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I am nervous. No honey in brood box and autumn is around the corner

Hello, I am a first year beekeeper. I have just one hive in Czech Republic.
I started with a hive split in mid-July, with 7 built frames and I added 3 empty. As of today all frames are fully built.

After today’s check I found there are no honey in brood box. I didn’t put super this year, planned to do it next year.

I see that queen is still laying eggs. Every frame is full of living bees, the hive is really crowded. A frame or two with larvae, two more frames is full of upcoming bees. No drones. I still observe orientation flights also.

After today’s check I am worried a lot because I saw no honey cells. This is not what I would expect at all. Just three weeks ago half of frames had honey, as usual, at the top and top-corners. I did not notice any signs of starvation either, worker bees looks lively and are of a regular size.

I am lost at this point, I do afraid that bees won’t survive till spring. I am not sure whether bees still have time to collect enough honey.
I am looking for an advice from experienced beekeepers on what I can do right now in order to ensure my bees will survive this winter.

Is there a fall nectar flow in your area? What about winter and early spring? You should consult with your local beekeepers. How much honey do they recommend having for the bees over winter? One or two boxes? How many kgs? I would assume you have pretty long, cold winters in Brno, similar to us here in Ohio, USA.

Before it gets cooler, with average temperatures below 50ºF or 10ºC, you can always feed them to put on weight for winter but they may not be able to draw another box, if that is what is required. They won’t take syrup when it is colder than 10ºC.

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There is a flow, till the mid October. And the second half of February another flow starts.

I’m still looking for a local beekeeper who would do beekeeping as hobby. And to be honest I did like what I see up until now. I don’t exactly like what commercial beekeepers do to their bees also. :neutral_face:

Although, commercials are leaving bees with 15kg of honey and starting to feed bees at the mid of August. I was told that 25 kg of honey is more than safe for the hive to survive winter.
I don’t have an answer for one or two brood boxes. I also feel, from what I learned, that one box is sufficient for our winter, though I’m newbie.
Winter is indeed similar to Ohio, just 1-2 degrees lower on average in Brno.

Having in mind that we have similar winter, do you think one brood box is all right?
I’d be happy to see recommendations on feeding too. Is there a way to ensure bees have some emergency food when the temperatures are below 50ºF or 10ºC.

Hi Anton, welcome! I’m in a similar area to you and Alok, and I overwinter in one 8 frame deep + one medium box. The medium is on top and is 100% honey. I don’t think you will be able to get another box full of comb and honey by winter, but you can help them a lot by treating for varroa mites now, and choosing what feeding and winterizing gear you will need so you can get it in place by the time cold weather hits.

Take a look at some of the discussions here by putting ‘varroa mite management’ ‘fall feeding’ and ‘overwintering’ in the search bar, to get an idea of how others in climates like yours are dealing with this.

Also here’s a simple way to keep food in the hive during winter when you don’t know for sure how much they have and can’t open the hive all the way up -

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Hi, thanks for your answer.

Do you use queen excluder between deep and medium? Watching this year and learning about bees - I came to the same conclusion that I’ll add medium box on top of my deep brood box. However I don’t know whether I should isolate queen from it. I’m not exactly sure what happen if I keep medium box accessible for the queen.

Thanks for the pointers. I will study these. I put sugar syrup today.

I also wonder how realistic is beekeeping without feeding at all, feeding as a last resort only. Like taking “that much” of honey so that bees always have enough for the winter. :slight_smile:

thanks!

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You’re most welcome, Anton! I do want to point out that my mediums function as second brood boxes at this stage and through winter. They are full of honey now, because they were indeed above a QX since mid- to late nectar flow here - and above my Flow supers. At that time they help boost air circulation in the hot humid weather, and to offload workers. Once I harvest my Flow supers for the last time, I take them and the QXs off - and put the medium directly on the deep brood box. This means the queen will indeed end up laying in the central frames of the medium through fall, which is a good thing.

Come spring, I will typically find that most of the capped honey is gone and the most active brood area is in the dead center of the combined space. I can easily split this if it’s ready, but sometimes there’s only brood downstairs and I just remove the top box until they’re ready for supering.

Like most things, timing is everything. Personally I think it’s too late to put a new empty box on a hive this close to winter, regardless of a fall flow.

It’s a fantasy unless you can understand bee-speak - but then again, they would always say “Hands off!” to us :grin: But seriously, I think there are too many variables to exclude feeding from your beekeeping repertoire, and I that it’s better to have the gear ready and the expectation of doing it from time to time. I respect and share your aim though, and I do strive to avoid creating the situation where feeding is necessary.

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Thanks! I guess I’ve got my answers and few things to work on! @Eva and @chau06 you were very helpful!

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