A Year at Bees of the Woods Apiary: October


To read the rest of this month-by-month beekeeping series, click here.

One thing I worry about with my hives is – do they have enough food for winter?  Having a hive starve to death during the winter seems awful to me, since it is such an avoidable problem.

In my part of the Northeast, the general rule of thumb seems to be about 100 pounds of honey per hive to make it through winter. What I always have trouble with is – how do I know if they have 100 pounds?

Estimating Hive Weight

One way is to estimate by lifting the hive – not actually trying to lift the entire thing, but lifting it from the back so it “hinges” forward on the front edge. Here is my rule of thumb — if I can’t lift a hive at all, it should be all set for winter. If I can hinge it, but with difficulty, it may need a little supplemental feeding, but it would probably be ok. If I can lift it easily, I know there is a problem. In this case, in addition to feeding I will also add another super of capped or partially capped honey that I saved from extracting.


In general, this seems to work.  We have not had issues with starvation in our beeyard. However,  it is not very accurate.  Some beekeepers have rigged up scales, etc. that sit underneath the hive so you can always tell the weight. In our case, with 18 hives and full time jobs, we haven’t had time to do that.  So this year we decided to try a new gizmo that our local bee supply company carries, Fischer's Nectar Detector. This is a handheld hive scale.

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