Last Updated on April 16, 2022
When we start planning our beekeeping business or season, we often get tempted to predict the output. How much honey per frame? This is a rather variable figure and depends on management style and bees. To help you with your planning let us delve into this a bit.
How Much Honey Can We Expect Per Frame?
We basically have two types of frames for which this is important to answer the question in a Langstroth hive. A deep and a shallow frame. Some people use mediums, but we will not go into those here. A deep frame is the largest frame we use in a Langstroth hive and a shallow frame is the smallest. Typically there are ten of either frame type in the corresponding box designed for that frame.
We would normally place the 10 frames in a box using foundation wax to center the bees, who will then draw and fill the frames according to their rules of bee space. We can then use a very clever trick – if we remove these frames, spin the honey out and return the frames, we can put either 8 or 9 frames in a box and space them correctly and the bees will draw these out a bit deeper according to their rules of bee space.
What this means is that we can get way thicker frames and have fewer frames in a super. Because the cells are really deep, laying workers or queens that sneak up into the supers will not get any stupid ideas about laying brood in the supers. This makes for a lot more honey per super, and a lot less work per super.
This also makes the “How much honey per frame?” question a bit more complicated to answer than you may have thought.
Deep frame weight when spaced 10 to a box and filled with honey – 7.5 lb plus or minus half a pound.
Deep frame weight when spaced 9 to a box and capped with honey – 8 lb plus or minus half a pound.
Deep frame weight when spaced 8 to a box and capped with honey – 9,5lb plus or minus a half a pound.
These are very rough estimates as we say – bees do their own thing – different races have different levels they dry honey down to, influencing the density of honey. Different flowers produce nectar with different moisture levels and some of these allow the bees to get even more density into a unit of area. But the above is pretty accurate rough figures for you to work with.
With a shallow superframe, the actual volume of honey per frame is a lot less. But we see a similar improvement in volumetric efficiency with decreased numbers of frames per super.
10 frame spaced shallow super – work on about 3 lb honey a frame.
9 from spaced shallow super – work on about 3.5 lb honey a frame.
8 frame spaced shallow super – work on 4 lb honey a frame.
So now we have roughly covered the question of “how much honey per frame?” by looking at the pounds of honey per frame. This leads us to a few important facts about this.
How Much Honey Can One Hive Produce?
This depends on a lot of factors! It will depend on the race of bees, where you are keeping them, and what the available forage is. It will also depend on if you migrate the bees, or leave them in one site per year, and how much time and feed you put into managing the hive.
An important factor to remember as well is that the photoperiod during a honey flow influences overall peak production. If you are in Saskatchewan and working buckwheat and wildflowers and the sun comes up at 4 am and sets at 9 pm, your bees will be able to produce a huge amount of honey if you have managed your population of bees right and are using a good bee strain adapted to the area.
I have seen places where people get as little as 20lb honey per hive per year, and other places where the average can be 10 or more times that. There have been beekeepers who have produced so much honey that their hives actually collapsed under the weight of the supers.
Ask around in your area to find out what the amount of honey beekeepers get on average from their hives is. Remember that beekeepers are a bit like fishermen and guys on tinder – they exaggerate the sizes of things ever so slightly to quite extensively. So listen to the “amount of honey old-timer beekeepers got in the good old days” and just remember that was probably one hive out of a thousand that produced 400lb in a season. The others were maybe 60-80lb or something like that.
How Much Honey Will Bees Consume In Winter?
This really depends on your climatic zone. There are places in the world, for instance in the southern US where bees can actually produce honey in winter. In more northern climates bees will shut down for the winter and form a cluster and consume honey.
You will typically find that a local beekeeping extension officer or beekeeping association should have some pretty good rule of thumb weights of a hive needed to ensure a relatively decent hive survival rate for winter. Typically you would want the bees to have at least one deep box with 10 frames of stored honey (70-80lb or so) but I will not write down an actual number here because it varies so much from area to area. But it is very important that if you do overwinter your bees that you install some sort of dry sugar feeder system. This will both help to provide a bit of sugar for the bees and remove moisture from the hive atmosphere.
I hope this has helped you figure out how much honey per frame you can expect. Beekeeping is a lot of fun and has some rules, which the bees will break. If you enjoyed this article, please share!
How much does a deep frame of honey weigh?
This will depend on how you have spaced the frames in the super - 10 frames give you frames that weigh about 7.5lb plus or minus half a pound, 9 frames 8 lb plus or minus a half, and 8 frame spacing gives you true behemoth frames at 9,5lb plus or minus a half.
How much honey do bees need for winter?
This will depend on where you are and how cold your winter is. But as a rule of thumb there is almost nowhere on Earth with a winter that gets more than 20 days of frost or colder where the bees will not be better going into winter with at least 80lb of stores. Remember supplemental dry sugar feeding for moisture control. Your local bee association will know the ideal hive weight for winter survival in your area.
How much honey can you harvest from one hive?
This depends where you are. In a dry arid region you may be lucky to get 10lb, and in a Eucalyptus forest you may get so much your hive collapses under the supers. As a rule of thumb work on 40-80lb minimum if you work the bees well. You can get a lot more if you work the bees well, and you can get a lot less if you mess the hives up.
Pounds of honey per frame?
This depends on the size of the frame. Deep frames are heavier than shallow frames and frame spacing also makes a difference to the mass of a frame. Sadly, to get the answer to these questions, please read the article - there is not enough space here to answer this.
Dr. Garth A. Cambray is a Canadian/South African entrepreneur and beekeeper with 28 years of experience in apiculture and specializes in adding value to honey. His Ph.D. research developed a new advanced continuous fermentation method for making mead that has resulted in a number of companies globally being able to access markets for mead. His company, Makana Meadery, exports honey mead to the USA where it is available to discerning connoisseurs. He has also developed technologies to commercially manufacture organic honey vinegar in Zambia for export globally. He holds a few patents globally in the ethanol industry and believes in technology and knowledge transfer for human development and environmental sustainability. One of his proudest achievements is the fact that the wind farm he started at one of his old apiary sites has essentially made his hometown carbon neutral.