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How to figure out how much honey to leave for winter


I am in northern CA. My hive has 2 8-frame deep brood boxes and a deep super. Right now my bees have nearly filled their deep super, which is a partial Flow setup with 3 flow frames and 4 foundationless frames. I stole 1 of the foundationless frames full of honey last month and 1 today. 2 of the flow frames are capped and ready to drain, and the last one is probably 2/3 to 3/4 full. There is still quite a bit of summer left. I’m trying to decide if I can safely drain both flow frames and they’ll have time to refill before winter hits, or if I should only drain 1 of them and leave the other for later or for winter.

Do I leave the super on for winter for the honey stores, or take it off? It’s so hard to guess how much they have sharing space on the brood frames and how much they’ll need for our (fairly mild) winter here. Anyone else in the same area or a similar climate have any thoughts? I’m actually quite happily surprised at how much honey these girls are making in their first year! I don’t think they have much competition for nectar around here…


You can probably drain them if you are willing to feed in late Fall. It is really hard to predict exactly. I am in SoCal, and most beekeepers here like to overwinter with at least 40lb of honey in the brood boxes - that is about 8 deep frames of capped honey. If the winter is very mild, you may need less, otherwise, you may have to feed.

Take it off. I will be taking mine off, even down here in SoCal. If you are subtropical (southern Baja, Mexico), you could probably leave it on… :blush:


I guess if I have to take it off for winter, I might as well drain the whole thing anyway! I don’t mind feeding, just need to make sure the girls have enough space to store their winter honey and/or syrup on the brood box frames that also have brood in them. I really am impressed at getting so much the first year! It makes me afraid that I’m miscalculating somehow…


Take it all. There are still more summer flowers and fall flowers have yet to bloom as well. I can’t imagine leaving a flow frame in winter, so you might as well drain that too.