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Have almost no honey coming into winter in Melbourne, what should I do?


probably last good hive inspection today… T27 and v little wind in melbourne
one of my hives has almost no honey, certainly no capped honey and only a few brood cells. there was x2 of SHB that have met their maker, otherwise all good altho not a full hive of bees

i understand i need to feed but wondering why??


Hi Dennis, it’d be good to see some photos of the brood. “Only a few brood cells” doesn’t sound very good.

You would need to feed the bees if they have no honey reserves to fall back on. With no honey, the bees will die. Honey for bees is like electricity for our lights. White sugar syrup is a good substitute for honey.


This time of year use 2:1 syrup so they stack it away.



Agree with Jeff and Rob. Feed. Pics of brood would help to diagnose. But it sounds your bees are starving. Feed.


thanks folk… have included foto of middle frame… on this frame some larvae, small amt uncapped honey [there is no capped honey on only frames] i guess from what u have said they have used up their stores… anyhow feeding them now +++


Hi Dennis,

For some reason your bees were not able to gather sufficient stores for themselves. I notice that you said,

which made me wonder what your other hives were like. I then looked at your profile which indicates that you just have just the one hive. Is that correct?


evening… no have x4 hives now.
one had capped honey in almost all frames in the second super
one has brood box with excluder and flow hive on top… i have harvest x2 flow frames and left the other 4 for the girls over winter.
one has capped honey in the middle 6 frames
one is hopelessly slow yet been around since jan… it had small amount of capped honey about 6-8 weeks ago and now none


Hi Dennis, ok, gotcha now. I had one good hive this season, and two duds. The duds were troubled by chalkbrood, and I assume the queens are not much chop. I fed the duds and boy, did one of them in particular suck up the syrup. I’m not sure about Melbourne, but been pretty dearthy here for a while. Compared to spring, not a lot producing too much nectar it seems. Still see pollen coming in.
The colonies are just so dynamic, that is what gets me.


Two points:

I would not worry about the weak hive. Let it go and do a split from one of your good hives in spring.
You should remove the flow super over winter in case the bees go up there to feed and leave the queen behind. Supers over a QE should not be on over winter.



Hi Rob, @Rmcpb

On another thread recently, @Rodderick posted the following…

“Hi Jack, whilst down in Victoria for an Apiarists conference in 2016, there were many sites throughout the farms and paddocks in ready for the almond pollination at the end of winter. The commercial guys mostly run single boxes, all the doubles in the photo as an example were single brood + QX + super. This was taken near Yackandandah (not far from Albury-Wodonga).”

…and earlier on that same thread he said…

“The commercial beekeepers in VIC and lower NSW do not remove the QX either,”

I had previously thought like you,

that the excluder should not be in place with honey stores above it in winter in say Vic/Tas. … quite confusing :dizzy_face:


I have no problem with QEs as I don’t use them but you have to with the flow supers. It would be OK if you could guarantee that the queen would not be isolated but you cannot. In a normal hive you can just take the QE out but you can’t with the flow super.



Hi Rob, yes I see what you are saying, and I must admit, I would probably be too cautious to winter here with a Flow super on, with or without an excluder.

I am concerned for anyone in the position of Dennis, where he has set things up with winter stores in his Flow frames in his Flow super. Removing the Flow super as proposed means removing those stores doesn’t it? I can’t figure out how he would get those honey stores into the lower box for the bees to use over winter?


Its rock and hard place stuff Dan. The super needs to come off and the hive would probably need feeding over winter. Maybe putting in a sugar cake would help in this case.

This raises the point that people need to ensure the bees have enough before putting a super on. That makes it easier.



Thanks Rob,

@cottles Hi Dennis, I’m wondering if you got some advice (other than from the Flow forum) that it would be ok for you to leave your Flow super on over winter?


thanks dan and rob… i had not thought of the QE being an issue although i understand now it could be a BIG issue. think the safest is harvest the honey, will make the family happy anyhow, and take off the flow and feed over winter.
i appreciate your insight


Hi Dennis, well you will certainly get more honey for yourself. This question (leaving the Flow super on in Victoria) has come up a few times on the forum. I feel we ought to be able to say one way or the other with a good degree of certainty, whether the bees will leave the queen underneath the excluder in Vic in winter, but unfortunately it seems not. Melbourne is cool in winter but has mild winter days. Bees are out foraging every day all year I would think. They may well have brood all year. There must be thousands of Flow hives in Melbourne so there should be some sort of consensus emerging from the collective experience surely?


I found something that might help. See the link here. The idea is that the Flow super could be left on so long as there is a box of honey above the brood box. I guess you would need a biggish colony for the space. Scroll to “As slow as a wet winter”.