We are often asked “how much honey will I get from my hive?” and this is a very difficult question to answer as it depends upon so many things. It’s a bit like asking “how much rain will we get next year?”

Having said that we can consider the things that will affect the amount of honey you get:

How Much Honey Are You Leaving For The Bees?

A full super of honey will contain between 20 and 30 pounds of honey. If you leave them a full super for winter as against taking all the honey and only feeding sugar syrup then you will harvest 20 – 30 pounds less than if you feed sugar syrup.

Are You Taking Your Honey As Comb Or Spun Honey?

If you spin all of your honey then the bees will be able to start with pre-drawn cells and this will enable them to concentrate on making honey rather than wax. Comb honey involves taking the comb as well as the honey and so you will get less honey than if you spin the frames as the bees need to build up the cells again.

What Is The Weather Like?

A cold wet summer is very bad for honey production, as is a prolonged really hot spell. Rain whilst the best crops are in flower will dramatically reduce the honey crop as not only are the bees unable to collect nectar but they are eating stores whilst they are trapped in the hive.

What Crops Are Available?

Some areas naturally have more flowers over a longer period than others. A hive in the centre of London with access to all the gardens and parks will be able to collect more nectar than a hive in the middle of a big grain growing area with no hedges.

Have The Bees Swarmed?

If the bees are allowed to swarm then there will be a period of up to six weeks when the colony is building up again and will be very short of forager bees as it is mostly the older bees who go off in the swarm. The more the bees swarm, the less honey you will get.

How Old Is The Queen?

If bees are allowed to replace their queen naturally there will be a period of approximately three weeks when there will be no laying queen in the hive. This reduces the number of forager bees and also the honey crop.

So, How Much Honey Will I Get?

In the UK we say that an average hive, in an average position, in an average year should produce between 40 and 60 pounds of surplus harvestable honey. Although my record from one hive, on borage, in a perfect year was over 160 pounds of harvestable honey!

If you want to receive regular updates from the wonderful world of bees then please follow this link and SUBSCRIBE by filling in your email address in the bottom right hand side of the page.