Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

1st Winter in Byron Hinterland


I’ve 3 hives, all appear healthy, at the end of summer I added a WSP 3/4 Brood box on top of each hive for the hive to expand into.
3 months on, none of the hives have expanded into them. They each have a approx 3 frames of honey in brood box and varying a numbers of frames upto 3 in the Flow Hives.
I’m wondering whether I should remove the WSPs over winter and add in spring time ?
I’d be interested in hearing, especially local peoples thoughts and their current experience


Hi Jonathan. We are in Upper Main Arm. I took my ideal box off the bursting flow box end April, because the bees ceased putting nectar into the comb. The major flow must have stopped and they went down to concentrate onto the flow frames again that I had harvested. Recently in bad weather I noticed the bees tuck into their stores. Currently they bring in a lot of pollen. I had to check my hives today due to AFB in the neighbourhood. The bees started rearing brood in big numbers and orientation flights also show greater numbers than before.
I reckon you should take that box off for now. Too much space to keep warm and SHB can move in.
We have a beekeeping group down in the Mullumbimby Community Gardens. If you want to come along, the next meet is 5 August, 9am.


Thanks Barbara, I met you one morning with the Science master down at his place back in the summer.
Appreciate your advise, yes checked hives today and quite a lot of Small hive beetles, so re filled all the traps, but will take my 3/4 boxes off.
I’d love to come down on the 5th of August, where bouts in the gardens is it ?


Yes, I thought I remember your name.
The meeting is at the community gardens at the end of Stuart Street, behind the tennis courts. Just come in, if you are on time you’ll find us at the rondel, not far from the gardens entrance. Bob is back by then too.
Barbara, yes, but I’m known as Ki’a’i, using my middle name the last 20 years.
Well, see you soon then. Take are of those beetles!


Hi Jeff, yes, I was wondering about the swarming season to come soon. We had so much pollen with the wattles flowering. The queens certainly fill out the broodframes with fresh eggs quickly and there’s a lot of capped and just hatching brood. Now my Hawaiian ti plant (a type of huge cordyline) plantation started flowering. The bees take a bit of pollen of that too, but mainly nectar.
Wow. My first swarm season is coming.
I reckon we may be a couple of weeks behind you. We had 3 weeks of rain in June locally and I think the bees are working on refilling their consumed stores. There were no drones either and I didn’t see any drone brood yet. And no swarm cells. Would that be a sign that we may be a little further yet from swarming? What do you think? You would be best able to interpret the signs with your experience.
I’m holding a close watch at the moment.


Thanks Jeff
I have 3, two with them on and 1 without, so will watch closely to see how they go


Ah yes. My biggest hive started to build comb between the top of the middle frames and the QX. No brood in there. Good you mentioned it, coz I didn’t make anything of it. The bees still have the outside frames in the brood box to fill as yet. I suppose that only takes a couple of days if the queen is on fire, and there is only honey in the very frame corners and good pollen in a wide arch. The frames are ready for the eggs - lots of eggs.
I fed one of my overwintered nucs recently with 500ml of sugar and 500ml of water. Boy, are they powering! The neighboring nuc was a little larger and wasn’t fed, they seem still in winter mode. The fed nuc is going bonkers with bringing in pollen. That is actually the 2 frame nuc with a limpy queen that you gave me advice on @JeffH. I replaced the queen eventually in May, till then they had no foragers.
It shows that feeding 1:1 sugar syrup really encourages brood rearing. Gave them another sugar syrup bag yesterday and nothing to the others. Good to explore the difference.
The local natural beekeeping group promotes letting the bees swarm and have traps out. They say it’s better for the bees.
I have been considering this, but I’m a bit apprehensive due to living next to the National Park. I read ‘Honeybee Democracy’ and can’t be sure the bees would vote for my trap rather than the millions of trees around here. I might even miss the swarm altogether when I’m in town at work. From then on my bees would become a biosecurity hazard. Not good with advanced AFB just 800m away from me.
Like Jeff, I will attempt preemptive swarm control, watching like a hawk.
Jeff, I really appreciate your advice here on the forum. I may do things differently in some ways as a hobby beekeeper, but I will always consider your advice based on your experience. It’s wonderful that you share it so freely.
There are more like you on this forum of course, Dawn, Chili, too numerous to mention, but you and Roderick are more local.
Cheers from the Weber mob.


Hi Jeff, do you have a video or have you posted about preemptive swarm control not necessarily just a split, if so I’ll do more searching. TIA


Thanks Jeff very much appreciated

Dum spiro, spero


Hi there, Just wanted to ask a question re: swarming. Im in NSW between Newcastle and Taree. Started my flow hive in Dec 2016 with prepared Nuc with 5 frames. from a local beekeeper. Bought to my place and 1 week later I put my 6 flow frame box on. 4 weeks later it was full. Because being new to this decided not to take to much honey, anyway they went great guns and then decided to put another box with 8 waxed frames on top of brood box for winter. 2weeks later all 8 frames were capped with honey. Drained out flow frames as I wanted to remove and use 3flow frames with 4 normal frames. and split hive to make another. Took it off, let them clean it, but took my time to remove and they started to fill with honey again. On 12th June removed flow and cleaned up frames. I will be going away soon and to avoid swarming whilst Im away,and after talking with my mentor today we decided to take 2 brood frames from brood box and place in above box We put 2 waxed empty frames in brood box. That left me with 2 normal frames fully capped. . Would there be an issue if I place those 2 honey capped frames and 2 empty frames along with my 3 flow frames, back on top now, or leave until September.?? Then when I return started on the split. My hive is very well protected from bad weather and temps. no lower than 6 degrees at night. August forcast is for mostly sunny days getting higher temps. half way through August.


Thankyou for the reply.


Wow Gayle! Full flow box 5 weeks after getting a nuc? Were they new flow frames? That’s so fast, you must have had a grand flow on.
It is said we had a bad nectar season up North. I was real happy to be able to harvest 14 weeks after installing my first nuc and I thought that was fast!
I am not local to you and too new to give advice, as Jeff mentioned, @Rodderick is your best bet.


Hi Gayle, its still a bit early to be adding supers on top, making splits and manipulating brood. You may stress the hive in doing this. I am in Sydney and have the same weather patterns as you. I run all single boxes with a super for winter stores and a hive mat in between, any more boxes and the bees will struggle to keep all that space warm during the cold nights. Swarm season starts in September however I will be implementing pre-emptive control measures in mid August this year. The first move will be to assess the honey/pollen frames in the brood box… the outer frames (one on each side) will be honey and they will be moved up into the super and replaced with foundation frames. 2-3 weeks later in the 1st week of september move another 2 honey or pollen frames up into the super and this time alternate the foundation a couple of frames in on each side. Repeat every 2-3 weeks for a couple of months. This is my method and whilst its not 100% sound in preventing swarming as there are many other causal factors, it definitely helps.
I’m not a fan of hive splits but saying that, I may change my mind in the future… such is beekeeping… we keep trying new things! Most importantly, the cold is your enemy in beekeeping, you should place a priority on keeping them warm in winter. 34C is needed and the bigger the house the more energy and food they will need to keep the colony alive. Hope this helps.


Thanks for your reply. The only reason we have done this swap is because I am away until September and there is nobody about to watch hive for swarming, which I have been told could happen middle to end of August, I would rather take this risk than lose my hive, which is very strong.We did this quick swap, and I hope it all works out. As soon as Im back we will assess and then see what needs to be done. I think I will leave my flow box off until I return.


Yes it was a nice surprise. Put flow box on10th December and it was full by 8th January. They went straight up to the flow box. Put another box with 8 normal frames in between the brood and flow boxes on 10/4/17 and it was fully capped a few days later, unbelievable. All flow frames also full so took that honey off on 17/4. Left them to clean up and removed box on 12/6 (a bit later than I wanted to leave it} as they had started filling again. I plan to do a split later and use 3x flow frames for each one with 4xnormal frames. I did not put anything on flow frames to attract them up there. My mentor was surprised, and this was the first flow hive he had seen.


Hi Rod. Thanks for sharing your swarm control method. More ideas to draw from. Going into my first swarm season with 3 hives: 1 Italian, 2 Carnies.
Just remembered that my Italians had all 8 brood frames full of eggs and all stages of little dudes for a while. Would be no honey/pollen frames to shift.
I assume the common denominator is to keep the bees busy and purposeful at that stage - and watch out for swarm cells!
I did put an ideal foundationless box above the almost full flow box. That kept them at bay. The only reason they didn’t swarm was probably it was already February.
Jeff gets ready for swarm control about now. We are only a couple of weeks behind down Byron. It all depends on the weather and what kind of gum tree decides to flower.
@honeylove. Can you mix and match normal frames and flow frames in regular flow boxes without alterations?
Where are you exactly? I still marvel at your bees’ productivity and speed.


My mentor here in California has an interesting method for deciding when the swarm season starts. When he sees the first drone brood in his hives in winter, swarming becomes much higher risk 6-8 weeks later. Last year it was in mid-December, so he began pre-emptive measures in mid-January.

I guess you could transpose that to the southern hemisphere. If you are seeing drone brood reappear in mid-June, now would be the time to start swarm prevention. Of course if you have a climate like @JeffH, you probably never lose your drone brood, so you just have to know your local seasons and be vigilant all year. :blush:


I am close to the coast near Bulahdelah. I have taken 3 flow frames and put 2 normal frames either side. I have made 2 pieces to fit either side of flow frames so the bees cant jump on you when you open to harvest. The idea is that they will keep filling those 3 centre flow frames.When I return I will make 2 more boxes and the top one will have the same. And @Dawn_SD there was drone brood in my brood box so I am thinking we have made the right decision as my mentor suggested. Lots of fireweed and gum blossum coming out already, along with other flowers