Sunday, July 10, 2011
LESSON 107: When And How To Add Supers In The Summer (www.honeybeesonline.com) 217-427-2678
Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois where the weather is hot and the bees are hard at work. We are David and Sheri Burns, beekeepers helping beekeepers.
As a note of correction and clarification from our last lesson, it takes 8 pounds of honey to produce 1 pound of wax.
In today’s lesson, I’ll walk us through some tips on when and how to place honey supers on the hive during the summer.
Remember to watch for Sheri in Country Woman magazine due out in the stands this week. Our queen rearing operation is featured in this edition of this national magazine (Aug/Sept edition). Or read a condensed version online.
Before we began today’s lesson on when and how to add honey supers in the summer, I would like to spotlight several items that we are proud to sell. Remember, when you buy from us you are helping us pay our bills, offer these free lessons and to be here for you tomorrow.
Since today’s lesson is about putting on honey supers, make sure you have enough supers ready for your honey harvest! Our 10 frame, rabbet joint honey super is fully assembled, painted and includes metal frame rests, 10 wooden frames and plastic foundation sprayed with beeswax. Click here to order yours now.
Queens! At the HAS meeting I heard that throughout the country the average production life of a queen is between 12-18 months. Make sure you have a new queen going into winter. I suggest queens be replaced between June 21 and early fall. A new queen will lay eggs that will become your overwintering bees. And a new queen is likely to have a stronger queen substance which might help reduce spring swarming. Click here to order a new queen ready to ship this week.
LESSON 107: When and How To Add Honey Supers In The Summer
Most beekeepers are hoping to take off some honey from their hives. Honey has become a precious commodity. Prices for raw honey have soared through the roof. In most places, beekeepers can name their price and sell all the honey they can produce.
I want to give you a few tips today on maximizing your honey production. This comes through these proper summer management techniques: 1) Strategically supering the hive 2) Mite and Disease control and 3) Maintaining a Prolific Queen.
In this lesson we’ll talk about strategically placing supers on the hive. A good practice is to over super (placing several honey supers on a hive) in late spring and early summer and to under super (limit the number of honey supers used) during late summer and early fall. Why?
Over super in late spring and early summer because studies have shown that the more supers are on the hive in the spring, the more the bees will be motivated to go out and forage. And two or more supers on will make sure you have plenty of room for a harvest. However, in late summer and early fall, it is best to reduce the number of supers because at this time of the season the bees are consolidating their resources in preparation for winter. They are likely to transfer honey from a super above down into the brood nest area.
How and when to add supers?
When 6-8 frames in the existing box on the hive has been drawn out (the bees have added wax, built comb and are using the comb) then add the next honey super.
How? The challenging aspect of adding a honey super is ensuring that the bees will draw out the comb on the frames. Some beekeepers have the luxury of adding already drawn comb, but most have to use undrawn foundation. A common mistake is to add a new, undrawn honey super on top of a queen excluder. This can be a mistake and slow or halt the progress of the bees from ever moving up into the honey super.
So when your second deep hive body has 6-8 frames drawn out, place your undrawn honey super on as follows:
1) Spray all frames with 1:1 sugar water containing honey-b-healthy (follow the label). Make sure the sugar water has covered the frames well and is slightly dripping down off the new frames in the honey super.
2) Leave the queen excluder off for now. Place the honey super on and wait a week. In one week, examine to see if the bees have worked their way up into the honey super. You will likely see some progress. Keep checking every 3-5 days and when you see that 2-3 frames have been started, you can now add your queen excluder, but check first to make sure she is not up on the frames in the honey super. If she is, pick her up by her wings and set her down between the frames in the top deep.
3) Place on the queen excluder with the cross-ribs facing down. Place several supers on if it is early to mid summer. Use minimal supers if it is late summer to early fall.
It is better to have too many supers on than not enough. However, if you see lots of small hive beetles in your hive, you may not want to over super as this will provide extra and unprotected space where the bees are not monitoring, giving freedom for SHB to spread.
TOP SUPERING OR BOTTOM SUPERING
This terminology refers to adding a new super on top of an existing super or under the existing super. In other words, when your first super is almost full of nectar, should you add your second honey super below that super or above it.
This is a matter of opinion. Some bottom super because they feel the bees will have to walk through the new super to reach the one they were working. And while passing through the new one they will stop and pull out the wax. Others, like me, want a honey barrier and so we will use our first full honey super to serve as a honey barrier. By honey barrier I am referring to the limitations placed on the queen because she will not lay eggs in a cell which has honey in it. The queen is only looking for empty cells to lay eggs. When she reaches stored honey on the outer edges of the brood nest area, she will return to the area of opened cells.
I leave the super just above the brood nest area full of nectar to hold down the queen and therefore I do not have to use a queen excluder. I place my new super on top of my nearly full super. This is known as top supering.
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