Progress on Capping the Super Frames

Yesterday I went out to the yard to check on the bees.

White Hive:
Get a good look at the queen in the white hive shown below. I don't think she's going to be around much longer.

The frame she's standing on is one of several that aren't drawn out in the top brood box yet.

I'm still seeing eggs, larva and brood, but just not as much as the other blue/purple hive.

I think I'm going to have to replace her before the fall's cooler weather get's here. She just isn't producing the amount of worker bees I think she should, and won't make it through the winter unless I intervene.

Blue/Purple Hive

The queen in the blue/purple hive, however, shown below is doing great and I hope not to replace her for another year!

I pulled one of the frames from their top brood box, and it was not only drawn, but also almost 90% capped honey!

The real reason I wanted to check on the blue/purple hive was to see how far they were progressing on capping the super frames.

I have no idea when I should extract this super from them. I don't mind leaving it on there a while, but I don't want them to decide, for whatever reason, to open the cappings, and move the honey around.

Some of the super frames are about 50% capped, while others are much farther along.

After I removed two of them, I had room to peer down into the rest of the super without removing more frames.  I didn't want to disturb them too much.

A Question for the Readers/Commenters:
How long can I leave the supers on the hive this time of year? Do I need to remove them now, or can they stay on there another 2-3 weeks while the bees finish capping them, and/or even longer?

Will the bees decide to re-open the cappings and use the honey in the super if I leave them on there too long, or would they use what's stored/capped in the brood boxes first, should they decide they need any right now?

Since this is my first year with a filled super, I'm looking to others for advice!

Comments For This Post: (1) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Holly says...
Date:   July 1, 2011, 9:47 pm

My understanding is that the beekeeper leaves the honey supers on until harvest time (September).  Just keep adding supers to the hive. If you want to keep the wax cappings clean (i.e. bees aren't walking all over them and discoloring the wax), then put your new super underneath the full (or almost full) super. This way while they are crawling up to store more nectar, they realize they have all this empty room and need to draw more comb.  

As much as I want honey from my bees, I have to remember that I am stealing their if they need to take from the honey supers in order to feed their brood or replenish their brood box stores, then I let them.  I don't think it's fair to rob all of their food and then give them sugar syrup in the fall.  In fact, some beekeepers keep the honey supers on the hives (remove queen excluder) throughout the winter and harvest in the spring to ensure the bees don't starve.  

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