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Winterizing in Northern California

I am new and getting ready for my first winter. I have one brood box and one flow super. I have harvested 1 frame of honey. Do I harvest the remainder of the honey and just leave the brood box over winter. The hive was new this spring. I weather here is mild over winter - temps in the days are anywhere from 50-70 degrees and over night temps are 30-50 degrees most days. I am concerned if I take the honey super off they will not have enough food. I am feeding the 2/1 sugar syrup and was recommended for the first year. Do they need the honey. I have a queen excluder on should I take it off and let the queen have access the upper super? Will she lay eggs up there? Thanks for any advice!

Hello and welcome!

Lots to unpack in your message…

Yes - you can harvest this and keep it or feed it back to the bees - if you have had your super on while you have been feeding, then your super is probably mostly sugar syrup, not honey. Mostly beekeepers in the first year recommend against taking any honey from a newly established hive.

You should probably discuss this with your local beekeepers - see when the nectar flows start up again - but you’re not in a situation where there is year-round nectar sources that allow the super to stay on all the time.

Probably so, but like I said above, if you’re feeding with the super on, then they are filling your flow frames with sugar.

If you only have one box, you don’t need an excluder, so yes, take it off. You don’t want the queen in the flow super.

Apparently not always, but often enough that you want to avoid the possibility because it is a tedious mess to clean up.

Since I am not sure exactly what the status is of your colony, I think you should:

  1. Harvest all the honey in the flow super.
  2. Rinse and store your flow super until the spring, or whenever the nectar flows start. Maybe fruit trees in your locale.
  3. Feed the bees back the honey/syrup that you harvested from the flow super.
  4. Check the hive weight (you can just heft it) after you have fed them quite a bit and just check on it periodically over the winter. It is warm enough there that you can feed them more syrup most of the winter, except the odd cold snaps, if needed.
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