honey bee management

Summer dearth and honey bee management

If you are in the northern hemisphere, there’s a good chance you are in a nectar dearth or approaching one. A nectar dearth is simply a shortage of nectar-producing flowers. Summer dearths are usually caused by high temperatures, a lack of rainfall, or both. Honey bee workers may become irritable, or they may beard on the hive and begin ditching the drones. Sometimes they begin visiting plants they previously had no interest in.

Provide water for your bees

A certain proportion of the water in the honey bee diet comes from nectar. So along with the nectar dearth comes a shortage of water. Unless your bees have a reliable natural source of water, consider setting up a watering hole. It can be as simple or complex as you like. Even though my own hives are near year-round water, they readily visit the water I provide on hot summer days. A saucer filled with water and rocks or marbles will keep them happy.

Removing honey supers

Depending on your individual situation, you may want to harvest before the nectar dearth begins. I find it much easier to handle the bees while they are still collecting because they remain focused on what they are doing rather than being defensive. Not only does the harvesting seem to go easier, but you also avoid the problem of attracting robbers with honey drips. Then too, if you wait too long to harvest, your honey stores may completely disappear.

Robbing caused by nectar dearth

With any luck, you will notice the dearth long before you notice robbing. Honey robbing is an inevitable consequence of dearth, yet it is something you can plan for in advance. I used to wait until I saw signs of dearth to make preparations, but now I prepare before the signs appear. Robbing is no fun. Regardless of whether your bees are perps or victims, you’re far better off to prevent it.

Colonies that get robbed can lose all the stores they have collected, and usually a lot of lives are lost in the fighting. Robbing bees can bring home the goods along with viruses, brood diseases, mites, and other parasites.

Robbers arrive from many places. They may come from your own hives, from neighboring hives, or from feral colonies. They may also come in the form of yellowjackets or other wasps that are interested in a meal of bee protein but are happy to have the honey as well. Shortages of food affect many species, so you never know who might show up for dinner. It’s best to be ready.

Dissuading the robbers

In my latest rendition of beekeeping, I keep the upper entrances confined to the honey supers so when I take off the supers, the upper entrances are gone too. I seldom open the bottom entrance more than about four inches, but depend on the super holes for extra doors. That means that during the nectar flow they have plenty of space, bottom and top, for ingress and egress. But come nectar dearth, simply removing the honey supers prepares them against robbing.

I now use robbing screens on all splits, swarms, and nucs as soon as I set them up. I figure that all three are nascent colonies that can use a little extra help. So I add the robbing screen right from the git-go. If they become strong enough for a honey super, they will gain an extra entrance along with each honey super I add.

Robbing screens

A robbing screen used during a nectar dearth.

Robbing screens keep away robbers and other predators, especially during a nectar dearth.

If you don’t want to build robbing screens, a number of companies have them available for sale. My favorite is the one made by BeeSmart Designs. They are made of plastic, will fit both 8- and 10-frame Langstroths, and install easily with a set of four push pins. I put them on my splits and newly captured swarms and leave them on. If you buy them along with the BeeSmart bottom board, you get a mouse guard as well. I’ve used them with both the BeeSmart bottom board and my standard wooden bottom boards with good results.

Preparing for the nectar dearth

To prepare for nectar death, you should at least close down the entrances to a size commensurate with the strength of the colony. A huge and feisty colony can guard a lot more space than a small or weak one, so consider their overall strength before you close them down too far.

Limit the number of times you open the hive during dearth. Each time you open the hive you break cells and send their odor out into the environment where it can be picked up by potential evil-doers. If opening is necessary, keep it short, and try to harvest either before or after dearth, if at all possible.

Some say that harvesting during dearth is fine because all colonies are open and therefore each is busy defending itself. There is some truth to that, but it doesn’t account for colonies not in your apiary, or for yellowjackets and wasps.

Likewise, some people say open feeding is better during a dearth because you won’t accidentally spill syrup in a hive and attract robbers. On the other hand, open feeding causes fighting and agitation among honey bees, attracts other predators, and often results in a considerable amount of bee death. If you must feed during a dearth, experiment to see what works best in your area.

Honey Bee Suite




  • Thx for the good info. I’ve noticed my hives just lack activity right now. Some pollen coming in but not the hustle they showed earlier this spring. Could be just a “dearth”. ?.


    • Mike,

      Also remember that we are now in the contraction phase. From now until late December, colonies will be getting smaller.

  • Tremendous article as always – thank you Rusty

    We are not the biggest fans of open feeding due to the high risk of disease transfer from colony to colony. Internal feeding, hive by hive where required, plus small entrances (down to 1 to 2 bee space if necessary) or robbing screens, seem to do the trick.

    (South East England)

  • I looked on the Bee Smart website and can’t find the robbing screens. Is it an old product they no longer make or so new they don’t have it on the website? I am interested in buying one to try. The kind I use now are a combo robbing/moving screen, depending on which tabs you open/close. They are way too fragile (weak screens and floppy tabs to open and close) and I have had them slip off while moving a colony, resulting in me driving an hour in my beesuit with plenty of angry bees flying around in the vehicle, on a hot day to boot.

  • Good morning Rusty, There isn’t a dearth here yet in Western Catskills with so much rain we have been having. There is an abundant amount of UNCAPPED nectar in the hives so far and not much of our usual yellow Spring honey but a medium dark with a reddish glow, so they are visiting other plants as you mentioned above. I keep adding supers. Any insight on how to get them to cap the honey? We have entrances in the supers so ventilation isn’t a problem unless it’s too much? Deb

    • Deb,

      It sounds like you have a good set-up. The bees will cap the honey when they decide it’s ready. They can do it quickly, so I wouldn’t worry about it. In fact, I just put some uncapped frames back in a hive so they can finish up. I don’t know how to encourage them—they work on their own schedule.

  • I have to add some things to the comment about harvesting honey. Beekeepers need to keep in mind that the honey that their bees made is the bee’s honey…not ours!!! When I am too greedy and take too much honey, I am possibly setting my bees up for failure. (I know because I have done this in the past!) A beekeeper must ALWAYS evaluate how much honey the bees have in the brood boxes and leave (possible a super) of the honey for the bees. In late spring, the brood boxes may be full of brood and not really that much food. Leaving at least one super of honey for each hive gives the bees the food stores that they need. Because I plant many, many flowers for my bees, I see that super of honey disappear and then be refilled throughout the summer just from different flowers that come into bloom in my area. This allows my queens to lay that wall to wall pattern in the brood boxes and my bees still have enough food to survive.

  • Having a few birdbaths around our woods for the birds and squirrels, the bees congregate at one in particular during these hot days of summer. Hmmm, how to keep them safe. Well, I live in area rich with ancient ocean sea shells that are constantly being pulled from the cliffs of the rivers by frequent storms. These shells, being ridden with marine worm holes, looked to be the perfect bee watering device. So i placed a few large scallop shells in the bird baths. The bees adapted quickly to them. Sometimes as many as 50 bees will be sitting on these shells casually sipping water that is drawn up and available in the tiny marine worm cavities.

    I would send a picture if I knew how!

  • Hello,

    Thank you for your advice. I follow your updates regularly and really enjoy them.

    When do you start feeding them for winter? I start when the honey flow ends but am always afraid of robbing. I was told it’s better to feed early when there’s a lot of summer bees to build up stores and not to tire the autumn winter bees. I use feeders under top covers and reduce their entrances to 2 inch bottom entrance and one hole in the bottom super. After adding the feed (in the evening) there is always a lot of bees flying around the hive the next day. I use 7.5 liter feeders because I am not close to my bee yard so I add new feed every week.

    • Simon,

      I try to manage my bees so that I don’t have to feed them. Honey is the best food for bees, so if I can avoid giving them syrup, I do. Where I live, winters are not especially cold, but they are long and wet. I like to leave 80 pounds of honey on each hive, which is 8 or 9 full deep frames.

      I generally remove my supers at the end of June. I freeze the frames overnight and then store them. If for some reason the bees don’t have enough frames of honey come winter, I can take some of these frames and give them back to the bees. Usually, however, they can make up the 80 pounds or so on the fall flow.

      To me, sugar syrup is emergency feed, so I don’t give them syrup unless there’s an emergency. I do, however, give them candy boards in winter whether they need them or not, just as an emergency supply in case they can’t get to their honey frames.

  • Rusty,

    Your post is interesting about robbers. I did not know that bearding was a sign of summer nectar dearth. I have two that are doing that and it has not rained here for nearly 3 months. In this area we definitely have a dearth in July and August. I was interested in your robbing screens and wanted to see what they looked like to see if I could make one or buy one. However your link did not come up with anything. I actually found some photos in Google. Those incidentally looked just like the latest Asian Hornet muzzle that my beekeeper friend who is also a carpenter made. I have taken photos of these 3 devices and will send them to your blog Asian hornet section so as to keep subjects in order.

    best regards Michael

    • Michael,

      I don’t know that I would say bearding is a sign of nectar dearth, but it correlates with nectar dearth because of high temperatures. The hives are hot and often the bees are less busy because there is nothing to collect, so they tend to hang around.

      I will contact the manufacturer of the robbing screens for a photo and better link.

  • I’m i first year newbie here in Eugene, Or. My one hive has has filled their upper deep with honey and has just started to draw comb in the super I added a few weeks ago. The blackberries are almost done blooming. I would like to at least get the comb in the super drawn out to give them a head start for next year. Would you recommend feeding one-to-one syrup during the summer nectar dearth in order to get this accomplished or let them forage and just feed two-to-one in the fall?

    • Jason,

      As for feeding, see my answer to Simon, above. If you have two full brood boxes, you probably don’t need to feed, but that’s up to you. I don’t ever feed if I don’t have to, after all bees are meant to eat honey. On the other hand, if your mission is to get the honey super drawn out, feeding syrup might accomplish that, or might not. In any case, the syrup may encourage robbers.

  • Rusty,

    Thanks for all the great information on your site.I live in the sandhills N.C. 3rd yr. Trying to keep bees. I’ve learned that we don’t have much of a fall flow like others in different parts of the US.

    Still learning.

    • I live in North Carolina. The fall can be one of the best times to build up food stores for my bees. Here in Southern Union County, the Golden Rod is already starting to bloom (Late July!!). Last year they collected pollen and nectar from August to October. I noticed different species blooming continually through the fall of 2016. This does depend on the rain fall from year to year. Some of it produces nectar, some produce pollen. Also, several types of aster blooms and lately I have found a wild camphor blooming. I want to try to propagate it. You find camphor in some varroa treatments.

      Many beekeepers do not know what is blooming in their area. I am blessed with natural areas all around my property and I grow a lot of different things for my bees.

      I still keep an eye on their stores, but last year, did not have to feed them at all.

  • Rusty,

    Thanks for all the informative blogs you put out regularly. You mention that try to avoid going into the hive as little as possible, especially doing the dearth, but yet, I’m told to feed, feed, feed, because of the dearth. I think all of this comes down to what the beekeeper is comfortable for his/her hives. I could ask 6 beekeepers their opinion and get 12 answers. It gets confusing but I’m learning to figure it out on my own.

    • Mike,

      With the right equipment, you can feed without opening the hive. I use one of those one-gallon feeders that goes on top of the roof. No opening involved.

  • Have you tried open feeding? I have always read to avoid this, but there are now many experienced beekeepers on youtube that feed this way and have no problems. They say you get less robbing because all the bees are kept busy and full. It seems like an easy way to feed multiple colonies.

    • John,

      I saw it once when I was working at the prison. It was a total fiasco, bringing in every wasp, hornet, ant, and fly from miles around. Plus, I think it actually increased robbing. Not at first but later. Once all the feral bees and wasps learned where the food was, they fanned out and found the hives. Not only that, it is a free-for-all for disease transmission. Feral hives or hives from other apiaries can share foulbrood, mites, viruses, whatever. The winter following that experiment, a hive came down with AFB, the first time we’d ever seen it at that location. I have to admit, though, that bees at open feeding stations make compelling YouTubes.

  • Question: if you have uncapped super frames once the dearth starts, will it ever get capped? Someone commented that the bees won’t cap those cells because the flowers from which the nectar was gathered are no longer blooming. Will the bees not mix nectars in cells? It’s something I always wondered and now that I have roughly 5 supers of uncapped stores, I’d like an answer to!

    • Anna,

      Nearly all honey is polyfloral. Even varietal honeys are only “predominantly” one floral type. So-called wildflower honey, meadow honey, spring honey are all mixed nectar. Although pollen analysis isn’t definitive (because some pollen can arrive airborne), it is still amazing to look at a sample of honey and see all the different types of pollen. When I open just one cell and look at it under the microscope, I see many kinds of pollen. The statement that “the bees won’t cap those cells because the flowers from which the nectar was gathered are no longer blooming” is nonsense, espoused by someone who isn’t going to let facts get in the way.

      The usual reason for uncapped cells is the bees didn’t “think” it was ready to cap. It may look ready to us, but it may be at 19% water, rather than 17% or so. If you can’t shake it out when you invert the frames, it is really close. Unlike brood cells that are capped one-by-one, honey bees build a sheet over the ready-to-cap areas. This is why the honey caps lay flatter than brood caps, and it’s why you see portions of frames capped or uncapped, not individual cells uncapped in a field of capped ones. When the bees think a certain area is ready, they sheet it over.

      In The Hive and the Honey Bee (2015) Kirsten Traynor writes about the stages of honey curing. The very last stage is passive, meaning the bees have done everything they can, and finally they just have to wait for the last bits of moisture to leave. This apparently is just the last few percentage points, and the moisture is eventually forced out from heat rising from the cluster. Once it’s right, they will cap.

      Now, if the cluster it too small this could take a long time, so as the summer progresses and colonies get smaller, it could take a longer time. It may never be capped. Last week I harvested some uncapped frames and put them over a larger colony for capping. I checked this morning, and they are just about done, with just a few rows remaining at the bottom.

      If you want to extract the honey, you can. I would first try to shake it out. If it won’t budge, extract a frame and test it with a refractometer. If it’s within range, go ahead and extract the rest. If it’s right on the border, you can refrigerate or freeze it.

      • Ah, thank you so much for the thorough response. The poly-floral honey is understood (I sell mine as wildflower due to lack of large areas of singular blooms).

        The bit about covering the cells as a sheet goes a long way toward explaining the presence of large swaths of uncapped cells. And that the last “push” of evaporation is actually passive.

        The colonies are very well sized but the humidity in MD has been brutal. I may experiment with a screened inner cover to see if that helps.

        Thank you, this was the most coherent answer I have ever received regarding this issue. (Knew I could count on a reasonable explanation from you Rusty!)

        • Anna,

          Yes, I find the screened inner covers make a big difference. They give all that moist hot air a place to go.

          • Do your screened inner covers also have a hole in the center like a standard inner cover has? It’s pretty humid in Minnesota too and my colonies have several supers full but not capped. I have screened boards that I use for moving swarms and colonies but they obviously don’t have a hole in the center. I’m wondering if those will work. I’m thinking they would since the hole is used for a feeder pail and I’m certainly not feeding them now. Taking it a step further, would a shim between the screened cover (with no center hole) and the outer telescoping cover provide even more space for that warm humid air to go?

          • JoAnne,

            I’m not sure I understand your questions. My screened inner covers do not have a hole. They let warm air out but don’t allow predators, moths, etc. to enter. My screened inner covers, like those sold commercially, have built-in shims that hold the telescoping cover away from the screen on two sides. This allows warm air to flow though the screen and then out the two non-shimmed sides. It’s not like an attic that would hold the warm air in because the air is free to leave to the outside.

          • Thanks Rusty. I should have searched for screened inner cover. Your 2012 post on how to make one was the 2nd hit! I think I can modify mine to work. Thanks again for all the great info.

  • My Bee Guy (who brings hives that have done their duty in an apple orchard) to spend their summer in our back yard, came over to add two more supers to each of 12 hives, said that upon opening his truck door, got stung immediately (Just a reminder LOL) then got no more grief from the workers. Timing of the rains has been promising, the basswood had just finished blossoming. Next year we will try doing some honeycomb packages. He says too often the bees just chew up the foundation and use it elsewhere in the hive. It has been an interesting summer!


  • Help! I am a first year with 2 hives that seemed to be doing well until this week. It has been hot and humid with very little rain and the bees had been bearding on their hives. Given the time of year and from what I had read I decided we were experiencing a nectar dearth so yesterday I removed the inner covers and put the top feeders on with sugar syrup and honey bee healthy. Immediate frenzy! Bees everywhere trying to get in everywhere. So many I couldn’t tell who was who and where they belonged. The weather got cooler and rainy so I didn’t want to open the hive again. i returned today to put in the entrance reducer ( a day late I know) and when I opened the telescope top to check on the feeder it was filled with dead bees….not on the bee side and no more syrup. What have I done?

    • LJ,

      The biggest mistake was the Honey-Bee-Healthy. Any kind of aromatic feeding stimulant used during a dearth will attract robbers for miles around. Then, too, I never add syrup unless I’ve first installed a robbing screen. Robbers are difficult, at best. Now that they know where to come, they are apt to check it out frequently.

      So, first things first. I would order robbing screens and get them installed before adding more syrup. The ones I like best are by BeeSmart Designs and they can be found at Blue Sky Bee Supply, as well as other outlets.

      Install the screen and open just one entryway. Give your bees a couple of days to adjust to their new opening. Then you can feed, but leave out the HBH. It’s best to open the hive at the end of the day so that if robbing starts again, the approaching night will send them back home. If you spill any syrup on the ground, use a hose to dilute it.

      • So this also happens when I returned the spun supers to the hives after I had extracted. I put honey supers to be cleaned on all the hives, so everybody got some. I came back to find that bees had gotten under the telescoping top and then could not get out. There was a pile of dead bees on the screened inner covers. I have been beekeeping for 8 years. Sometimes this just happens and there is really nothing that can be done about it.

        Yesterday I rearranged some honey frames into hives that did not have as much. That too started a frenzy. They were everywhere…dive bombing into the pool, flying like crazy bees everywhere.

        Bees just get crazy when they smell something that they really like.

        • Gladys,

          It can be difficult to handle honey during a dearth, there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes I take the screened inner covers off while the bees are cleaning wet supers to avoid the problem of bees collecting up there. And sometimes, even though you give all your hives some honey, bees from outside your apiary come in to get some. It’s just part of beekeeping.

  • Rusty,
    Thank you so much!

    Lesson learned. Does this mean I should just not open the hive until the robber screens arrive? What about the dead bees in the feeder? Should I clean it out and put it back empty?

    By the way, I am in central Virginia.

    Thank you!

    • LJ,

      If you want to clean things up, just do it late in the day. You can leave the feeder empty or fill it with water while you wait for robbing screens.

  • Rusty,
    Thank you again!
    And thank Gladys for her input too. All good to know.
    Fingers crossed that they will all survive.

    Very much appreciate your help!


  • Hi Rusty
    I am wondering if another ‘tell’ that a colony is enduring a nectar dearth is a full on attack of a hummingbird feeder, with the girls crawling over each other to get that sweet 4:1 sugar water. I suspect it may be, for although my lone hive has 150 acres of watermelons within a 1/2 mile radius, there are 200 hives full of competitors. Add to this the hot dry weather here in S Ont ( although the melons are watered) and I am thinking the screens should go on forthright. Do you concur, or am I off base? P.S. I’d send you a cool picture but don’t know your email.

  • Hi Rusty, how often do you check your hives in the fall? We are 1st year beeks, and ever since the temps dropped a month ago and the dearth hit, our hive has been rather protective. The last three times we opened to inspect, they come pouring out everywhere, and are completely unresponsive to smoke. We’ve had a terrible time closing up the hive, and have unfortunately crushed many bees in the process as they seem hell bent on coming out. I’d like to feed them some sugar slabs as I’m sure they need feeding after all the cold we’ve had, but we seem to be causing more harm than good. Should we wait a few weeks for the population to decrease to try another inspection? Or is this common during this time of year? Thank you!

    • Summer,

      It’s hard to say. Honey bees can get pretty testy during a dearth or if they are bothered by robbing bees and wasps. On the other hand, that kind of behavior can also signal queeenlessness. If you can get inside, it would be good to check on the queen to make sure she’s still in there. Your location will make a difference, too. When it gets cooler, they may calm down. At this time a year, I hardly need a veil on the cooler days.

      • Thanks for the response Rusty. We checked last week and found 1-3 day old eggs so our new queen is definitely in there. It’s just hard to decipher between cranky bees and outraged bees, especially since we are newbs and don’t truly know the difference yet.

  • Hi everyone, I’m a newbie beekeeper in central Kentucky, and I need some experienced advice now that summer is here. I got started late due to Covid-19 into beekeeping. I have a friend who is a beekeeper and he provided me with some hive boxes and after I got them all cleaned up and was planning on purchasing a nuc from a supplier that was still available in early June, I had another local beekeeper give me a small swarm that consisted of about 3 frames with a minimal amount of bees on them.

    So, I took them gladly and set them up down close to a pond and overgrown fields around the pond that pointed southeast, which looked like a perfect setup. I started feeding sugar water and nutrient blend and they slowly fed and were very docile. So good so far.

    As I got into the colony the first time or two over a 3-4 week period, I began seeing lots of capped and open brood and honey and pollen stores, and I got so excited! After 5 weeks, I opened up the hive and wow, bees everywhere!! The population has tripled and I have 5 frames packed with bees, capped brood, open brood, some capped honey, uncapped honey, and a little less pollen as things are drying up here a bit as far as pollen flow, even though my neighborhood and yard is full of white clover.

    The first thing that puzzled me is why they are leaving the outer 4 to 4 1/2 frames alone and not even drawing out any comb. So I read and watched some beekeeping videos and decided to place some of the empty frames in between those packed with bees and everything else.

    I give you all that info to ask this question: What do I do next? Do I add another deep box with foundation (as I have no empty drawn comb frames to add), or do I add a honey super with a queen excluder? I am kind of torn simply due to the nectar flow coming to an end and summer starting to heat up big time here in my area. This weekend is supposed to hit 95 degrees for several days and will likely stay in the 90’s most of the rest of summer. I know they need space, just not sure what I need to do. I have stopped feeding over the past two days and not sure if I need to start that back up or not also.

    Thank you and this is a wonderful site for information, but my situation seemed a bit different as I got my bees later than usual and am in a kind of transitional phase than most everyone else.

    • Johnny,

      First of all, be aware that the summer solstice has passed and days are getting shorter. From here on, your colony will maintain size or get smaller. It’s not going to expand into another brood box at this late date. You may have a fall honey flow or not, depending on your local conditions and the weather, and the bees will probably need that for winter stores.

      Why did your bees not build more comb? Because they didn’t need it. Your bees will build as much as they need, not as much as you want. Different things.

      You should not break up the brood nest by putting empty frames in it. This is more of an advanced skill, sometimes used to control swarming, but that isn’t your issue. My opinion (and I welcome others) is that you should take those empty frames out of there and slide the brood nest back in place.

      As for feeding, you shouldn’t feed if you add a honey super because you don’t want syrup mixed in with your honey. However, if nectar is scarce in the coming dearth, you may want to skip the honey super entirely, and just feed the bees hoping to build up the colony for the winter.

  • Thank you for the advice. The concern was the number of bees that have been increasing and all the brood that is being laid by the queen, and the honey stores seeming to be so minimal, especially as the nectar flow is ending and they will need it to get through winter. I have already committed to not pull any honey they may make this year, and hopefully will begin getting some honey next spring.

    I have received advice on building up the colony numbers as much as possible in order to be a larger stronger colony for winter, but I know there are other schools of thought about the colony regulating its size by themselves to prepare for winter. I get lost in all the info that’s out there at times. The bees seemed to be covering the top of the inner cover and all over the tops of all the frames, which made me wonder why they weren’t working on the frames instead. If the nectar flow is truly over, are they just hanging out? If so, they’re not bearding the front of the entrance when that’s the case, so I was a bit confused on what to do. I had one beekeeper tell me not to worry about whatever they’re doing in the hive, just let them do it. Then I hear from others that you need to be in there regularly to watch what they’re doing and head off any problems. Beekeeping is a big wide world out there, isn’t it? Lol.

    Yeah, I wasn’t going to feed if I added a super. I couldn’t tell how much nectar was still being brought in due to feeding them daily, but they were and are still bringing in pollen, as the clover is still pretty healthy in my area due to frequent rainfall.

  • Rusty,

    I was reading your post about dearth and robbing. Three years ago I set out to find how far would bees have to fly and not rob when using sugar water. It was interesting to watch my hives and how they reacted to distance. Short story is at 25 yards using sugar water the bees almost stopped robbing.

    At 30 yards, no robbing.

    I set my sugar 60 yds away from hives and had no problem. The other insects were getting some sugar water at this distance, however, at the hives, the bees were acting normal as if they had brought nectar in from the field and they did not have robber insects.

  • Rusty:

    We are now in a dearth here in the Fraser Valley. (I see that my girls have a large clover field a couple of miles away, but I am not sure how much they can get from it.)

    Most of the frames in my two hives have been capped to about 60% to 75% and I am waiting for the rest to be capped so that I can harvest some.

    Being in a dearth, I would imagine that they will have to start using what they have already have stored.

    Will they keep capping during this time?

    I don’t want to be feeding syrup until I can get some of the honey off, but as I don’t intend on selling any this year, will it hurt to feed at this time until they cap?

    If I do feed, will I be working against them, as I will now be adding so much more moisture into the hive?

    I have a screened bottom board and a 3/4 slot in the upper inner cover. Should I increase the vent in the upper inner cover opening to allow more air flow? (On one hive, I also have an upper entrance just above the queen excluder.)

    Thanks for your help.

    • Randy,

      Don’t ruin your honey crop with syrup. The bees will continue to cap their stores, even though they will be using some portion of it. You can pull the frames you want to harvest at about 90% capped and then leave the rest for the bees. At that point, if you want to feed you can.

      Yes, more ventilation usually helps the drying process go more quickly. Most ventilation other than the entrances should be screened to prevent robbing.

      • Thanks Rusty.

        I think what I will do, is put on my quilt board without the quilt in it. That will allow a steady flow of air, but not allow any bee access so there won’t be any issue of robbing.

        I will hold off any feeding until I get the honey supers off.


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