First month for new hive

Hi Dawn,

I just checked the hive. I took off the flow super - it has nothing in it, just some curious bees.

I then checked the brood box, and noticed that the bees are building on the plastic foundations, however, there is very little honey in the frames. Most of the frames have brood with most empty, and I couldn’t see any pollen at all. Last time I checked a couple of weeks ago, there was more honey, and the plastic foundations had very little built on them.

There is a lot of activity around the entrance of the hive with bees coming and going. Should I fee the bees? Is it normal for there to be little honey? I’m in northern Brisbane, so would think there is lots of pollen etc around for the bees at this time of the year.


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can’t speak to your locality- but int he world of bees things can change quite dramatically from week to week. if there is a prolonged period with rain the bees stay in and eat up honey stores. At other times during the honey season - there may be lots of activity- but very little nectar. At times you see frames with extra honey in the top areas- and then a week or two later they are empty. When hive is still establishing- they may not have a lareg workforce avialabel to collect nectar and it’s common to see them with very little if any stores- as they grow they eat what they have- and also eat a lot of honey as they make wax and fill out their combs then they hit a level of population where they have a large force able to go out and collect- and start storing the excess. So it may just be a perfectly normal situation like that.

However at times when there is little about- bees can become hungry and start robbing other hives. So be sure to keep an eye out for that. Generally I have only experienced robbing going into winter- but our climate is very different than yours.

Thanks Semaphore, there is plenty of activity in our area currently. I assume therefore that the bees are using up the honey to fill in the new frames with comb.


I would feed the bees a 50/50 mix of white sugar and water. put it in a screw top jar with a dozen small holes in it and fit that on top of the top frames and fit another super box to enclose the jar of syrup and refit the lid on the hive. nothing wrong with a second jar either. The bees will take up the syrup and boost the bees in making bees wax for comb as well as a food supply.
While the hive is building up there is maybe not enough bees foraging for nectar and pollen to feed the colony, feeding them over that period will help. So yes there is pollen and nectar about but your hive is not yet strong enough to benefit from the foraging at the moment.
Keep the Flow Super off till the brood box is 90% of the cells in use for brood, some pollen and honey; and when you lift out a frame you are stunned to see so many bees on the frame, then it is time to add the Super.


You have already had some answers, but I would leave the Flow super off for now - you did the right thing there.

I would feed them if they have no stores. Spring and summer feed should be 1:1 white sugar in water. I have a very easy method for dissolving it which avoids any danger of HMF (caramel product) forming. Bring the water to a boil in a large pan. When it boils turn off the heat, and take the pan off the stove. Add the sugar. Stir well and walk away for 10 minutes. Come back and stir once more. It should all have dissolved at that point. Let it cool to 37C or less before you use it on the hive.

You are making good decisions, well done. :blush:

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Thank you Peter and Dawn.

I mixed the sugar / water mixture 1:1, but did it just by rocking back and forth the bottle I had it in. It dissolved easily - about 15 mins. Does it necessarily need to be heated first? Does this make a syrup type mixture rather than just dissolved sugar?

I have put the top board on top of the brood super with the hole open, then a spare super on top of the board with the lid on. On the top board (in the spare super) I put a couple of bits of untreated wood. On those I put the jar upside down with the holes on it. I thought the use of the top board would be helpful to avoid unintentionally drowning the bees due to the holes being too big (as I did originally found out). That incident left a puddle on the top board, where bees were sitting around having a drink. Is the top board ok to use like that?

Not at all. You made it perfectly. It just dissolves faster if heated. :blush:

Yes, but you will need to check again in a few days to a week to make sure they are not building around your feed jar. Bees are tricky things… :wink:

Yes, but you will need to check again in a few days to a week to make sure they are not building around your feed jar. Bees are tricky things…

So I am learning.

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One of the best insights for me is that you have to learn to think like a bee.

Many humans have dogs or cats as pets. They are mammals and they love to play. It is pretty easy to identify with another mammal and work out non-verbal communication.

Bees are different. They will not really fully receive positive signals from you and remember them. They may see you as a foe, or as neutral, but they will not see you as a friend. They work for the good of the whole hive, and they don’t think twice about dying for it. If you are a problem, they won’t hesitate to attack. They won’t play with you, but they do play to learn how to make queen cells, in case they are needed.

One of the best things you can do for your hive is to learn how to think like a bee (learn bee biology and their priorities) and then work with that. It isn’t hard, but it is not human either. :blush:

Just random weekend musings. :smile:


I put the flow super on my 2 month old hive about 2 weeks ago. I lightly painted some melted wax on all sides of the plastic frames. The bees were up and working it in day one.

Now 2 weeks on, there’s lots of activity up there and they’re busy sealing all the gaps in the plastic comb. Nectar flow seems to be just picking after a dry winter so hopefully we’ll see the first honey soon.

Not sure if painting the wax on helped them get up there fast… Guess it couldn’t have hurt.



I painted on melted wax on the Flow Frames on one of my hive and left one unpainted to see the difference. The waxed frames were being worked on after two days. After 6 weeks the unpainted hive frames were basically ignored so I waxed them and after two days it was very heavy with bees. It works Ron,

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What did you use to paint them? A regular paint brush (nylon or ?) or a roller? I used a roller on my first one, scratched on a bar of rendered wax on the second super and now I’ll try your method.

I used a really crappy(worn out) paint brush that I dipped in melted reclaimed wax and painted the wax onto the frames as you would with paint. A covering of the ends of the cells seems enough to do the trick. I think the smell of the bees wax gives them incentive to go above the QX and then they find an unused storage area for the excess honey.

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You are assuming correctly Steve. The bees consume extra honey to make wax, in your case, to build out the comb. That the girls are not storing what you might think is not much honey, the reason is that they are busy making wax. I have hear 8 kg of honey is needed to make 1 kg of wax.

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That’s interesting! How does it work out for the sugar water and wax production if you happen to know that.

Thanks Peter. They seem to be slowing down on their sugar syrup consumption. In the first few days, I would check a couple of times a day, and they had gone through both jars I had on top. Recently, they are not getting through a jar in one day. I assume they have all filled their bellies up and don’t need as much. I am keeping the jars there until the bottom super is full, and ready to put the flow frames on.

I also used a cheap paint brush to paint the plastic foundation and it worked.

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Try keeping it going until the bees stop feeding on it.

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An interesting question Martha, sadly I haven’t got a clue to answer you. Sugar syrup is certainly a stimulant to have bees produce wax but it is a bit of a wild guess as to how much can be attributed to the syrup and how much is natural instinct and conditions at the time. That would also vary depending on the quality and quantity of the nectar being foraged at the time. That sort of data and variables is beyond me.
Did you watch the video on “How not to care for bees”? The post is on the forum. Watch it and you will stop calling yourself a novice bee keeper.

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Sorry for the late reply but I enjoy the birds in our garden as well as the bees.

We accept our bee losses from bird predation, but we have so many Kangaroo Paws and other natives the birds find getting their fix on flowers is an easier option.

Hi Peter, It’s Steve again. I have been continually feeding the bees the 1:1 sugar water solutions, except for two weeks thinking they would be ok, but then started again as they didn’t appear to be building any more honey in the combs. There was only half of one side of a comb of honey.
I’ve also just read that the honey production in Queensland is poor this year due to the dry weather. I assume therefore that I will need to feed them throughout the rest of summer, and also in Winter.
My question is whether I should change from the 1:1 sugar water ratio to a ratio of 2:1 so that they store the syrup in the combs to get them through winter. Your thoughts?