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Getting bees to make more honey is important for beekeepers. Beekeepers that are in it for honey as one of their beehive products need to get the best harvest they possibly can. Proper beekeeping practices must be followed by the beekeeper for a rewarding harvest. While honeybees will do it naturally on their own, they can in fact can be encouraged to make more comb or honey. It is important to know know how to get bees to make more honey to enjoy high yields every harvest time.
Proper Management for High Yields of Honey
Getting high yields of honey out of your beekeeping is not rocket science. Honeybees kept in proper conditions give you good value for your beekeeping. Honeybee colonies can be managed using various methods and practices to ensure optimal honey production. Having many adult bees and a healthy colony are important for the high production of honey.
Honey yields will vary by types of bee, your beekeeping practices and colony strength. Beekeepers measure their honey yields per beehive. They use weight as the measurement. Honey from beehives can be shown in kilograms or in pounds (depending on where you live). An average of 40 pounds of honey per beehive in a season is expected in the USA. You may get more or less based on your region and how long the growing seasons are. Some experienced beekeepers have harvested up to 100 pounds of honey from a single beehive in a season.
Ensure a Safe Environment
A safe and distraction-free space for your beehives gives you continuous bee activity. Every day, bees are carrying out different activities in the beehive. All of these activities are important for a strong hive. Large strong honeybee colonies store up honey faster and in greater quantities. Proper conditions for the honeybee colony to thrive must be provided. Bees that are not disturbed often have more time spent towards storing honey.
Ensure a Strong Population
A strong honeybee colony population plays a great role in determining your honey harvest. A colony with more bees dedicated to foraging makes more honey. The bees bring in more food resources including nectar to the beehive. Some of the food is stored as honey. Bees may eat some honey when the time is cold and they cannot go out foraging. Always leave bees enough honey for when they need to go into some of their reserve food. Young adult bees are great at wax production when you want more honeycombs drawn on beehive frames. Bees in a newly established beehive also have a tendency towards drawing a lot of comb onto frames. Having a high number of adult worker bees foraging for nectar helps with the production of more honey.
Treat for Pests, Parasites and Diseases
Keep honeybee colonies free of pests, parasites and diseases. These can wreak havoc on the colony and cause you low yields. They lower the productivity of bees and may cause the beehive to become inhabitable for bees. Your honeybees will abscond from the hive and swarm away in search of a new place to settle the colony. Early detection of these problems helps beekeepers address them before they cause huge losses. Look for signs of disease, pests or parasites in the beehive during beehive inspections.
Keep out Predators
Predators of honeybees may be a reason your harvest of honey is not the best you can get. They can damage beehives and may kill bees. Others take away bee brood or rob the bees of their honey. Keep your beehives secure. Predators that eat honey destroy brood comb and the com with honey. Beehive security should keep all animals, insects from entering your beehives. Robber bees invading a colony can deplete it of its honey stores but do not kill brood. Beehive security also needs you to ensure your beehives are secure from theft. Alarms and trackers can be used on beehives that are in distant apiaries. They help alert you when a beehive is disturbed and may help you recover stolen beehives. For large beekeeping operations, cameras may be used to add a layer of security for your honeybee colonies and beehives.
Use Frames with Drawn Comb
Honeybees build comb only when they need it. They do so when they want to expand the brood size or to store up honey. Drawing comb is a process that takes time. You can help your bees by placing frames with already drawn comb in honey super boxes. This saves bees the time and food resources they would have used in building comb on the frames. Frames that already have comb on them need the bees to only store honey and cap them. Extracted frames that are not in use in a beehive can be kept frozen and thawed out before being returned to the beehive when they are needed.
Increase Beehive Space
Give honeybees more space than they need for increased honey yields. Of course, this has to be done within limits so you do not compromise hive security. Additional space to guard may leave the honeybee colony open to attacks and invasions by pests and predators. Having an extra super box in the stack makes bees work towards making more honey. It also prevents them from swarming. During nectar-flow season, make sure to add the super boxes that bees will fill with honey. You can take out frames that are full of honey, extract honey from them and return them to the beehive within the season.
Plant Bee Friendly Flowers
Plant life around bees gives them the resources they need to make great honey. Nectar from the flowers of plants and pollen are important for bees. If you can, have plants and shrubs that are great for bees within foraging distance of your bees. Wide flowers are great for bees since they have a short proboscis. They cannot draw nectar from flowers with narrow entrances.
Tips for Honey Harvesting
Harvesting honey is perhaps the most rewarding activity for beekeepers. It tells the beekeeper if they have been good at managing their honeybee colonies. The honey harvest you get is the excess honey that the bees have made and stored. Be sure to leave them enough honey for winter and early spring. Harvesting honey can be done at any time from late spring to early autumn. After that, it is best to leave the honeybees to store up resources for winter. In late autumn, consider increasing the number of bees in the beehive slightly so that you have a large colony going into winter.
Proper timing enables you to harvest as much honey as possible from each beehive in your apiary. Both beginner and experienced beekeepers can harvest honey without encountering or causing problems with their honeybees. Take only the honey you need and leave the bees the rest. In harvesting honey, you should only be concerned with the super boxes. You may also take a few minutes to look into the brood boxes of your beehive and carry out a quick visual inspection, but frames in the brood box should not be extracted.
Removing the Frames
The process of harvesting honey involves removing beehive frames from the super boxes. Use a frame gripper and a hive tool to get through the job quickly and with ease. The frame should be removed straight upwards so the comb does not get damaged. Rubbing the frame against its neighbor can also lead to the capping on honeycells getting damaged and spilling out honey. The frames you take out should be those that have a significant amount of honey stored in them. Those that have little or no honey stored in them should be left in the beehive for bees to continue working on them. Remember to replace the frames that you remove from every super box. You may quickly extract honey from the frames or use spare ones (with already drawn comb). It helps increase honey yields if you have spare frames with comb already drawn on them.
Uncapping the Honeycells
Uncapping follows the removal of beehive frames from the super boxes. This is removal of the top cover on honeycells. The cover is made of wax. Beekeepers use various tools to uncap honeycells. The tools either pierce the caps or cut them off. This leaves the honey exposed and can be removed from the honeycomb. Some uncapping tools are heated. The heated uncapping tools use both mechanical forces to uncap and melt the wax of the caps. When uncapping, try to minimize mixing capping wax with honey. Separating the two may prove troublesome later on. It also robs you of some of the honey in your potential harvest.
Preserving the Honeycomb
Getting honey from comb is another area you should carry out well when harvesting honey. Here, aim to preserve comb as much as you can. Comb that is still firmly attached to the frame after harvesting helps you get higher yields of honey. You can return the comb to the beehive and have the bees get to filling it again with honey. The time they would spend drawing comb afresh on a frame is minimized. Having a few spare frames with already drawn comb allows you to replace the frame you remove from beehives. you can then extract honey frames you removed from the beehive later.
Keep spare frames with drawn comb in airtight containers to keep them from being damaged by parasites and pests of honeybees. Some beekeepers freeze their spare frames with drawn comb and thaw them out before placing them in honey super boxes. Spare frames can also be used with brood boxes when you are raising more brood in readiness for nectar-flow.
Pay Attention to the Queen
Your rear-round management of honeybees determines how well your colony will be at honey production when the time comes. Aim for strong colonies that have great foraging power for high yields of honey. Ensure that you have a queen in the beehive every time. Queen bees are necessary for the pheromones they produce that bind the honeybee colony together. Without a queen bee you will also have no eggs and brood to replace bees that die off. An egg laid in the beehive takes 40 days to transition through the lifecycle of a bee and reach foraging duties. Bees replace poorly-laying queens but you can also do it as part of your hive management.
Feed the Bees when Necessary
Bees are dependent on their environment for nutrition. Good nutrition triggers bees to have more brood and honey stored away. Feeding bees with pollen and sugar syrup is favored by beekeepers. It makes the bees draw more honeycomb and increase the number of brood. Sugar syrup mimics nectar and may cause bees to be inclined towards making honey. When there are abundant food resources in the environment, you do not need to feed bees. Make sure that you use clean equipment and that feed for bees does not go bad. You should use in-hive feeders or place the bee feed outside the beehive. Water must also be provided for bees to use in their various beehive activities.
Any factor that hinders the honeybees making more honey should be addressed. These include pest, parasite, diseases and predator control. Others are availability of ready comb and proper beehive integrity. Beekeepers ignoring these factors have low honey yields per beehive. Do not underestimate the capabilities of your honeybee colonies and undermine them. If you do not facilitate their honey production, you only have yourself to blame.
Beekeepers should have high quality equipment in use with their bees. It ensures the best results in beekeeping. Having proper equipment and most of what you need helps you avoid bringing items from other honeybee colonies to your apiary. Some stuff you borrow from other beekeepers can bring pest, diseases and parasites of bees to your honeybees.
A Final Word
Late July to September is the time most beekeepers harvest honey from their beehive colonies. Be sure to wait for 80% of your honey super box beehive frames to be filled with honey before you harvest. Harvesting earlier may result in honey that has not undergone curing. Uncapped cells in the super box frames means the honey is not ready for harvesting. Use these tips and management guide on how to get bees to make more honey to boost your harvest of honey this year.
Do you use any of these methods to get bees to make more honey? Leave a comment below and let us know.