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Harvesting for the First Timer



My Warre colony started from boxed bees from Bee Thinking last year. They’ve done great, and over wintered just fine - due in some part to the mild winter no doubt! The bees are in all four of the boxes, and are completely full. I’m thinking of harvesting soon, I’m just not sure of the following:

  1. If I clear a box-worth of comb, do I put an empty box back on the hive or just take it off for the season?
  2. How much should I leave this year? With another mild winter ahead (but an early ending season now) I’m just not sure what’s safe.
  3. Any “best” time of day and/or weather to harvest?



  1. That depends on your location and the time of year. Here in Portland, Oregon, if I harvested today I’d probably put the box back (on the bottom) just in case they need to build a little more. If I harvested two boxes, I’d probably just put one back, as it’s quite unlikely they’d fill two. I’d monitor them, of course, in case they DID build much in the first box.

  2. I try and leave at least one full box of honey. Warre overwintered in one honey box and one brood box below that. It’s not always that simple, however, as the top box may only be half full of honey, with the rest of it in the second box down. This would mean you’d need to leave them 3 boxes. 2 partially filled with honey and one with brood.

  3. I try and harvest when it’s not too hot out (80 or below), partially so the bees don’t have issues cooling their hive, and so I don’t get too hot! I like to do it when there are still flowers blooming and they aren’t too deep into the dearth. They tend to be crankier if there’s nothing blooming and it’s terribly hot.

Good luck!