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Honey Harvest, How much do we take, How much do we leave.


As we come upon harvest time of the year, the farmers are preparing to take their crops off of the fields, Green houses are preparing seed beds for the next springs plants. There is always a lot to do.


The beekeepers (who are considered farmers by USDA) have a lot to do during harvest time. Some of us wait until this time of the year to harvest our honey. So the question always comes up how much honey do we take and how much honey do we leave for the winter stores. Rule of thumb suggests a 1:1 ratio of honey frames to brood frames. It never hurts to leave more to ensure that there is enough to get the bees through the winter.


Okay I see the hecklers are back again. Who keeps letting them in? Okay you have a valid point this time, maybe, you say how can I sell my honey if I don't take enough to sell to cover my costs. Well as a small business person, yes small business is what I said, you may have started as a hobbyist but soon your hobby turned in to a small business without you recognizing it. When you are thinking how can I cover my cost with the sale of honey you became a small business person.


You say I want to infuse my honey because it tastes so good that way. Ye sit may but now you are in a different league all you own.


Here is the link to VDACS website to the cottage laws of Virginia. https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/kitchenbillfaq.pdf


This website will tell you all you need to know about the processing requirements all the way down to labeling requirements for your products including just plain honey to sell. Good luck and happy reading of those Virginia Cottage Laws.


Now back to the original topic, If you are a beginner in this hobby/small business there are things that you need to know about taking honey. There are products that "make it easier" to take your honey but over use of these can be detrimental to the hive. For instance the product Honey-B-Gone for fume boards, Bee Dun, Bee Go.. There are up sides to it when used correctly and big time down sides to it when used incorrectly. I am sure that beekeepers everywhere have had great luck with the Honey-B-Gone product on fume boards, again i go back to my previous statement on being detrimental to the hive. When fume boards are placed on the supers did you know that more is not better? It could cause all the bees to leave the hive when used incorrectly. Bee Dun can cause the same result, Bee Go can produce the same results. Here I go back to the last BLOG about Bee Clubs. I am sure that there are beekeepers in those clubs that have used these product and had great results. Those are the individuals that you want to have discussions with. They can set you on the right path with correct usage of these products and what worked for them. Sometimes new beekeepers need the guidance of an experienced PRO. Personally we have never used any of these products. Never use these products in any manner contrary to the advise of the PRO beekeeper or the directions that are printed on the containers, which if you do then you are going to bee minus your bees.


In taking your honey if you use 2 deep brood boxes each frame of deep is 1.5 medium frames. So instead of 2 honey supers you will need to leave 3 honey supers on the hive. Makes sense do the math. So you will now have a hive that is two deep and three mediums tall but, remember this, in the spring you will now have space available to start the nectar flow with and you should also have some strong spring bees. You can verify you available honey space with you spring checks and don't forget to put on your queen excluder during the early spring check as well, or you might have honey supers full of brood.


USDA Guidelines are now recommending that you put all the honey supers on at one time. Well my fellow beekeepers that is a huge mistake. if you do that the bees will fill the middle frames all the way up and the outsides will not be anything but very little bits of drawn comb if any at all. You are also inviting wax moths into your hive.


Well time for me to climb down from the little soap box in the store and get back to making beekeepers happy around the Shenandoah Valley and Northern VA.


Remember election day is 6 days out. Exercise your right to vote. NOVEMBER 3rd.



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