Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Adding a second brood box. Fish Creek, Victoria. Australia

Hi any advise please on how best to prepare for winter in South Gippsland, Fish Creek. Very cold and wet for Australian standards.
Last year I had a small hive and wintered them in just a single brood box. I insulated the underside walls and roof. I left the ventilated roof on. When I inspected at the start of spring they had survived however no honey reserves.
This season I added the flow super and 2 weeks ago the hive had almost capped all the flow frames. I am planing to harvest some honey next week. I don’t want to leave the flow on over winter but are concerned about the number of bee’s as both boxes are packed with bees.

Im thinking of adding another brood box when I harvest the honey and let them clean the frames off for a couple of days and feed any uncapped nectar back to them.

Is it too late mid Feb to add another brood box to give them more room.

If I don’t and remove the super in a month will the bees have enough room in the single brood box.

Hi @Creeker,

When weather gets colder, hive population shrinks. Eventually they will be able to fit in one box.

You still may try. Give them another box and see how far they can get with buildout. You can always remove unfinished box when population shrinks and store it till the next spring. [Wax moth could be a concern]. Worse case scenario - they won’t build much, but it will give them room for now.

More interesting question, how are you going to provide them with winter stores? And how much are you planning to leave them for winter?

1 Like

Thanks ABB.
What sort of percentage shrinkage can I expect in population for winter. I was planning to leave all stores that’s in the bottom brood box and anything they collect in the new brood box. I have a feeder and was planing to place any uncapped nectar from the flow in it and then as the weather and activity changes wrap both broods in insulation. After that I wasn’t planing to feed.

Am I being too concerned about bee numbers and one brood box will do. As I’m seeing many flow operators only operate with one brood box.

I was hoping that by having 2 brood boxes come spring I could do an early split.

It will depend on your climate, and how big the colony got during the summer. However, it isn’t unusual for a population to peak at over 60,000 bees, and shrink down to 15,000 during the winter. So @ABB makes a very good point, they definitely will shrink unless you live in a subtropical or tropical climate.

One other thought, instead of adding a deep brood box, you might consider adding an “ideal” or “WSP” (in the US, I would suggest a medium). They have far more chance of filling a lower capacity box this late in the season, and it won’t cost them as much energy to heat it over winter. :wink:

1 Like

Thanks Dawn. Definitely not Subtropical climate. As I’m new to this I might wait for numbers to decrease and stick with the single brood. I don’t have an ideal or frames but will look into that. I also don’t have scales to weigh and see what stores they will have for winter. How many as a min fully capped frames should they have in a single brood to get them through winter. I can’t recall last winter what they had but it seams they just got through which I’m grateful now that I insulated.

If I did ad a second brood would you recommend moving some of the fully capper frames up into the centre of the new box and add new frames on the outside of the lower. I wouldn’t be able to do this with an ideal.

I also read about putting the new brood under the existing. Any recommendations.

That is difficult to answer. If they are insulated, they will need less. Most colonies need 30-60lb of honey to make it though winter. A fully capped frame has 5-8lb of honey in it, just so you can do the mathematics. If they don’t have enough stored honey, you can supplement with syrup, candy or even sold sugar, but of course honey is the best food for them.

Definitely not. This is called "checker boarding, and I would only do that during a strong nectar flow in Spring.

You can do that, but at this time of year, I wouldn’t disrupt them any more than you have to. Just my opinion. :blush:

Thanks Dawn.
Here is another thought I have had overnight. Fish Creek is our weekend place and we live in Melbourne. The winters here are way milder than at Fish Creek and far less wind and rain. I was thinking of moving the hive to our Melbourne place for winter. If this is recommended when should I do this. Sooner or closer to Winter.

Hi. I’m in Kongwak and I tend to leave my hive as a double deep over winter and then put the flow super on and off once the hive gets going in Spring. I get frosts here (? 10/ winter) but the bees seem fine and I don’t insulate. I think insulating can cause all sorts of other problems. Your situation is a dilemma and I think you have a few options that are all quite reasonable: You could just take the flow super off and leave them as a single brood box when you close it down for winter . However, autumn is often quite sunny in Gippsland and there should be flowers around so I might take the flow super off early after harvesting and then put the second brood box on and just leave them be. I wouldn’t be interfering too much, and I think taking them to Melb would be a lot of effort for little gain. I remember seeing a post from someone who left the super on so that is a third option- harvest the super and then leave it on over Winter. You need to make sure the queen excluder is on as its hard to get brood out of the super (been there)

P.S. I’m happy to talk to you by phone if that helps.

Hi @GmcGrace I’m just wondering what problems insulating a hive can cause.

I’m also wondering if any hives were not insulated enough in Texas at the moment, with this unusual freeze they’re experiencing right now.

Thankyou Gmc Grace.

I would be keen to have a chat to you over the phone. Can you email me colinvandyk@gmail.com your phone number and ill give you a call or if you prefer I can email you back with my number. not sure I want to put my phone number on this public forum.

Hi Jeff. I think our climate here is much milder than some of the U.S. I’m not sure where you are. Victoria (where we are) is notorious for 4 seasons in one day so I think the chances of condensation in the hive are high. We might get a frost that freezes the surface of a bird bath only a handful of times in the year. So it is very different to Texas.

A strong colony usually gets rid of condensation. I think insulation can be confusing. We insulate ourselves as well as our homes during cold weather, why not our hives? The same insulation that helps the bees to keep the hive warm in the winter, also helps the bees to cool the hive during the summer. If the bees experience 4 seasons in one day, they’ll quickly change their strategy as the day goes on. Sensing organs in their antennae can detect a half degree change in the temp. They will adjust what they’re doing accordingly so as to maintain that constant temp around the brood.

Bees react quickly to their changing environment. You’ve seen how fast they get stuck into eating honey with the first puff of smoke. You may have also observed how quickly they move into water shedding mode if they get rained on. The same thing would happen with a sudden drop or rise in temperature.