No honey in supers – should I worry?
2nd June 2020 at 10:29 pm #3076
We’re new beekeepers and have brought our colony through it’s first winter.
Although there is capped honey in the brood box, there’s practically no honey at all in the super. The super was put on in the last week of April. I understand from our last Zoom meeting and the WBKA magazine that others have had supers full of honey, due to the nice weather.
Is there anything potentially wrong or do I just need to be patient?
The background is: They’ve built up in numbers and now cover 9 frames of the brood box. Only small numbers have gone through the QE into the super.
They seem quite active going in and out of the entrance. Their temperament is very gentle and there are no signs of swarming (yet).
Paul and Cindy
3rd June 2020 at 10:38 am #3078Gary TParticipant
Hi Paul and Cindy,
I suggest we await for some of the more experienced members to reply with a more detailed answer but my experience this year year has been one hive has produced 2 supers bursting with honey – we extracted about 34lbs a few days ago.
The other hive has….some honey across both supers but nothing really ready for extraction yet. The two hives are about 1.5m apart.
My guess would be you just need to be a bit more patient – although if there is a June gap in your area then the bees might use up the honey they have collected to date!
3rd June 2020 at 1:05 pm #3080Gary ThomasKeymaster
Some colonies will do very well and some will struggle just finding enough forage to keep going.
It can depend on your area and what is available at the time. That does vary greatly.
A colony needs to have enough bees to spare to go out scouting for new sources and bring it home.
nother variable, and don’t want to worry you here, is that the colony in question might be struggling for other reasons – – – queen not laying sufficiently or health problems (Nosema for example).
So many variables.
But the most important thing to remember is to check to see if they have enough stores until your next inspection. If there is a ‘June Gap’ or inclement weather the colony can starve quickly if they have no reserves. So it is very important to ‘heft’ your brood box (take the roof off first) or visually check the brood frames to see if they have stores. Note that if there is a gap the queen can often go ‘off lay’ for a while until there is another flow. This is sometimes misinterpreted as a missing queen (no eggs or queen seen). But she will pick up as soon as the flow starts.
Hope that helps.
3rd June 2020 at 2:06 pm #3082ChrisParticipant
As Tim says, many variables! If it is 9 frames now then it sounds as if it was a fairly small colony at the start of the season which might be why they are as they are now with honey just downstairs. As long as there is food in the brood box then no problem. Is it new foundation in the super? Sometimes they can take a while to go up and draw that out and only do so when they have built up numbers and there is a good flow on.
Hopefully they will get out and about and fill your super with lovely summer honey. The ‘June gap’ is looking to be short lived. Certainly here in Long Compton there is plenty out in flower now. We just need the sunshine to return after a little rain! I hope that helps
3rd June 2020 at 3:13 pm #3085David JonesParticipant
If there is anyone experienced near to you who would offer take a physically-distanced look at the colony, I’d take them up on it. This year of all years, I think an overwintered colony that has not built up during (April and) May implies something might be wrong, especially if they had access to OSR
3rd June 2020 at 6:31 pm #3094
Thanks for all the replies.
As Chris says, I think we got through the winter with quite a small colony and are still building up numbers. Yes, the supers are mainly new foundation, with a couple of frames of partly drawn comb from last year. So there is work for them to do before filling with stored honey.
I will continue inspecting through the ‘June gap’ to ensure they have enough stores, and then hope to see something in the supers in the summer.
Regarding health problems, I haven’t seen any anything, but I don’t think I would be able to identify Nosema. Let’s hope for the best on that front.
Paul and Cindy
23rd June 2020 at 11:02 am #3144
Just as a follow up to this message, the bees are now starting to draw out comb in the super and store some honey 🙂
They only started doing this after I removed the queen excluder about 8 days ago.
Paul and Cindy
30th June 2020 at 2:51 pm #3161
Thanks David, I’ve just put the queen excluder back on, so hopefully she won’t be wondering around ‘upstairs’!
Paul and Cindy
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