For those who are fascinated by bees, beekeeping is a wonderful hobby. Many of us can cite many reasons. These include the ability to gather honey. For a new beekeeper, honey may even be considered the number one reward. How much honey can a beehive produce?
The amount of honey varies according to conditions. Also, ask twenty different beekeepers and you may get twenty different answers. A commercial beekeeper in California says on his website that a single hive in the United States can produce 10 to 200 pounds of honey a year. Meanwhile, the British Beekeepers Association says the maximum weight is 60 pounds.
When you’re ready to harvest honey from your hive, it’s important to have the right equipment so you can do it efficiently without wasting too much honey. Consider investing in a honey extractor that not only speeds up the extraction process but also keeps the hive in a frame for bees to reuse.
Why Such A Difference? What Factors Affect Annual Honey Production?
- Colony size and health,
- Hive location,
- Available plant life,
- Climate and seasonal conditions,
- Competition and predation,
- Parasites and disease.
As a beekeeper, it is not important to estimate how much honey a hive will produce, but to do your best to maintain conditions conducive to maximum yield. Focus on the quality of life of the bees, they will take care of the honey.
Find out how some of these factors determine how much honey a beehive produces each year.
Extreme weather conditions are not good for bees. Overall temperature and rainfall determine how often bees leave the hive to forage. If the wind is too strong, the bees will not leave the hive. This also applies when it rains. As temperatures rise and bees have more time to gather pollen and nectar, you can expect more honey.
Of course you can’t influence the weather. But this is just another factor to consider when estimating honey harvest. Better climate means better weather, and bees can spend more time foraging. Warmer climates may also mean longer flowering periods. This auspicious season is called the flow of nectar.
A good long nectar flow means increased honey production.
It’s no secret that bees need nectar from flowering plants to make honey. It is important to consider the location of the hive and whether there is enough flowering vegetation to support the hive’s honey production.
Generally, bees forage within a three-mile radius of the hive (more can be added if needed, but this will tire the bees and make honey production more difficult). Keep this in mind when setting up the hive location. But don’t worry, urban areas can also provide quality food for your bees. You just need to poke around your area during bloom to check. You can even use Google Maps to view the content.
If you don’t think your area has enough flowering vegetation, try to reach an agreement with a local allotment or community garden. Bees are excellent pollinators, so all plants benefit from their presence!
Diseases And Pests
During a season, bees can be attacked by many pests and diseases.
Varroa mites can be one of the worst mites because they cause colonies to collapse. These critters attach themselves to bees’ stomachs and suck their blood! This spreads the virus to the bees. Nosema is another common disease in Western honeybees. This is a microorganism that occurs mainly in spring and can cause dysentery. Another common bee pest is the wax moth.
In short, just like humans, bees are also affected by a range of pests, problems and diseases. Infected colonies will be under stress, which will reduce the honey production capacity of the bees.
Sometimes wasps appear to snatch honey from the hive. Another swarm of bees may also come to rob your hive, although this usually happens when the invading colony is struggling to find enough food to feed itself normally. So it doesn’t bode well for your own colony’s ability to sustain itself.
Robbery situations can be handled in a number of ways. You can narrow the entrance to limit predator access and allow the guarding bees to do their job more efficiently.
As part of your beekeeping routine, try to observe activity at the entrance to the hive to check for robbery. Also, make sure your hive is clean and there are no tools or hive parts around that have been contaminated with honey.
What Is Honey?
Honey is a sweet, sticky substance produced by several varieties of bees as a byproduct of foraging. The most familiar honey is produced by bees. Its sweetness makes it an ideal condiment for toasts, pancakes, and other dishes. Some people use honey for medicinal purposes.
Honey is a food source for bees. What is not immediately spent on feeding the larvae is stored in the beehive. It is stored when nectar is expected to be scarce during the year. In other words, the purpose of long-term honey storage is to keep the colony alive in the fall and winter.
By building beehives and controlling their location, humans have managed to convince bees to produce excess honey that we can pick for ourselves. It’s almost safe to say we’ve domesticated bees, although that’s not entirely true if you stick to the strict dictionary definition.
Why Do Bees Make Honey?
Well… let’s take a step back. Why do bees make honey? Our step-by-step guide on how bees make honey details how bees make honey – from collecting nectar to sealing honey-filled cells.
Bees make honey so they have food to survive the winter. Unlike other insects, bees do not hibernate in winter. Instead, they form a flock around their queen to protect her and keep her hot. They generate bee cluster by vibrating their bodies, and this movement requires a lot of energy. Bees feed on the honey they store during the warmer months to survive the winter.
Read our article on overwintering beehives to learn more about what bees do in the winter.
I've heard that a worker bee produces only 1/12 tsp of honey in its lifetime!
Therefore, there is a difference between the amount of honey produced in the hive and the amount of honey we can extract from the beehive. Luckily for us, when the season is good, bees produce more honey, creating a surplus for our own harvest.
How Much Honey Do Bees Need To Survive Winter?
A good, stable colony can produce double or triple the amount of honey to get through the winter. In this case, excessive intake of honey is not a problem.
The amount of honey you can harvest from bees depends a lot on your climate and how long the bees have to spend before foraging again. For example, in warm climates, bees can live on as little as 40 lb (18kg) of honey. In cooler climates, they need up to 93 lb (40kg) to survive the winter.
It’s hard to predict exactly how much honey a hive will need, so beekeepers tend to play it safe and leave more, not less.
Excessive taking of honey from hives will only starve the bees, but note that beekeepers can also feed the bees with syrup after harvesting, if necessary, to make up for the colony’s lost honey. In some cases, I’ve even seen beekeepers return part of their harvested honey to keep the bees alive!
A good pre-harvest hive inspection can help you gauge how much honey you should keep. You can use the leftovers for morning toast!
How Much Honey Should Beekeepers Leave Behind?
Bees produce honey because they don’t hibernate in the fall and winter. They remain active in hives. Therefore, they need food. It’s sweet to her. It is a sustainable food source for overwintering.
It is estimated that a well-managed bee colony can produce 2 to 3 times as much honey as winter needs. However, there are no set rules for this. It may take a while for new beekeepers to know exactly how much honey to leave behind at harvest. As a new beekeeper, you’d better proceed with caution. Leave more than you think you need.
Also keep in mind that climate can affect how many bees need to keep. In climates that prevent bees from venturing from November to March, a hive can require as much as 100 pounds of honey. In warm climates, bees are only trapped in the hive in January and February, and only 40 pounds is enough.
If a beekeeper accidentally consumes too much honey, sugar water or syrup can be provided to the colony as a supplemental feed.
How Many Hives Should I Start With?
As a new beekeeper, you may be wondering how many hives to start with if you want a lot of honey for consumption or sale. Maintaining multiple hives can be daunting, but hobbyists are advised to always start with two. Why? Because you can compare behaviors and patterns with each other.
This is a great way to learn about typical bee behavior. At the same time, you can discover unusual behavior that may need to be addressed. Also, it is easy to balance two hives by adding bees to the weaker hive. It doesn’t take much extra time to take care of extra hives. A typical hive inspection only takes about 15 minutes per hive.
If you’re worried about confusing bees with two close-by hives, don’t worry. Each hive has a unique scent that the bees can decipher. Bees tend to be alone so they don’t bother each other there. You can place the two beehives a few inches apart to make it easier during routine inspections. Try to keep hives at least 8 inches apart.
Keeping two beehives will not only get you to know the bees quickly, but you will also get double the honey!
Think About How Much Honey You WANT To Produce
For many beekeepers, honey is the main reason for beekeeping. But if you’re not interested in just profiting from bees, you might also want to ask yourself, “How much honey do I actually want to produce?”?
Beginner beekeepers are advised to start with two hives. The reason for this is that there can be a lot of problems in your first year, and if you need to deal with a problem in one of the hives, with two colonies you have more flexibility.
Let’s say you have two mature standard beehives and a high flow of nectar this year. You might end up harvesting 200 pounds of honey. Do you really want to know how much honey you want?
I heard that many beekeepers give up beekeeping not for bees, but for honey!
One way to limit honey production might be to choose a smaller hive first (8 boxes instead of 10) and try to manage your colony so you don’t get engulfed in honey!
On average, a single hive can produce 30 to 60 pounds of honey. However, under optimal conditions, a single hive can produce up to 100 pounds a year. Many factors determine how much honey a beehive produces each year. These factors include weather conditions, hive location, disease and pests, and the potential for predation by bees.
Remember, bees make honey to get through the winter. Instead of hibernating, they huddle together to retain heat and protect their queen. They need an energy source to keep them working during the warmer months to make and store honey.
Always remember that honey belongs to the bees first and foremost. Make sure they have enough honey to get through the winter. Then enjoy the direct source of pure natural honey!