This means that, now with the 2nd box over 60% full, we have to make some decisions about how we are going to plan for winter. Doesn’t seem to write about winter when it feels like summer has barely started.
Beekeepers in northern climates face difficulties with overwintering bees. A healthy hive needs about 70 pounds of honey to eat throughout the winter. They can have 70 pounds in just two boxes, but if the winter is exceptionally long, it may not be enough. The thought is by adding a third box adds more honey to the hive, and will be an extra insurance policy against the winter. However, adding this third box will delay when the bees start producing harvest-able honey (i.e. honey without brood or pollen near it). So, if we were to add a third box, we might not get honey at all this year, so a very small amount., but the bees will be more likely to survive the winter.
Beekeepers will try to overwinter bees because a hive in its second summer will produce more honey than a hive in its first year., because the hive will be more populated in the beginning and will not have to spend time building up the brood boxes like they have been doing this year.
But in recent years, due to declining honey bee health the chances of overwintering your hive successfully has become more and more difficult. In fact, commercial beekeepers face nearly 60% losses over the winter. So, is it worth it to delay honey harvesting to try to keep bees alive, who are more likely than not to not survive?
Ultimately, we decided to only have two boxes on the hive, and give them the opportunity to make harvest-able honey. But since our bees are so well tempered, we are going to try to get them through the winter with just two boxes.
There have been other beekeepers in the North who have had some success with this. If our bees do not have enough honey in their two boxes, we will be able to use frames from other hives to help “pad the numbers”, so to speak.
Each time we go to look at the hives, the bees continue to amaze our Queen Bee, and we just can’t wait to get back.
Check out our Queen Bees Facebook page for photos!