Adding the flow super before winter or wait? Hornsby heights, NSW, Australia

I am from Hornsby heights new Australia.

I have had my flow hive now for about 3 months.
I did not put the flow super on as I wanted to build the nuc into a strong colony first.

I have been doing regular checks and yesterday had another check and it is thriving with plenty of frames of capped honey as well lots of brood.

In general pretty happy with it.

I am now wondering should I wait until winter has finished before adding the flow super? Or could I put it on now?

Hi Peter,
Are you running a single or double brood box? and is there a super of any kind currently on your hive? How many frames of capped honey and how many frames of brood is there?
Typically, for your part of the world, 1 frame of honey to 1 frame of brood to get them through the winter. If you are located in an urban part of Hornsby then you may get some honey over winter.

Hi Rod
Thanks for your reply.
At the moment it is a single brood box. No Super on it yet.
I picked it up as nuc at easter.
There are about 3.5 frames of honey (capped) the rest is brood.
I am in urban Hornsby Heights but directly opposite the bush.
What are your thoughts on adding the flow super or another brood box?

Hi Peter,
Not much nectar flow at the moment and the bees will be quietening down for winter, I wouldn’t put a super on till it warms up again, this will help to keep them warm over winter. Leave as a single brood box till spring.
As for single or double brood, this is a commonly debated topic in the club and around Sydney and I have asked this many times over the last few years and experimented myself. All the commercial operators in NSW run single brood boxes with queen excluders, this is also the recommendation from the NSW DPI, NSW Apiarists Assoc and experienced educators such as Bruce White. From my experience; double brood=less honey and more hassle. With some periodic manipulation of frames, the bees are quite content with single brood. This season I have averaged 120kg of honey per hive in suburban Sydney. When running the double brood box experiment, it took a long time to build them up enough to a point where they start drawing out comb in the super, as most of the honey frames were down in the brood chambers and it took a bit of calculation to figure out how much I could reasonable take from them, certainly there were more bees but also more mouths to feed. In the end its entirely up to you.

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I am in a similar situation as @Binghamsbees and live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

I got my Bees in March and just put the one brood box on with no super. They have been going hard at it and at my last inspection two weeks ago appeared to have run out of room in the frames and are still bringing in lots of pollen and I assume nectar.

Every frame was full of brood, pollen and honey and they had started to make burr comb between the frames and on top of the frames under the cover (but not in the roof cavity).

I had been told to wait until nearer Spring to put the honey flow super on, but I thought they looked like they have been going so well and apparently needed more room.

So last weekend I put the queen excluder and honey flow super on and am hoping things go okay. (They had already started building all the burr comb that I had removed the weekend before!) There isn’t a great deal of activity up there yet but I have only looked in the windows and can’t see much. I did lift the roof (but not the inner cover) and there are bees around the hole during the day, so it means they are going up there.

What do you think? Have I made a bad mistake?


Holy moly!


No, I don’t think so. If the bees are up there already, I wouldn’t worry too much. You can get around this by placing a hive mat on top of your brood box, this will help to keep them warm over winter whilst still allowing bees to go up into the Flow super if they need to. A piece of cheap lino offcut will do the trick nicely.

This photo is courtesy of the Australian Beekeeping Guide 2015.

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So I decided to open the hive for an inspection on Saturday when it was warm and sunny and see if they bees have been doing any work in the flow frames.

I had opened the lid on a few occasions and noticed the bees had been coming up to the top (through the hole in the cover), so I expected some action.

I opened the roof and took the cover off, and there was some burr comb on top of the flow frames joining to the cover, so I cleaned that. There were some bees, but not a lot in the frames, but when I pulled up one of the frames, there was no nectar or any cappings. I pulled up the next, and nothing. I pulled up all of them and there was not one drop of nectar in any of them.

Highly disappointing.

So i decided to remove the super box altogether and go back to just the one brood box and wait until Winter is near an end.

So at this point, I don’t know if it is just the bees thinking they don’t have enough resources (due to Winter starting) to start filling the flow frames (even though I see a lot of bees still coming back with pollen) or they don’t like the frames.

I guess I’ll just have to wait until Spring, and then put the flow super back on and hope for the best.

Hi Justin, sorry to hear that but don’t worry too much. Come spring your bees will be raring to go. Overwintered bees perform much better than spring bees or swarms, just hang in there.

Hi Rod
Fretting about my beautiful bees…we finally populated our flow hive this November…all has gone well…queen in situ…all brood frames heavy with brood n honey…flow frames now 90 pct full… queen excluder still on… …what now for winter?
Sally and Poppy

Hi Guys, so are your Flow frames 90% full? You’re in Pittwater so what winter? 3-4 frames should be left for the bees over winter and the rest you can harvest if they are full. The two outer frames in your brood box will become honey so 6 or so frames for winter is fine in Sydney. Check monthly in the super to see how their stores are going.

Good to know thanks Rod…I have six more supers and am wondering if the bees could use another box on top? Or wait until spring?..they get plenty of morning sun so are still quite busy
And I’m guessing the queen will stay down in the brood box over the next few months…

Hello Rodderick- can I ask- in a non-flow hive- do you run a single brood box with a QX- and leave one super of capped honey on top over winter for the bees? Or do you overwinter with just the brood box? If you leave a super of honey on- do you leave it full or do you rob some of it in late Autumn?