First winter season

Hi, new to the forum but I’ve done a lot of reading. I’m based in Perth Australia and am coming up to my first winter with my flow hive. Perth winters are relatively tame compared to other places in the world but was hoping for some advice.

I have read about taking the super off and storage so I understand that.

Currently my super has pretty much full frames apart from 1 frame. I was planning on harvesting the honey this weekend or next. It still seems like the bees are filling frames even at this late stage as we transition in autumn. We have had a hot summer and temperatures are still quite high (high 20s) although things seem to be cooling now.

As the frames are mostly capped, I presume I’m best to just harvest and then possibly look to supplementary feeding if things run low in winter?

Some of the topics talked about feeding the honey back to the bees, how do I actually do that?

Other topics suggested moving the frames so the bees can clean them out. Again, practically what does this look like?

I’m also planning on inspecting the brood box after the harvest, but have I got this the wrong way around? Should I inspect first and then harvest? Even if I found low stores, what would I do as I still need to remove the super.

Thanks in advance

Hi Grumpybum

I have pondered the same questions as you. I live in Mildura, which is kinda similar to your climate I reckon. Hot summers, beautiful mild Autumn in high 20’s till a cold winter arrives around June.

So what I did was remove the supers on my hives after harvesting. Moved them 20 meters away & let the bees clean them out before storing.

Then I put the smaller ideal size boxes on the hives with wax foundation frames for them to store whatever honey they are still collecting in to support them over winter. That being said, winter days here are still sunny & from the past 2 winters I have observed they still are active enough to forage & support the hive. I never supplement feed them at all, there is no need.

Here is a photo of my ‘over winter’ setup taken this very moment ( I have a camera watchin my hives 24/7 ) :smiley:

Cheers RYan

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Hi & welcome to the forum…

Be aware that bees will start packing honey in the brood frames, at the same time as they constrict the brood as we approach winter. Sometimes we’ll find 2 full frames of honey on the sides, plus decent honey arcs above the brood, which is likely to be sufficient stores to keep the bees going during winter, especially if the bees are in the suburbs where there is always something for bees to forage on.

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Hiya Grumpy, Perth is a large area and beekeeping, although the basics remain the same, can be site specific. Coastal, Hills, metro, North and South all very different ecosystems therefore different management systems may apply throughout all our seasons. Here in my area of the Scarp although the Marri flow is over Eucalyptus Rudis, flooded gum is about to flower so the supers stay on.
Once again, here in my area, there is ample forage throughout winter so the supers are removed around mid May.

Hi Grumpy,
Here in Victoria, we’re enjoying some warm autumn temperatures so I’ve delayed packing down my hives in all but two, as the rest of them are still brimming with bees, foraging and activity. If you’re still in the high 20’s then you might wait a bit too, but beekeepers in your area will give you a better idea.
On one hive, I added a clearer board* between the brood box and the flow super, then came back the next day and removed the flow super. I then harvested the honey from the frames (still in the super) and collected the honey from the capped frames separately from the honey in the uncapped frames. The uncapped honey will be fed back to the bees. I then returned the (harvested) flow super back to the hive. I will collect that again today (24 hours later) as the bees will have made it spic and span. The flow super will then be stored for winter. I’ll freeze the frames too for a min of 24 hours, just in case there’s any wax moth around.
In your case, when you think it’s time to take the super off, harvest the honey, then leave on for 24 hours for bee clean-up, then remove for winter. You could also harvest a frame or two now, then when you harvest the remaining frames, you still drain those frames (plus any other uncapped frames) and save for the bees.
I wouldn’t leave frames out in the open for bees to clean up. It’s also illegal in Australia.
The uncapped honey can be fed back to the bees, if and when they need it. I feed them using a rapid round feeder, a jar feeder or in zip lock bags. The first two methods are great as you don’t have to open the hive to feed them.
I agree with Beaver about adding an ideal for winter but that just suits my climate. Beaver’s is warmer than here so for me it’s way too late to add an ideal super with new foundation on it. I do that in summer when the activity and foraging is higher and when the size of the colony requires it.
When deciding on when to remove the super, I also try and judge if the bees will fit in the brood box without it.

  • For me clearer boards (I think also called closer boards) have been really useful in getting the bees out of the super prior to removal. They can get quite irate when you steal their honey :face_with_raised_eyebrow:. I even made a vertical clearer board for my horizontal hive.
    I hope this helps. It’s just a matter of what suits your situation and climate and there are many alternatives. This just works for me.

Thanks all for the help

I lifted the super off today and it was a disaster. I thought I’d share my lessons in case another beginner stumbles across this thread.

Last weekend I drained all my frames except 1. The reason I left the last frame was that it was only partially capped. I had this weird logic that if there were no bees in the super I wouldn’t hurt them when harvesting.

Today I lifted the super off and moved it to the side of my house. My basic issue was it still had honey in it.

When I tried to drain the last frame with the moved super I had bees everywhere. When they were on the hive the bees weren’t interested because of the direction I.e. it drains opposite to the entrance.

When the super was removed I had bees everywhere. As a consequence I then had honey everywhere and then bees in honey and well…. Disaster!

I also underestimated the amount of bees that follow the super to get the last on the honey.

So my basic lessons are
1, drain the honey on the hive. Don’t move the super first.
2. Set up the new area ready for the super and expect bees to follow or stay
3. Limit the time between draining and moving. In the 1 week the bees put about 100ml of honey into one of the frames further exacerbating my problem

These are probably obvious to experienced people. I hope this helps some beginner sometime in the future

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It’s always these ‘disasters’ that stick the lessons in the most firmly :exploding_head::rofl: That’s a good list, and good of you to post it for others :+1:

I offer a replacement item for #2: place your fully drained super above the inner cover, under the roof, for a day or two. The bees will clean it up and you won’t have a messy spectacle.

Apologies Grumpy for not being clearer. I remove the bees from the flow super using a clearer/escape board then take the flow super inside for harvesting. I find it easier to harvest without the bees as I can get a much better look at the flow frames and deal with any leaking issues. I then go through a similar process to enable the bees to clean up the super for 24 hours, before removing it for winter. If you don’t have a clearer board for the last clean-up of the flow frames, Eva’s method works a treat.
I also harvest frames on the hive during the season.
I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties and hope you weren’t too grumpy :wink: