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Heavy flow in sub-tropical Aussie winter


Over the past couple of weeks the temperature has dropped to average 10c at night and 23c of a day. A couple of weeks ago on my inspection I saw that there was an increase of nectar and pollen coming into the hive, but there was frames that were empty in outer positions. Nectar and pollen is from Wattle, Banksia and Paper Bark and coast heath. Gums are coming into buds.The colonies were all in 8 frame brood boxes and have all improved and expanded progressively from earlier splits.
Ok, so the temperature has dropped and mother nature has thrown a spanner in the works with a very heavy flow with the cold weather. So the Flow supers I have had sitting in my lounge room along with boxes with wired foundation ready for spring have gone onto the hives in the 3rd week of what we call winter. Brood has expended and frames heavy with capped honey. This is happening when I expected things to quieten down.
Really glad I got things done in what I thought would be plenty of time, but I guess a temperature range of 10 to 23c just means a little later start of a morning for my Italian bees. :honeybee::grinning: I’m chuffed…


Well done Peter. The shortest day happens tomorrow. It wont be long now & we’ll be running around like blue-tail flies trying to stop our bees from swarming.


I think as I fitted the 2 flow supers and boxes with foundation above queen excluders on comparable hives it will be interesting to see and compare the results over the year. The hives now all have supers and I have hives ready for splits as well, nothing like being prepared in advance.
With the cold S/W winds we are having now that normally happens in August and signals the near end of the cold weather, I am sensing an early spring and hopefully a good season. Thoughts of others on the East coast of Australia?


Hi Peter. Yep I’m in the same boat as you in the South Eastern suburbs of Brisbane. I have nearly full flow supers on both my hives and I finally found a second apiary site in my area which seems to be very productive at the moment. I have empty hives ready to fill as soon as I can find some queens. I’m still reluctant to split my home hives due to the cool temps and lack of drones too. So, like you, I’m in the starting blocks waiting for warmer weather to enable some expansion. BUT, remember Ekka is just around the corner and you know that means…more cold SW’lies.


Hi Peter, I’m hoping for a normal winter & a gradual warming up during spring so I can get a decent garlic crop. Not like last year when one day in August got to 32degC.

Keep an eye on the bee numbers Pete. They start swarming as early as late July. A lot of swarms in August. The big swarm I got from a flow hive was on that 32deg August day.

If you see bees in the lid or roof doing nothing, it’s time to act fast. cheers

Hi @RichieRumPirate, don’t be fooled by those cold westerlies. Like I said to Peter, if you see lots of bees in the roof/lid doing nothing, it’s to to take swarm preventive measures.


Thanks Jeff. I split quite vigorously late Autumn due to a hot hive and so whilst the colonies are strong I don’t think they’re there just yet and in-fact I’ll probably end up splitting earlier than normal to cater for my expansion into spring for the new apiary site. I don’t suppose you have 3 queens spare do you? As I say I’m reluctant to produce emergency queens this time of year.


Hi Richie, no I don’t have any spare queens (I have some spare colonies with young queens). I wouldn’t think about splitting just yet. Maybe at the end of next month you’ll be safe to, which is still way before the Ekka. Only if you see lots of bees in the lid/roof doing nothing. The only caution is to not checkerboard the brood while doing the split on account of you don’t want to chill the brood. Plus keep the entrances reduced.


I arrived back home after being away for a month overseas and was pleasantly greeted with our 3 hives very busy. So much so that I had to extract 6 frames from one of the hives. I will hold off on the other 2 hives for as long as I can. Plenty of bees and obviously nectar coming in from somewhere.
I dislike extracting this time of the year as the honey is much more vicious making cleaning up a lot slower and harder. Maybe that is where the flow frames would be advantageous over traditional methods.


I’m at Coolum Beach with two flow supers and the rest of my apiary are traditional hives. With the cooler weather I think the flow hives would also be slower draining the frames but only a week ago I put them on hives for the first time so it is a learning curve for me. This past month the Paper Bark has been flowering along with Banksia, I noticed the wattle is now coming on strong for nectar and pollen.


Hello Peter
We are up near Montville so probably very simular temperatures as yourself. We are surrounded by bush but usually find it hard to notice exactly what is in flower. The bees know as they do not hesitate when exiting the hive and head in an easterly direction over the top of the house. Need a micro tracker installed on them and linked back to google maps.


Hey Alan, I think our temps would be very similar and you would have wattle flowering there also. I am now noticing the Red Gums with flower buds forming also. If you are down this way on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday drop into the Coolum Men’s Shed on Research St where I have my apiary on the Coolum Industrial Estate for a chat and a coffee and compare notes…


Hi @Peter48, the running around like a blue-tail fly started this afternoon. I found one colony with the lid full of bees doing nothing. Sure enough it had queen cells started with new eggs. Much the same as that blok’s hive I worked on last Sunday. Another colony is in the same boat, I’ll split it in the morning.


Uh oh…guess I’ll be getting into my brood boxes this weekend! Thanks for the heads up. I actually had plans to take a look as the orientating bee numbers are increasing.


@JeffH My hive management is my task for tomorrow and do splits as needed, a couple of my hives are showing all the signs of a massive build up of bees.


Hi Cathie, I’m using my migratory lid space as a guide. It’s only if I see a lot of bees up there doing nothing that prompts me to look into the brood box in this cold weather.

It feels funny wearing long johns under my bee suit to keep warm & I’m heading off shortly to do a split.


Last time we completed a thorough brood inspection was a couple of months ago. The everything then was fine and with the colder weather settling in we decided to wait until late winter when daytime temperatures would be increasing. After returning home from being away 3 weeks ago it was obvious that the hives were coping very well without us and brining in plenty of stores. I did one extraction (traditional supers) with the plan to do another around now.
Today we inspected the brood boxes and fortunately we didn’t see any swarm cells but the occurrence of drones observed for this time of year caught us by surprise. So much so that we are now planning to use a couple of frames from each of the 3 hives to create a split. I believe we have to act now or run the risk of swarming. The split and additional honey is probably not what we desired but that is probably better dealt with in a new thread. I guess as long as there is nectar and pollen around and the weather is fine the bees will keep on building up numbers


That is a good tip Jeff. I did deep hive inspections today and there was no sign of any queen cells but have taken some honey frames for extracting, heaps of honey, pollen and brood, all cells in the brood box are in use and building of comb in the supers. Didn’t see any SHB
Happy with what I found and bee number up about 50% on when I got them.


Hmmm… Because I use the flow roof and have the cutout in the inner cover covered (so that they didn’t build in the attic) I can’t tell if they are hanging out with nothing to do. I have seen more more bees clustered out front - a very small beard on one hive but also lots of activity on the landing board. The flow frames are nearly full and I am planning to harvest in the next few days. I will look carefully to see if there are loafing bees. The temps look a little lower this weekend so I’m not too keen on opening the brood yet. I don’t have your level of expertise to see things and make quick decisions so I worry about chilling the brood.


If I had the hole in the inner cover covered, I reckon 2 of my down by the beach hives would have swarmed by now. One had half an outside frame of drone brood. That’s telling.
Inspected them 3 weeks ago and still had to draw out 2 broodframes. Now suddenly I find 9kg of honeycomb in one of the roofs.
Where would they have gone if I had covered the hole? Never anticipated that fast of a build up.

As I stated before, this hole in the inner cover is a communication pathway between the bees and myself.
But then, it’s a communication type I am using that may not appeal to others.
It saved me a few swarms I think. And advising to cover the hole in the inner cover is just totally wrong.

Let them build in the attic so you can curb it. Else you don’t know they get ready to swarm due to lack of space.


I am certainly willing to remove the cover over the inner cover if it provides a better indication of what’s going on inside the hive. I do also have an ideal box I wanted to use for honeycomb which I have been wondering when to put on. I originally bought it with the hope that putting it on the flow super when the bees had not capped ripe honey would encourage them to cap so I could harvest. That did not work and I took it off when the weather got cool and I didn’t want them to have to heat it. Do you think it is worth adding now? I still need to harvest the flow frames. I know that simply adding a new super doesn’t eliminate swarming and plan to inspect brood very soon, make a split etc but I have this ideal box just sitting around and wonder if it could be useful now.