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Set up honey room - how and when?

As soon as the cherry blossoms, you should put the honey chamber on the bees - if they are strong enough. We show why it is better to set up too early than too late, which honeycombs are suitable for the honey room and why a barrier is good.

When should the honey room be set up?

  • First honey room: There is no calendar date as the vegetation differs depending on the region and weather. The cherry blossom serves as a guide for putting it on. The bees should also need the space of the honey room and occupy all of the honeycombs in the brood chamber. There are also differences in the operating methods: Those who divorced their bees in Dadant on 5 brood combs have to set up the honey chambers sooner than a beekeeper who keeps pikeperch in the two-room brood room.
  • Second honey room: As soon as the bees store the first honey in the honey room, you can give the second honey room. You should by no means wait until the first honey room is completely full. Because: the nectar that the bees collect is very wet. It can have a water content of over 70 percent. After the bees have dried it, the honey has less than 20 percent water content. The nectar therefore needs more space in the honeycomb than the concentrated honey. If you have your bees in rape, you usually need the second honey room here.
  • More honey rooms: If honey and bees run out of space, you can of course set up additional honey rooms. If you expect less forage later in summer, you should reduce the number of honey spaces after centrifuging. Otherwise the little honey is spread over several frames when it is thrown off. In addition, the bees find it more difficult to dry the honey if they have too much space.

Better to touch up too early than too late

Many beekeepers are unsure when to start up. What would the consequences be if you touch down too early or too late?

  • Touching up too late: The bees then store the first nectar in the brood chamber, which is then honeyed. If they still have cavities there, they will block them with wild construction. The bees then get into a swarm mood more quickly if it is too tight for them. In addition, the beekeeper can harvest less honey.
  • Touching up too early: When the cold snaps, the bees have to heat more space if you sit down too early.

So: the honey chambers better set up a little too early than too late.

Which honeycombs for the honey room?

  • No brown honeycombs: For reasons of hygiene, brown, incubated honeycombs have no place in the honey room. A barricade prevents the queen from coming up and laying brood there. In the past it was often recommended to hang brood combs in the honey room so that the bees can better accept the honey room. But you shouldn't do this.
  • Expanded, yellow honeycombs: It is particularly good if you have honeycombs that were removed from the previous year. If you let them lick out in late summer and sort out pollen combs (danger from wax moths) you can store them well over the winter.
  • Middle walls: If you do not have a built-in honeycomb, you can also add partitions. Here you can also mix expanded honeycombs and dividing walls. It is advisable not to hang them alternately in the frame, but in blocks. Otherwise the bees will pull out the cells even further in the already developed honeycombs and thick honeycombs will result. At the same time, the middle walls are only expanded narrowly.
  • Natural construction: If you want, you can also have the bees built naturally in the honey room. That costs the bees (as well as expanding the middle walls) but a lot of energy and thus also honey.

With or without a barrier?

The barricade prevents the queen from entering the honey room. Because: With her long abdomen, unlike the workers, she does not fit through the narrow metal rods. Drones don't fit through either.

Advantages of the barrier:

  • No queen in the honey room: With the honey harvest you never have to be afraid that you will sweep away the queen.
  • No brood in the honey room: In addition, the queen cannot breed in the honey room. This makes work easier for us beekeepers by simply getting the honey rooms bee-free with bee escapes during harvest. If there were still brood combs between the honeycombs, the bees would not migrate downwards, but would stay above the flight with the brood. This is especially important for beekeepers who have spring honey that needs to be crystallized and harvested quickly - for example rapeseed honey.

Put on the honey room or put it under?

Many beekeepers are discussing emotionally whether all the other honey chambers should be added or whether they should be placed between the existing honey chamber and the brood chamber. So: put on or in between? There are different arguments and views here. There are also differences in the bees: some like to store honey close to the brood nest, others like to store it far away. This property is called honey stacking. Above all, it is important that the bees have space when they need it.

  • Put on: The bees dry the honey better when it is close to the brood nest. That is why many beekeepers always stop and then harvest from below. Some colonies also panic if they hardly have any food in the brood chamber (adapted brood chamber) and the supplies are not located directly above the brood nest. At the same time, this panic can also drive the bees to collect even more nectar.
  • Squat: Some beekeepers like to put the empty honey space under them in order to store the honey further away from the brood nest. So the swarm instinct should be dampened. In addition, the honey is already "sorted" when it is squeezed: the oldest honey is always on top and can be harvested simply by inserting a line - without having to change the frames.

What other techniques are there?

The 12 Dadant hive has a square floor plan, so you can turn the individual frames by 90 °. It is a trick to set up the honeycomb in such a way that the combs are perpendicular to the brood combs. In this way, the bees can move better into the individual honeycomb alleys and spread faster in the honey space. If you work with an adapted brood chamber, the bees will primarily store the honey directly above the brood nest. On the other hand, there will be less honey on the honeycomb side above the cavity. If you turn the honey space by 180 ° so that the empty side is now above the brood nest, the bees fill this with honey as well.

Boris Bücheler

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Harvesting honey: everything you need to know at a glance