Adding honey supers ad infinitum

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user 20297

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Is there a benefit in increased honey production by restricting activity to regularly adding empty boxes to the top of the stack during the summer flow?
Since I don't mind the hassle of repeated extractions, I tend to remove capped boxes from just above the brood-nest as they fill. The extracted box is then put back on top.
Would it make much difference if I avoided that disturbance of the bees? Tall hives look good but aren't very practical.
 
How many supers is down to colony strength, forage flow and internal ripening/processing. Simply if they need the room to store nectar and process it then they need the supers. Extra room early in the season is an aid to reduce swarming and should a strong flow occur tow supers can practically look full in a week.

Extra empty suppers also gives the bees much need space if the colony is large busy one.

Everyone has thier own technique /system in dealing with supers , some will shake and extract uncapped combs , others may Brix test the combs .
I tend to wait until 90% of the comb is sealed and can see them starting to seal the rest over.
 
Tall hives look good but aren't very practical.
Soon after I began my Beekeeping journey, my tutor and guide (Albert Lewis) showed me an old black and white photograph of him in his apiary. He was standing next to a WBC hive that towered above him. I mean TOWERED!

The top of the hive was very nearly twice Albert's height. The weight appeared to be supported by bricks and timber under the base and there were several long lengths of timber jammed against the hive to support it and stop it falling over.

Albert did tell me how many lifts there were and how much honey he took off but I've been to sleep since then and can no longer remember these details. He explained that there was a very prolific Queen so there were at least two (it might even have been three) brood boxes.

There was a large wooden stepladder leaning up against the hedge behind the hives. Albert told me that he needed help once he had started using the step ladder to dismantle the hive.

Apparently the tall hive was an experiment by the somewhat younger Albert to see just how much honey a hive can produce. Again, he told me how much honey he drew from that particular hive but I don't remember the figures any longer. I do recall that it was a staggering amount with almost every shallow being completely full.

(I think the usual warnings should apply - Don't try this at home! ha ha.)
 
not everyone has the luxury of dropping everything and spending a day extracting. It's OK if you have a dedicated honey extraction room which I suppose you have?
Also, by the sounds of the regular hand wringing about bees bearding at night, people tend to forget that bees need space to ripen the honey, not just store it.
To be honest, if I had a colony that seemed happy with just a couple of supers on I'd be looking at requeening them.
 
It’s not just extracting as they fill though. The nest is expanding till around now and the bees need the space to sleep and to ripen honey.
 
Personally I don't think tall hives look that good. I do find them practical as I try to minimise the number of extraction sessions I do in a season. However, it can be awkward taking down a stack to inspect.

As for adding empty boxes to the top of the stack, that doesn't make sense to me. @Finman (wherever he is) and I'm sure others have pointed out that bees fill from the top down. So the most logical place to put empty shallows is at the bottom of the stack, directly above the brood, otherwise you're working against the bees. It also makes them move the nectar further which probably reduces the yield.
 
The only reason I have seven supers is because they need them, if the honey is sealed it comes off. When a colony is going to produce some 200 - 250lbs excess honey two or three supers aren't going to cut it as the forage incoming is rapid.
A double brood National ( deep) with a nice good Q will provide copious brood and bees, they need somewhere to go to avoid congestion as already mentioned and room to move the honey around and ripen it.

I remember when I first started mentors and the like at the apiary (LBKA/BBKA) all would say 40lbs /50lbs p.a and that would be a good colony , but often I heard of lots of swarming , bees only need one box and then this ,that and the other.

I was donated my first colony late May the year I began and like many of us remember making many, many mistakes , though do remember dispite them I took off 60lbs that first year.

Though one does need good forage and location is quite important for good hauls
 
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Bees will fill supers no matter where they are put top, middle or bottom, if that were the case then no one has spoken to mine and told them not to fill them if not directly above the BB.
Humid ,warm and over cast with full cloud , if it carries on like this all week the limes will be visited often.
 
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How many supers is down to colony strength, forage flow and internal ripening/processing. Simply if they need the room to store nectar and process it then they need the supers. Extra room early in the season is an aid to reduce swarming and should a strong flow occur tow supers can practically look full in a week.

Extra empty suppers also gives the bees much need space if the colony is large busy one.

Everyone has thier own technique /system in dealing with supers , some will shake and extract uncapped combs , others may Brix test the combs .
I tend to wait until 90% of the comb is sealed and can see them starting to seal the rest over.
That's roughly the way I've approached it. Most of other people's hives that I've seen locally have been compact in comparison with mine. I'm always well ahead with space and have only had one out of ten colonies attempting to swarm.....so it works. But it requires a lot of boxes and although I think I have a lot of equipment for a newish beekeeper, in proportion the number of colonies, it never seems enough.
 
Personally I don't think tall hives look that good. I do find them practical as I try to minimise the number of extraction sessions I do in a season. However, it can be awkward taking down a stack to inspect.

As for adding empty boxes to the top of the stack, that doesn't make sense to me. @Finman (wherever he is) and I'm sure others have pointed out that bees fill from the top down. So the most logical place to put empty shallows is at the bottom of the stack, directly above the brood, otherwise you're working against the bees. It also makes them move the nectar further which probably reduces the yield.
In describing tall as "good" I mean that in the same way in that having a big car is seen by some people as a display of success. ;)
It sems fair enough that people like to post images or describe the immensity of their stacks of bee-boxes because a lot of boxes might mean that you'll get a lot of honey. The size of your honey-harvest, either from individual hives or as a total output seems like a socially acceptable boast in bee-world.
 
extract and return, rather than shifting 5 full supers to inspect.
Trying that method this year as I have come to dread the mountain of work in August, and because I dread it there are usually boxes waiting in November.

Worked for me so far; agreed, it's more work to extract but as I take away finished boxes when doing routine checks, it's two jobs in one. Agree with JBM: dedicated storage and an extraction room is almost essential, but often I take the extractor to distant sites, rather than use fuel to drag full boxes 40 miles back to London.
 

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