Any advice coming into spring

Hi everyone

We’re located in the lower Blue Mts Just west of Sydney. We installed our brood box and NUC in January this year, and the colony got busy filling out the frames. We then installed the super in March, once the brood box was about 80% full. Plenty of bees have been up to explore the flow frames, but we haven’t had had use it to store honey as yet. We tried brushing a few of the frames with melted bees wax as suggested. It was a warm Autumn with plenty of nectar and the colony remained active, even during winter. Now as Spring is just around the corner, any advice on how we can get the bees to take to the flow frames?

Cheers, Jim

from the looks of it they are building out the frames. Looks like some honey in there

Have you taken the flow frames out individually for a closer look?

Also, they are unlikely to take to them until they really need to… really need the space. Because they are plastic, they are always going to choose wax frames first, so unless all of your wax frames are full of brood and stores, they don’t need to shift up into the super. Especially at this time of year. As soon as a full on flow starts you should be sweet.

Thanks for the replies. I haven’t opened it up since winter started in June. From the side and back windows there aren’t any stores in the flow frames. I’m not in any rush, just want to make sure I should be doing something different to entice them up to the flow frames before the weather warms up.

I would not be worried at this time.
From what I have read and seen (me being a sort of newbee) bees will follow the seasons instinctively. That is come short days and cooler temps they say "this is winter let’s maintain the hive"
Come longer days and warm weather they say “Spring is in the air, lets get cracking and build the able bodied workers up first and then start lay down some stores for next Winter” I believe that just because they have plenty of blossom around, the girls have to be in the mood to complete the various hive tasks. That’s Spring and Summer for honey production.
As you get closer to the tropics where the day and nights tend not to vary in length the hive activity will be different.
Just my take on it.

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Next warm day you have to go in and have a look. With this being a new hive I would work on getting the population up before putting on the flow super. A strong hive will produce excess honey, weak/small hives just maintain their stores as they are using them to expand their population.


P.S. Mine are hauling in the nectar but they are big hives.


Your hive is still very young Jimmy. Did you put a hive mat over your brood during winter to keep them warm? If not, then this could be part of the problem. The Flow box is a big empty space and difficult to heat so chances are they are chewing through what little stores they have trying to keep the brood chamber warm. Has there been any large nectar sources in your area over winter? For me, there has been scribbly gum and stringybark in Sydney, and I was able to extract 20 kilos off my hive last weekend but the cold snap this week will have them eating all their stores again. Its a roller-coaster.

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It looks to me like the bees have filled out all the cells and started depositing honey- that frame is well on its way. If the colony remains healthy- and the weather is good- I predict full flow frames as soon as there is a good nectar flow. I would also guess that if you looked now in the super there is a chance some of the central frames already have capped honey on them. On our hive the bees worked the middle frames first and the outer faces of the outer frames last. Also looking at the rear of the frames was not a perfect indicator of how much honey was in them as the bees seemed to leave the rows of cells at the ends empty till last.

Many people would have recommended that you remove the flow frames over winter (which is what we did). However I am not totally sure if that is always necessary- a lot of it depends on the size of your colony and your local climate. Looks like your bees came through winter reasonably well. An inspection of the brood box would confirm if that’s the case or not.


On warmer days or our later winter I take a long stick n reach the bottom. I try to scrap out some of the old dead bees that have fallen n now pile up on the SBB or Solid Bottom Board. Too many dead bees often restricts bottom access in/out. Just an extra thought … Later as worker numbers grow the bees will start cleaning up on their own.

That’s my 2 cents worth bro,

G’day Jim, coming into spring we need to be focused on swarm control. You can open up the brood & move a couple or 3 frames of brood above the QX & replace them with fresh wax foundation in a checkerboard fashion. While doing this look for any signs of swarming. See what your mentor/s think, cheers. PS the honey will surely come later.

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Strong hives produce honey. Work on getting your hive strong then the honey will happen.



Well what a difference a few weeks makes!! Spring has really kicked off in the mountains with the wattle in particular really taking off over the past month. I hadn’t checked on progress since I asked the forum for advice a few weeks back, so we were all pretty excited yesterday to find 2 flow frames full a another 2 about half full. So we completed our first harvest of the 2 full frames. Everything ran smoothly, and the bees didn’t seem to become agitated at all. We didn’t experience any overflowing or leaking back into the hive.It was about 3pm and overcast when we harvested. It took about 20 mins to fill 4 medium size jars, about 3kgs I guess. Definitely a sweeter smell, like sticking your face right into a mixed bunch of fresh flowers. And the taste seemed to be more delicate than bought honey, lighter and distinctly sweeter.


Well done, did you physically inspect the frames to see if they were capped? The reason I ask is because 3 kilos sounds about right for one full frame, not two. A test for ripeness would be advised if you didn’t intend on using it quickly.

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Thanks Jeff

No, I didn’t complete a full inspection before harvesting. I otherwise would have but I was short on time. We could see wax capping on the sides of the full frame through the back window, limited to the last few columns, and made a judgement call from that. Fortunately, it looks, smells and tastes like honey. Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to accessing ripeness, or do you need one of the measurement devices?

Hi Jimmy, a refractometer would be handy, but not essential. It’s good to view the whole frame to see what % of the frame is capped. If you don’t intend on selling the honey or trying to store it for any length of time, you don’t have anything to worry about. You can do a simple test for your own piece of mind. Here’s my video of it.

I hope you find my video to be helpful. cheers


Thanks Jeff. Great video. Will look into getting one.
So I opened up the hive this weekend to take a look at thhe flow frames. Happy to say that the frames I harvested one week ago are already half full! One thing of interest was the pattern the bees were filling and capping the cells. I was led to believe they fill the centre cells first and work their way to the edges. But in this case they were doing the opposite. No drama, but kind of contradictory to what I thought, and knowing when to harvest.

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They will do it the other way around if they think the queen needs space to lay. Your colony is expanding, so they are probably leaving space in the middle for brood, even if she can’t lay there.


that’s interesting- we also run a single brood box and we had the same pattern- holes left in the center of the frames until last:

is it possible you would get this pattern more in single brood box hives?

jeff’s system looks pretty foolproof but there is another quick field test:

there is indeed a ‘rule of thumb’ - Literally:

apparently- if you don’t have a refractometer - you can grab some honey between your thumb and forefinger and pull apart- the honey should be able to span between finger and thumb for around half an inch (12mm) before it breaks. We did this test with our honey and it passed- and later we tested with a refractometer and the honey was around 18%.


I would imagine so, but you could always test it! :smile: