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How much honey from typical Warre harvest?


#1

Hi All,

After three years of horizontal top bar keeping I started beekeeping in a Warre two seasons ago. My first season with a Warre, the bees just built down into the second box so I didn’t harvest anything. This past early Spring 2012 there were three consecutive swarms off of the hive (which I caught and gave to new beekeepers) and then I added two boxes (nadiring) which the bees didn’t build into as I’d hoped they would. So I’m leaving them in the original two boxes this winter.

I hope to add boxes earlier in the Spring this coming Spring so the bees are less likely to swarm. I am in Denver Colorado metro where late frosts are common so this is why I was slow to add boxes - didn’t want to chill them unnecessarily.

I’m wondering why my bees didn’t get down into at least a third box this season? We are in a drought but my bees are in the suburbs so people do water their gardens and trees. I caught the bees originally from a swarm that had flown from a tree so they’re feral, survivor stock. Perhaps they are “frugal”?

Anyway, could folks give me an idea of how many pounds I might harvest from a Warre in a typical year? Is one box (30 lbs) common? Occasionally or rarely two boxes (60 lbs)? I’d like to get an idea of what I might expect. I hope to expand my apiary next season. When I expand the apiary I’ll hopefully have some less frugal bees in the mix…

I’m also wondering if perhaps my bees just didn’t like going past the top bars. In the Bee-Friendly Beekeeper David Heath mentions some folks use top bars oriented vertically. He has a photo on page 114. The vertically oriented bars give more space for the bees to build downward. Matt - any chance you would offer vertically oriented bars in the future?

Thanks for any input you can give. And please if you respond tell me what your location is. Hoping to hear from some folks who live in semi-arid cold winter areas (as well as other locales). Much appreciated!


#2

Judith,

This year was horrid for my hives, production wise. We harvested a few boxes off of my 12-ish hives. The most I’ve gotten off of a single hive was about 3 boxes (90-ish pounds). Average on a productive colony I’d say is 1 box. A lot of this, of course, depends on your location, the surrounding forage, the strength of the colonies, etc. So a beekeeper in South Dakota may have a MUCH larger harvest than a beekeeper in Portland, Oregon, for instance.

Your bees’ hesitancy to move down into the 3rd box is a common one. In my experience their ability to move down into the 3rd box depends largely on the strength of the colony and the forage. If there’s a lot of forage and the colony is strong, they’ll often move down. If they are a bit weaker, sometimes they’ll just swarm a couple times and sit in 2 boxes. As an experiment, I’ve begun adding boxes both on top and the bottom on my healthier colonies. Sometimes they’ll move up, sometimes they’ll move down, or both. If you do add boxes, it can be very helpful to add a couple “bridge” combs (above or below) to entice the bees to move and start building.

Last year a few beekeepers experimented with the vertical bars that you described. They had no better success getting bees to build than they did with standard Warre bars.

You may want to pose the same question to the UK Yahoo Warre group as well (if you haven’t already!).

Best,

Matt


#3

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the reply. I just remembered something - mid-June we had golf sized hail here that decimated my community garden plants. Of the twenty gardeners there, only 5 or 6 re-planted. So I’m thinking that many other backyard gardeners must have given up too… And some blossoming trees had to have been affected by the hail too.

Thanks for the suggestion of bridge comb. I’ll try it next season.

best,

Judith


#4

I got a package of bees for my Warre hive in the Spring. Currently I have 3 boxes, but the bottom one is completely empty. Do I remove it for the winter so the volume is smaller or leave it so it will be available when the bees need it in Jan/Feb? I live just north of San Francisco so winters are quite mild?