Bee Keeping here I come!


The Iowa State Fair is in it’s death throws for 2017, golden rod is starting to bloom, that means…time to harvest your honey!! I’ve seen colonies stacked to the sky here, hope they’re full.
Things to do at home.
Clean out the extractor, make sure your honey buckets are clean too.
Order containers.
Scrub out the honey house, make sure the fans and vent work and are bee tight.
Wash your bee suit. Inspect gloves and veil for holes or rots. Bees will be angry and will find the weak spots.
Make sure your wax melting and staining equipment work.
Things to do at the beeyard.
I always would go out a day or two before I pulled honey and pop all the supers apart so the bees would cleanup the broken burr comb. That will eliminate loose honey and some of the robbing and stinging behavior that loose honey starts
Take an empty super along to put excess frames in.
Cut weeds and eliminate tripping hazards.
Make sure the truck has good tires and gas.
Duplicate the handtools that you’ll work the bees with. Have plenty of smoker fuel.
Take damp towels to cover every stack of supers to keep the honey clean and eliminate robbing.
Lift with your legs not your back.
Take food and plenty to drink. Harvesting honey is hot, heavy work.
I’ll think of more, add your ideas too!


That is a great list. Wish I had used it when I was an active beekeeper.


One of the many things I blew by not signing on for a month is that I let my friend Chikn down…Sorry about that @Chikn! You’ve always been very helpful too many and have never asked for anything in return except one tiny favor and I let you down!

Anyway, Phil had just asked me to upload a couple photos he had so here they are. This, to me, is an amazing example of a healthy hive frame. THey are his photos, I’m just the “tech” guy doing him a small favor.



Quick Question for my bee keeping friends (and you too, chikn. haha).

I pulled one completely full and capped frame of honey yesterday because I’m going to start feeding lots of sugar syrup now. Let me say that I know I should have harvested AND started feeding long before now, but I am where I am…so back to my question…

THe frame of good honey that I pulled is actually going to be about all the extra honey I feel safe in taking away from that hive, so I really can’t go back for more even if I wasn’t going to be giving so much sugar-water syrup.

My question is pretty simple… Can I just keep my capped frame full of honey just like it is for days, weeks, or even months, or does it need to be extracted right away?

I’ve read that honey stores well in its own capped comb still on the frame for a long time. But I’ve also read that honey is prone to taking on water from the atmosphere and may ferment. So I’m confused. I’d like to keep it in its current state so I can take it home and show my family on Thanksgiving, but not if its going to cost me the honey! what say you all? Thanks


This is opinions that I have never tried. Wrap the frame lightly with wax paper then put the whole frame into a plastic bag. Stick the whole frame into the freezer but make sure it is in an upright position. Pretty sure it will last this way and also kill any wax moth eggs/larva. It also might be as simple as carefully storing the frame in a sealed plastic bag. Bill


Yup, Bill’s right!
Honey will store well as long as it’s protected from moisture. If comb honey ferments and starts to sweat, you probably will lose it if you don’t use it quickly. Don’t refrigerate honey, it will sugar. either store it frozen or room temp away from water.
End of October and you are starting to feed? Sorry, but I’d pull all the honey now. The bees can’t process the feed fast enough to make it through the winter because of the temps. Save your money and what’s left off your sanity.:wink:


Depends on where you are. I’ve fed a colony a gallon of syrup to get them through to mid February at which point they are able to take syrup and build up for spring. I generally don’t recommend doing this unless the colony occupies at least 3 frames when not clustered. It is always better to heed Farrar’s advice and take your losses in the fall.


I don’t know a Mr/Ms. Farrar, but I’ve been of the opinion for 20 yrs. to steal all the honey and let them protect the comb from wax moths until a hard frost then dump them on the ground, store your equipment, and put new nucs in in the spring. Fresh queen and new spring bees gets colonies going quick w/o massive mite or disease loads, saves on meds too!
Anymore, wintering bees is a nonprofit operation and if you know commercial beeks that winter in California, you can easily slap together 1-100 nucs in a few hours.


I’m sorry…I should have been more clear. I actually fed for a while and then stopped and then got worried I didn’t feed enough so I started back. Also, whether it was from my own early feeding or bees collecting from actual flowers, my 4 box hive has almost 2 boxes completely full of honey, and from what I’ve read that seems like it may get them thru winter. And on warm days I’ll feed more if needed. We actually get quite a few days about 50 degrees here all through the winter.

I know you’re of the opinion that it makes more sense to just collect all honey and start over with new bees each spring, but that just makes it so expensive for me. I have to pay about $150 for nucs here, so I’d have to spend $300 every spring. I don’t sell honey and to be honest I don’t even use a lot of honey, so spending $300 on my 2 hives every year just seems expensive. Of course, I’ve also never bought meds for my winter hives so I’ve never had much expense from trying to overwinter. I just think of all the honey I could just buy for $300 and it makes my hives seem like a huge cost. Of course the goal is polination, but I’m not even sure I get $300 worth of benefit from polination of my trees. I always got pretty good polination before I started keeping bees and when I look in my trees I see more mason bees and bumble bees than honey bees even now that I have bees.

You know I’m new to all this, though. I might be missing something here? Thanks all.


Good luck overwintering your bees. Prices for spring replacement bees have escalated since I kept bees. I would always overwinter my bees in either two deep chambers or a deep plus a super on top. If they were heavy at this time of the year it was rare that I had to supplement their food in early spring. The most critical time for starvation is early spring while they are rapidly expanding the bee population. Keep a close check on the hive weight at that time. Rarely did I have a hive starve with this method. Someone else could better advise about Med needs. Hope they survive. Bill


Well I took most of my honey today, I’ve got 19 medium super frames ready to be extracted. Not a very fun job, I got stung through my gloves several times on both wrists and a number of times just above where the good Lord split me. I’m sure it was less fun for the bees however. I left the deep super alone, I didn’t see much capped honey down there. Gave them some sugar, though I’m sure they have no chance to make it through a Minnesota winter. I’ll probably check the hive around Christmas and harvest any leftover honey the old school way (funnel and strainer). This was only my second year of doing bee’s. Their numbers were much higher this fall than last fall. I was surprised being I lost half of them this year in June to swarming, must have been a good queen. . .


Well, my bees are dead and it isn’t even winter yet. I think it was mostly my fault. After my son took the third super off and put them all into two supers I didn’t close down the entrance and I had noticed a lot of yellow jackets around the entrance when I was putting on sugar syrup. I’m pretty sure they killed enough bees that they couldn’t survive. They had swarmed this summer so it wasn’t a nice full hive like I had last year. Will have to buy another nuc or maybe the swarm from my hive will survive. Will need some for pollination next spring.

My son was on the top of a 16’ extension ladder up a pine tree to get the swarm from mine and he has it at his house in only one super. They might make it in one box if we have a milder winter.


if there is honey still in the boxes, combine frames into a single box, then take it to your son’s hive and give it to them.


Great idea, I hadn’t thought about doing that now. Was going to use it in the spring. Thank you


WHen you say you should have closed down the entrance, please clarify. Should I put my reducers across the entrance of my hives for winter?

I didn’t do that last year, which may be part of why I lost all my bees. I also didn’t put the plastic board across the very, very bottom of my hives last year. I will this year. But when I told our local bK club that I had failed to do that last year, I was surprised to hear the people I trust say they doubted that had much to do with me loosing my bees. Some of them don’t even use those bottom boards for winter. They said further north they are important, but here in TN they don’t think they are critical. Hmmm???

Anyway, I had never heard to close entrances during winter, so please let me know if I should do that? Thanks.


Your loss of bees was a failure to requeen after the swarm. Yellowjackets can’t/won’t rob a healthy, queenright colony. If the bees swarmed after June, the swarm will not have enough time to build up population to collect stores and build overwintering bees. Old beekeepers saying,“Swarm in May, worth a load of hay, swarm in June, worth a silver spoon, swarm in July, not worth a fly.” Save any stores for your nuc in the spring.

You don’t close entrances, you reduce them. Even after taking all the honey and leaving open screened bottoms in Iowa, 25% of colonies still survived. Cold doesn’t kill bees, winter moisture does!


I should have said reduce not close. They did have queen cells and had a new queen within a few weeks.


OK, thanks to you both. I also appreciate what you said about the open screened bottoms probably not being a killer, especially here in TN. Thats what I’d been told and I’m glad to get it confirmed. I cursed myself all summer because I felt like I killed my bees by not putting that board on the bottom last year. Nice to know something else probably did it! (Of course it was still probably my fault! ha).

I have reducers so it sounds like I should put them on


I know by now lots of people are planning to add on colonies which means more boxes and frames. Wanted to mention a nail gun & stapler can be a handy thing if your putting together a bunch of equipment. It’s all been said before If your feeling ambitious and tired of paying shipping on hives you can use a beehive as a template and make your own boxes and and and It’s winter time which is a perfect time to build boxes and get ready for spring!


Especially if you have a nice, new, big barn!