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Hello from the Hunter Valley

Hello everyone! I am just about to start my bee keeping journey and I am really excited.
I am on 700 acres of beef country in the Hunter Valley, and am getting my first nuke in 3 days! I have been advised by a fellow bee keeper that seeing as though I don’t get a frost here, and that winters are mild that I can set up now and be ready to set up my super (Classic Araucaria 6 Frame) in the spring. I just have 2 questions.

  1. WIND! I live in an extremely high wind area, on top of a mountain and gusts can get as high at 70km/hour mainly coming from the west and mainly in August. Is there anything I can do to help the bees with this and will this effect them?

  2. Will I need to feed them through the winter seeing as they are so new and probably not very strong?

Any others tips would be GREATLY appreciated as I am a bit nervous!

Laura

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The notorious August Westerlies can be cold to as well as strong, when they blow out you will have Spring. Depends where you are in the Hunter but if your in a Patterson’s Curse area the hive will explode in bee numbers. Put am em-lock strap over the hive so the roof is secure. Think about a few star pickets around the hive if it is in the same paddock as the cattle, maybe string some wire.
There is no harm feeding then 1:1 sugar/water as that will boost them in wax production and getting the queen laying eggs, You can’t over feed them, if there is nectar about the bees will leave the syrup.
Don’t forget to breath, move slow and smooth, relax and you will be fine,
Cheers

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@peter48 thanks so much for the reply.
The August winds are INSANE. Our house rattles for the whole month :tired_face:
We aren’t in a Patterson’s Curse area, but we have about 50 acres of extremely dense vegetation (trees and flowering weeds) and a fair bit of water at the moment. Fingers cross it’s a recipe for success! Thanks for the tips on the star pockets and strap - have those ready to go, we are also about to start fencing it to stop the cattle rubbing up against it!

:slight_smile:

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Hi @Peter48 I just did my first check yesterday on a beautiful sunny 20 degree day (no winds, very warm!)
What an amazing experience!! I only had a small window of time to have a good look - as I had my two small children with me. However I was a bit nervous to find no eggs or larvae, and I did not locate the queen. Is this worrying or quite normal for winter for a queen not to be laying? Lots of honey, nearly 5 frames worth.
We have had lovely warm winter days, and I can see lots of bees coming and going (we have a lot of white mahogany, iron and stringy bark, spotted gum and fireweed) with little legs full of pollen.
Thanks
Laura

Hi Laura,

What size nuc did you start with and is it still in the nuc box? Or did you install them in an 8-frame box when you received them?

Hi Stevo!
I transferred 4 full frames into an 8 frame box in the 3rd week of May :honeybee:

Did you see any brood, capped or uncapped during the transfer?

It would be odd for them to have none at all, mine generally keep laying over winter and I’m in Sydney.

Any photos? I’m wondering if the honey you were seeing could have actually been brood.

Hi Laura, you pushing the envelope having brood frames out of the hive for an inspection, I don’t even lift a roof off when it is under 22C because of the risk of chilling the brood.
That said and finding no eggs or larvae is a worry as the queen will still be laying but at a reduced rate. I’m worried that the queen may be dead. If your sure there is no larvae or eggs, eggs can be hard to see even for an experienced bee keeper, did you see any capped brood?
Your local bee group would be worth seeking out to get someone from there to do a visit and confirm what the situation is and possibly sell you a frame of eggs if the hive is queen-less and if not to mark the queen for you so she is easier to see in the future. I very much doubt you will find a queen for sale at this time of year but there will still be some drones about for her to mate with. A queen can be hard to spot if she is shy and not wanting to be found. The sooner you get the issue sorted out the better.
Sounds like you are in a great area for nectar and pollen so there is no concerns there.
Please let me know what is found, I’m heading down thru the Hunter when the borders open on my way to the Southern Highlands with visits along the way but your present problem can’t wait till then.
Cheers

I regularly inspect my hives from about 16-17C provided it’s sunny and not too breezy, Flow themselves advise anything above 15C but that’s bit cool even for me.

As long as you aren’t taking 5 minutes to examine each frame or take photos for Instagram, then you shouldn’t kill any brood. I probably take 60-90 seconds to check each frame and try to keep my inspections to 10-15 mins max, and that’s on 10 frame deep equipment.

I’ve never seen my bees dragging out masses of brood after inspecting or taking the lid off at any time of year.

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I am more cautious than you are Steve, I regard 15C as just plain dangerous for the brood considering normal brood temp is 34C. Heat loss begins when you remove the roof and could remain lower than ideal for a few hours after the roof goes back on.
Cheers

Temperature is just one variable. Wind is another and so is rain, time of day and duration of inspection.

According to BBKA magazine, Australian Beekeeping guide, Agriculture Victoria, Honeybee Suite and pretty much all literature I came across, minimum recommended temp for hive inspection is 15-16 degrees Celsius.

I personally would avoid opening up a hive in winter unless I really have to. For example I rather feed my bees if they need it on a 15 degree day then let them starve to death in a warm hive.

I tried inspecting a hive when I was still very inexperienced with just a veil, gloves and t-shirt during the onset of a summer electrical storm, was fun taking seven stings in about 5 seconds up one arm whilst also trying to maneuver a 30 kilo honey super back into position lol.

You just have to use common sense and if your doing anything when the weathers on the cool side make it quick.

I had a similar episode a few months ago when I went to my apiary to mow, I had my full suit on but in the past it was never needed, and when I got within about 10 meters I got a mass attack from every hive, Within a couple of minutes there was so many bees on my veil it was hard to see where I had cut so called it a day. That was about 10am and the normal sort of day I thought with some heavy clouds in the distance, no thunder at that point but a couple of hours later a massive thunderstorm hit.
Next day I wanted to check the hives after the storm and it was a normal sort of day here, nervously I got the mower fired up because it was shin high. The bees totally ignored me. Just proves the bees can know if a storm is in the area
Cheers

There is a difference in time in feeding a hive and doing a full inspection. I can add an empty box under the roof and add 3 liters of syrup and have the roof back on in about 10 seconds. A full inspection is about 10 minutes for me.
I did an experiment many years ago with a full inspection as to how long it took for the brood area to get back to normal temperature from a day that would have had to have been over 24C and after 24 hours when I removed the thermometer to read it it was only up to 30C. Each to their own on what they regard as a doable inspection temperature but I certainly wouldn’t do a full inspection at 15C, and I wouldn’t even lift the roof in the rain either.
Cheers