The key characteristic of the type of honey bee kept by beekeepers in the British Isles is that the bees make more honey than they can use. This honey is stored above the colony.  It is this surplous honey we take for our own comsumption. 

I have one honey crop a year. This is taken off the hives in late July or early August.  I assess how much the bees will need for themselves and try and leave enough honey in the colony to ensure winter survival.

Taking the honey crop marks the beginning of the new year for beekeeping. At this point we start preparing our bees for winter. The hives are checked for food stores disease and the conditions inside the hive ( e.g.waterproof, plenty of ventilation, roof likely to stay on in a gale). At this point we also help the bees protect against robbing by wasps by closing the hive entrance right down, enabling the guard bees to do their job.

Over winter we continuously assess the stores in the hive and if necessary prepare to feed in an emergency, say after a late and harsh cold spell in early spring.  Any food we give the bees is consumed rapidly and will not go into the honey stocks.