Dandenong Ranges In Feb

Hey all

New Beekeeper here. I got my bees in nov and they have been steadily building out two brood boxes. I did an inspection today and I’ve noticed a bucket load of pollen stores but little in the way of honey stores.

Just wondering if that’s common for the area (sylvan/mount evelyn Vic), and what local beekeepers do this time of year. I see some of the eucalypts are just now starting to flower too which I figure will help


Hi Chris,
I’m in a rural area of the Surf Coast Shire in Vic and while it’s not like for like, it hasn’t been a good season for nectar. I’ve had to start feeding a couple of my newer (smaller) hives. I’m waiting for the manna gums to start flowering to hopefully get the bees back on track. My strong hives are going ok but I’m not expecting much honey from them. The manna gums are my most numerous species in this area so fingers crossed.

I would recommend helping them out with a feed assuming you have no super. If they don’t need it, they’ll leave it and you can always remove. My guess is, it’ll be gone overnight. If the eucs are just starting to flower though that may solve the problem for you but you’ll have to keep checking their stores.

One thing I’m a little unsure of though and perhaps others could chime in. It’s summer here and trees are very late in flowering from heavy spring and early summer rains. With the smaller hives struggling, I’m not sure whether to feed 1:1 or 2:1 sugar syrup given the time of year. They certainly don’t need to draw out comb. I’m just trying to carry them through to the next flowering burst and if then necessary, into autumn. As a result, I’ve been doing a little in-between and will probably gradually increase to 2:1 the closer we get to autumn.

PS. It seems they’re having the same issue in WA so check out the ‘Flow in Perth’ thread too.

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Thanks @Outbeck . I’ve been contemplating whether I should feed them. They do have some sparse capped honey on their brood frames and some nectar cells but they seem to be consuming it as fast as they’re putting it down really

No problem. For me, what you are describing is enough for me to warrant feeding them. If you want to test the waters, put some sugar syrup in a ziplock, put heaps of pinholes in the top and put above the inner cover in the roof and give the bees access to the roof (if they don’t have it already). Check the next day and if they haven’t touched it, leave it for a few days before removing. If it’s gone, put two more in and remove the empty one. If it looks like they’re wolfing it down, think about jar feeding them using your empty flow super to house/protect the jar (plenty of info on jar feeding if you do a search).

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I’m in Kangaroo Ground and are having the same experience as OP. I have 2 hives, one new hive that I’ve been feeding to help them get established, over the last 2 weeks.
The other hive has a full to bursting brood box but basically no honey stores. They starting using the flow frames but all that honey is gone and there is almost nothing in the brood box. I’ve put a smaller feeder on with about a litre of 1:1 sugar syrup to see how quickly it goes. Not sure what else I can do, I just wish the banksias would start to flower.

Hi Cirode,
I have my bees in Upper Beaconsfield and that too are in the same situation. There seems to be a late flowering of most trees, especially the gums. Hopefully there will be a honey flow soon if the weather decides to be more normal.

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Just following up here. I’m interested in others experiences in southern Victoria right now. We’ve had good weather but I haven’t seen a honey flow and both my hives haven’t produced much honey at all. I fed one hive for a week as they had no honey stores some time ago.
I inspected them yesterday and there were supplies around the edges of only 6 of the 8 frames. The end frames didn’t have much at all.

Is Canberra close enough to be helpful? :slight_smile: Our hives (one overwintered first year, two from splits/swarm) were adding lots of honey to ideal supers and flow frames till end of December. In late January they was clearly less honey in the flow frames then the month before, and it only started to increase again in the last week or two. There is now finally clearly more there now than it was three months ago. They also all have full ideals for winter, and we are hoping for the first Flow harvest before the end of the season - lots of trees blooming!

Sorry for the late reply but in the dandenongs in vic my hives still have little stores and i’m heavily feeding them with sugar and fondant

Hi Mike,
Just chiming in here late. The poor season has continued. I was hoping for a good finishing flow with the flowering of messmates and manna gums in autumn. While the bees have certainly been busier, it was more of the same. I’m anticipating 5-10% on last year’s harvest in total. I run with a brood box and an ideal over winter (plus one horizontal flow hive) and all the hives have managed to fill those. Of the 10 hives I have, one was sold, one was lost to ants and I will be harvesting a small amount of honey from 3 of the 8 remaining hives (two flows and a conventional super). I’ll be keeping an eye on the hives to see if they need feeding through winter. It’s just been a dud year with low nectar levels. Fingers crossed for next year.

Thanks for the replies. As I’m new it’s good to see that my hives lack of stores are not unique. I thought about an Ideal but it is now too late so I’m busy feeding both my hives to help them build up enough stores for the cold weather.
I think for the spring I’m going to put a second brood box on when it’s needed and put the flow hive on top of that. Hopefully that will maximise honey production. Right now I’m going to get nothing for this season.

Can I ask what sort of feeder you use?

I use rapid round feeders slotted in the inner cover hole. I find them the easiest to use and the bees aren’t disturbed when you feed them. It means you can feed them about a litre at a time or thereabouts. I’m not sure one would fit under a standard flow hive roof but it’s easy to either whip up a shim or buy one. You can get both from the Urban Beehive and I’m sure plenty of other suppliers. (Tip - pour slowly when filling as you can drown bees as it fills up)
There are plenty of other options - jar feeders (in the roof) and ziplock bags but personally I would steer clear of frame feeders (a pain to refill and in winter it’ll be too cold to open the hive anyway) and external feeders which encourage robbing.

i use a rapid round feeder under a flow hive 2+ roof and it sort of fits but not well. There is also a square version which works pretty much the same though which firs under the flowhive roof a lot better which i now use

Feeding wise i gave feeding fondant a try. while they are eating it, they seem to treat it as a store to be eaten from as opposed to something for them to process and store themselves. i’ll be switching back to 2:1 syrup today and using fondant as added stores over winter only