I searched the internet to find an answer for the question, “How to work out if bees have enough stored honey for winter”. It seems right off the bat; Bee keepers from different parts of the world have different ideas. A quote from North Wales reads,” Check the weight of the hive by hefting, lifting one side from the stand. The hive should feel as if it is nailed to the hive stand. I leave all the honey in the brood box and half brood box for the bees.” From a source in the USA, “Bees in the southern U.S. may thrive on as little as 40 pounds, bees in the middle states need about 60, and northern bees may require 80 or 90. Those are average numbers for average years and average hives. What’s average? Another good question.” While a second North American source reports, “Typically in the north a hive needs 60-80 pounds of honey in the hive to survive the winter. However, as I teach in my advance class, a colony also needs pollen in the hive during the winter as well.” And continues with, “Inspect the hive before removing any honey. Make sure there are at least 8-10 deep frames full of honey in the brood nest area, below the extra supers”.
So what does that all add up to. As a newcomer to bees keeping, my knowledge is being tested all the time and thankfully, I have the Internet I can use to ask those odd questions. Ian, the apiary manager has plenty of knowledge and I see him work every second there is daylight and sometimes beyond training to teach all that we need to know.
So how much honey should there be in the hive ready for winter? Not just honey, they need pollen as well. For this, we have some Candipolline to replace the short flow of pollen this year. I will remove the rapid feeder in the hive, score an ‘x’ to break the bag of Candipolline on its side and place the cut over the hole left by removing a porter bee hatch. This will let my bees grab all the pollen they need for their winter trip. It is not a case of Honey for the bees, they need to eat pollen too.
My bees have nowhere near a full super to move down into the brood box, so late autumn feeding will continue until we either find winter, or the weather closes in too much. Testimony varies but the main argument seems to be a warning of not to take too much honey from the hives until you have checked the stocks the bees need for winter. Some say hefting the boxes is enough to learn the store level, others say take a peek or two, but the answer is to make sure you feel confident you have given them enough supplies, maybe check with a more experienced keeper if you are unsure. Besides, a friendly chat with another keeper is always welcome from both sides, they say there is no wrong question to ask, just keep asking questions until you are sure you have the facts you need for your bees.
One author stateside wrote “Feed your bees if they do not have enough food to get through the winter. Further, it is not the fault of the bees that you put them in a location that could not provide adequate nutrition. Be good to your bees.” And I have to agree with him.
While I researched this article, I read plenty of good tips and knowledge from the web; I will include the links below to my sources. Look them up if you would like to.