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Q&A: Harvesting honey the first year of a hive

Q: I’m new to beekeeping and I was wondering if you can collect honey the first year or if it should be left alone?
A: I appreciate your question.  The answer depends on the time you started your hive in the spring and how well they have drawn foundation in the hives.  If the hive has drawn all the frames in two brood boxes and stored honey in the outside frames (Honey for survival), you could add another hive body called “the honey super” which you could remove if the hive has stored honey below it.  I have seen honey bee colonies started as packages that were able to store only enough — sometimes not enough — for winter survival.  Keep in mind that a hive of honey bees require about 10 full frames of honey (these frames are usually located to the outside of the brood frames) to use for winter survival and spring build up.  If they have that and fill the honey super as well, then you could take the honey super and get honey the first year.  But in this first year, I would not advise you to go into the brood chamber and take frames of honey for your use.   If you do, it will require you to feed the hive to give it a chance to survive.
Dana Stahlman