less frame to handle for the same honey. Use the 10th drawn comb to start a new box of ten frames and foundation.
Pull all your honey now and use it for feed on your new bees in the spring.
On your reading, “There is either do or do not, there is no try” Yoda.
5 gallons + is what I get from a big box. 6 5/8 box right?
Yes we don’t get 5 gallons out of those 6 5/8" boxes. I wonder why there is so much difference. Even a really great extractor would not make more that a quarts worth of difference I bet.
We get that on the plastic frames with the small top frame, Can’t remember the name now.
We used a big 40 frame Dadant 50YO radial extractor. That sucker will really spin the frames dry.
My supers are ponderosa pine and came from western bee.
Western bee is Dadant. They bought them several years ago.
Yep I like them a lot. They sent me a pallet load of hives 15 years ago by truck to Kansas City. Since they found a short loaded semi it saved me a bundle on shipping. They are a good company. I had to go get the pallet of hives. They are in Montana so shipping is expensive.
Shipping kills on wooden ware. The company in N. Minn. has free shipping but they don’t grade wood in the traditional way and you have to watch what you buy.
Budget grade or commercial? Budgets can be pretty rough. I’ve learned to use a staple gun to put the boxes together. It takes time to use nails!
What Dadant grades budget, they grade commercial. Etc.
Budget boxes can be hard to forget! I’ve got excellent looking budget boxes from westernbee but then I’ve got ones so rough it took me twice as long to assemble them. If your going to put in 20 full size hives with 3 medium supers per hive budget boxes can be a good way to go. Wood can get very expensive fast!