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Hello from Newcastle NSW


Hi everyone. I’m a newbee, obtaining my first Nuc colony early October into a flowhive. Took a basic beekeeping course from a local business. Have had great advice and support but would like to connect with others in Newcastle who have successful flowhives in the area for discussions and advice. I was recommended to add an ideal (simply for the bees own source of food, which I will not harvest) once my colony established and strengthened before adding the flow super.
The super has been now added on top of the ideal for several weeks now and the activity up there is ever increasing.
Everything seems to be going well. I am just thinking ahead of time and planning what I need to be doing for the upcoming autumn and hoping that there are sufficient bees to maintain both supers and whether the configuration I have, of flow super on top of the ideal is best as we head into the cooler months to come or if I should reverse this configuration?


Pretty common concept in certain parts of Australia. You would do well to follow the advice.

I would leave it that way up, and if the Flow super empties, and the ideal has space, take off the Flow super, leaving the ideal on the hive. If you don’t do that, the bees have extra space to heat over winter (not good for them), plus depending on their genetics, they may feel compelled to add propolis up the wazoo (not desirable) to the gaps in your Flow frames. They seem to do this more in autumn and winter - best to avoid if possible.



Thanks Dawn. I am worried if the flow doesn’t fill before the cooler months are here, that as you say, the bees have too much area to heat and maintain. What would you suggest if the the frames aren’t filled and capped in the flow super by the cooler months? Leave it on until it’s filled, or remove and store somehow?


Bees usually fill supers from the middle outwards, unless one side of the hive is warmer than the other, in which case, they start filling from the warmer side first. Personal observation, not scientific truth. :wink: Also complicated by the consideration that if they need more space for brood, they will leave it as an arc in the middle of the honey super, even if you have a queen excluder on the hive.

So, if you get to the end of your nectar flow (for me in the north, that happens in July/August), inspect the super frame by frame. If some frames are mostly capped, harvest them. I have a honey refractometer (about $40 on Amazon or eBay) and if the the harvest is less than 18% water, it is good honey.

For the partially capped frames, last year, I harvested those too. Some were 25% water, but most were less. I kept each harvest separate, and the higher water content extracts, I fed back to the hive that they came from, keeping them frozen until the bees needed them. That hive is doing brilliantly this year, so it seems like a good strategy.

In your case, I would take all of the frames off at the end of the season and harvest whatever you can. Then plastic wrap and freeze the Flow frames for at least 48 hours to destroy wax moth and small hive beetles. Store the empty frames until next year, and read any other comments (there will be many) which appear here. :smile:


Dawn, thank you so much for your advice. Although I’m a newbee, I have followed the flow forum to read as much as I can. I see you are a very valued and well respected “Queen bee” so I am honoured that you have taken time to reply to my very basic question.
I hope one day to gain a small fraction of the knowledge you have in beekeeping so that I can maintain and expand my hobby.


Hi Daw - I live up the coast from Bac and am spending my night shift (nurse) looking through the forum to find some information on what to do this coming winter. Are you suggesting above that Bac removes her super?
I have a similar situation and when I look into the window it looks like the bees have almost filled my 3 flows (I’ve got a hybrid) and I have 4 full frames of honey in the super - do I harvest all in a few weeks and remove my super?
What do the bees eat in winter if you removed their super?
Thanks for your help!


Yes, especially if other beekeepers in your region normally do that with their hives.

That is what I would do.

Some beekeepers in Australia put an ideal or WSP super underneath the Flow super. When they take the Flow super off, they take the queen excluder out and leave the WSP for the bees to eat over winter. Your local traditional beekeepers will be able to tell you whether they do this. It depends on your exact climate, and your winter nectar flows. Some parts of Australia have nectar flow all year round, so the colony doesn’t need that extra super.

Assuming your climate means that bees do need the food in an extra super, and you don’t have that ideal box full, I would still harvest the Flow super and take it off the hive. If you don’t, the bees have to heat the space, and in winter, they tend to propolize the Flow frames if they are not using them. Also, if you leave the QX in place, the queen may get stuck on her own below it, and freeze to death. I might even keep the harvested honey and feed it back to the bees over winter, if they need it. There are various feeders available from beekeeping suppliers which are suitable for this. :blush:


Thanks Dawn! Very helpful. Just when you think you are getting more knowledgeable you learn so much more!


Hi Stacey,
Hope you now have all the knowledge you need. Being on the eastern seaboard has so many advantages and you shouldn’t need to remove supers over winter. There is a general rule for winter that we apply here in NSW, that is “1 frame of honey for every frame of brood”. And by using a hive mat on top of your brood box not only helps keep them warm but it slows down the consumption of their honey stores. It’s a simple rule that works. My bees go into winter with a half box of honey and emerge with a full box but this is specific to where I live in Sydney with flowering scribbly and stringybark. For the Flow hive I leave on 3 Flow frames for them and leave the empties in the hive. Additionally, as the weather cools, the bees will move honey to the outer frames of the brood box for insulation, make sure you leave these honey frames exactly where they are.


@Rodderick has just very tactfully said that you may not need to remove your Flow super. :wink: He is a very nice guy, and said it very gently, but you need to listen to him.

As you can see from my profile, I am in California, USA. The information I gave you is based on bee biology and general climate methods. The reason I advised you to contact local beekeepers is to get the quality of advice that Rod shares. I can’t ever outperform that local knowledge, so please listen to him. Even so, if you are at altitude, or you have long nectar dearths in your microclimate, you may still need an additional ideal/WSP box of food for the bees. It is all about knowing your local region.


Thank you Dawn. Sydney is only 2 hours south of where I live so conditions are very similar. I will seek Roddericks advice.


Hi Rod, I live in Newcastle and have quite a green belt of native trees around us as well as established gardens. I have only started keeping bees since October las year and have quite a nice healthy colony of friendly quiet bees. They have filled and capped an ideal of honey and I added the Flow super several weeks ago. Last weekend I inspected the whole hive and all is going well. The middle Flow frames are about 1/3 full each and there is activity on the others but the super is not covered with bees. As I am not familiar with the flowering plants in the area over Autumn and winter (from a bee’s perspective), I am wondering what to do as winter approaches and would love your local knowledge.
my current setup is: brood box, queen excluder, ideal (full of honey), Flow super.
As a novice, I am unsure whether I have the bee numbers to maintain this setup throughout winter, so wondering if i need to remove the super, and whether I need to remove the queen excluder between the brood box and the ideal. At present there still seems to be enough flow to watch and hopefully have the bees fill the super or at least several frames, but as the weather turns colder, I want to have a plan to action.
I haven’t as yet joined the local beekeeping club which I intend to do, just a little apprehensive about whether the members are on board with Flowhives, so I am hoping this forum connects me to other Flow users that are local.
Appreciate your thoughts


Hi Barbara,

Like you, I’m new as well. I have read a fair bit into this, reviewed most of the info on this site and spoken to a few long time Beekeepers in my area about wintering for my area (Wollongong). There is no substitute for expertise.
For what it’s worth - I will be leaving the flow on over winter as from all the information I can gather they will have enough to get by. My setup is a double brood box, Qx then Flow super on top.


Thanks for the reply BayoNat! With your 2 brood boxes you probably have a strong enough colony of bees to maintain the temperature. At this stage I think I might leave the super on and move the Qx up between the ideal and Flow super. Thats my thinking so far, but I am open to all opinions and suggestions.


Hi Barbara, you don’t need to move the QX, the bees will be fine. Bees in this part of the world continue to produce young over winter and they will not leave them behind and move up. With regards to your ideal super, you do have 2 and a bit more months of potential honey flow before winter sets in. Personally for me, I would harvest the honey in the ideal frames then return the stickies for the bees to clean up and deposit into the Flow frames and remove the ideal altogether. Then leave the Flow super on over winter.
Alternatively, Leave as-is and harvest the Flow frames when they are full, this maybe April or May, then remove the Flow super and store safely and hygienically.
There is a chance that the ideal may crystallise, it really depends on the nectar source and temperature. Just bear that in mind. Some of my hives won’t eat crystallised honey in the comb, don’t ask me why… I’ve asked them and they didn’t respond… :open_mouth:


Another Winter tip is to over-winter with only 2 boxes… i.e. brood + super … 3 boxes is a lot to keep warm at night


Thanks Rod, your advice makes perfect sense. As you say, I have a couple of months yet to go so will decide which alternative closer to winter. I appreciate your input.


Hi Rodderick, if I harvested the ideal and returned the sticky for the bees to clean up, would I place it above the brood box below the flowsuper or above the flow super?
Also do you use a hive mat during winter, and where is it placed?


Hi Barbara, you only need to place the stickies on top of the Flow super, it should be clean in a day or two.
I like to place a hive mat in the hive around mid May, it goes under the queen excluder across the top of the frames with a gap all the way around to allow the bees to move freely between the brood and honey stores in the super.


Wow, such a quick response. Thank you for your advice!