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Bees in the Blue Mountains (NSW)


Clint, be careful with the feeding. There is a flow on in the mountains so your bees will be getting nectar from the angophoras. Keep an eye on the stored nectar/syrup. You don’t want them backfilling the brood nest.

Basically, what I am saying is that you can’t put a time on feeding. You have to monitor the stores and space in the hive.



Hi Rob,

The hive is new, with no established comb. Just 8 frames of foundation. The folks out at Bathurst seemed to think it was too late in the season to get a colony established. Others said it would be fine, just feed. I installed the package on Friday and they spent a lot of the rainy weekend indoors. There was a lot of action during short periods of sun but they did manage to go through a full feeder over the weekend. Rain is predicted all week. When it does fine up I’ll open up the hive and see how they are going. What should I be looking for at that point? My guess is they need to get storing for winter and the queen needs to start laying? Cheers for the pointers.


They need pollen to rear brood. Are they getting any?


Yes, I saw a few coming back with big balls of pollen :slight_smile:


If they are like mine in the mountains about a third to a half of the foragers are coming in with pollen. My original comment was to not just feed for a defined period but to keep an eye on the stores and not over feed. The queen needs room to lay so don’t feed them so moch they backfil the brood nest. At the moment, now the rain has stopped mine are packing in nectar really quickly.



Thanks Rob, understood. Where in the mountains are you? I visited on the weekend and even in the rain they were bringing back loads of pollen. As it was raining I still didn’t open it up to inspect. Fingers crossed the queen is hard at work. They have taken around 5kgs of sugar in their first week. I’ll stop feeding while the sun is out and hopefully get in for a look this weekend.


I am in Woodford Clint.


Does our climate warrant insulation throughout winter? I haven’t been able to find anyone specifically putting anything on their hives in the mountains, but given the timing of starting a new hive now that may not be the strongest going into winter, would it be wise to insulate?


Mine always have insulation under the roof. Helps with the heat in summer and I have no condensation problems in winter. My insulation is only a few layers of hessian bag though.



Okay, thanks again Rob. Much appreciated!


I did my first (2 week) inspection during the fine weather on the weekend and things are looking good! I was amazed how calm they were. Lots of worker brood, pollen and capped honey in the top corners of the centre frames. I’d estimate about 3/4 of the foundation has comb drawn. I was very impressed with their work. Also spotted the queen. There was some mould on the underside of the lid, not surprising given the amount of rain we’ve had. I expect I’ll need to stop that for winter. I’ve made a second roof with some corrugated sheet to keep the rain off and will get something absorbent to line the lid. Looking forward to seeing some new bees emerging next time.


Hi Clint - just letting you know I’m in Katoomba and have 1 flow hive (and currently 1 empty langstroth which I will be starting with a nuc next spring). Let me know how you go. I received my first nuc of bees late January in 2016 and fed them a little bit to get them going - they survived the winter fine. A few beekeepers in the upper mountains are slowly connecting through things like instagram and we are trying to share our experiences of what’s in flower, when there is a flow on, climate etc - so keep in touch. Cheers Katie

@Rmcpb - Rob - with your experience in the Blue Mountains, do you pack down your hives during winter? Last year I hadn’t put my super on - so I didn’t need to. This year I have a completely chocca full of bees single brood & super, and starting to think about how I over winter them. I’ve read so many conflicting advice (like removing the queen excluder) - the only consistent one seems to be “connect with a beekeeper in your area who knows what the winters are like” and whether you should or not. Would be keen on your thoughts. Thank you so much, Katie.


Hi Katie, nice to hear from you. Glad to know your bees made it through winter with a relatively late start. They had a month on mine. How much honey did they have stored going into winter?
Still looking good in my hive. I’m still feeding once a week, they’ve taken around 9kg of sugar so far. Still 3 empty frames but plenty of brood at various stages and capped honey/sugar. All the rain appears to be helping, I’m no horticulturist but it seems there are some strange plants blooming for this time of year?
Here’s a shot from yesterdays inspection.


Nice queen. Almost a “ripper” as @JeffH would say. :smile:


Thanks Dawn. Almost? How does she achieve “ripper” status?


That status is for @JeffH to know, and for us to guess… :smile:


Hi @Dawn_SD & @Clint, she IS a ripper of a queen:) They are all ripper queens. Sadly I killed a few queens last year that looked like rippers of queens. Their progeny was just unmanageable.

I’m just taking another look at Clint’s queen. She is a beauty, a real ripper:) Look at all of those lovely recently hatched bees.


Thanks @JeffH! She’s a good queen, and has been so easy to find. Both times has just appeared right in front of my eyes. I’m still scouring over the photos myself. Are the newly hatched bees the ones with their wings flat to their backs? Is there any other way to identify them?


Can anyone tell me what these calls are? Is it pollen?


Hi Clint, looks like pollen to me but its not always easy to see on a photo… the test is to pull a piece or two out with a matchstick, just to be sure its not chalkbrood which will be making the rounds of our hives after this incessant rain.