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How cold is cold for bees please? Blue mountains, NSW, Australia


#1

I’m wondering exactly what kind of temps are considered cold for bees?
And for those in Australia - how many brood boxes do you provide your bees and what area are you in?
I’m in the upper Blue Mountains - we have a fairly short summer - can have mild Autumn and Spring too - but winter is generally pretty darn cold - nights can be around 0 with days highs of 5. So am thinking that two brood boxes may be beneficial - but not sure what temps are actually considered cold for a bee in the first place. Eg I know Canada is much much colder - how do people in these areas manage their hives?

Still researching/planning a setup for success! No actual hive as yet.

Cheers!


#2

Hi Emma,
I am in Sydney were honey is collected all year round and I only ever use 1 brood box on 10 frame hives. In the Blue Mountains the bees will be fine, however if using 8-frame hives then definitely 2 brood boxes is the way to go. You might like to also consider a different type of bee too, it is not really considered that much here in Australia as the italian bee is dominant, I run mostly caucasion bees and found them to give me a good honey crop right after winter as they do not eat through their stores like the italians do and have a longer tongue for getting deeper into the flowers. On average I get a larger honey crop from my caucasion bees throughout the year, and I keep this fact to myself amongst my local beekeepers and club members. They can have their little pretty yellow bees, I’ll stick to my grey average looking bees and sticky propolis. :anguished:
There are a few blue mountains beekeepers on the forum who can let you know how their bees are performing, there is a good thread at this location:


#3

I agree with Rod. I am at Woodford so not as cold as you and run two deep 8 frame boxes for the girls. Anything above that is whipped off in autumn. I run mainly mountain mutts. I originally had a dark queen that was brilliant and think I am using her great grand daughters now. I also have one Italian queen but will not breed from her as they chew their way through lots of stores. Great while the going is good but cold or wet weather and they just suck up their resources.

Cheers
Rob.


#4

Hi Emma - two brood boxes are recommended in my climate here in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US region. However, it’s important to remember that that only applies to a large colony that can physically occupy this much room. Sometimes it’s necessary to condense down to help the bees keep their area warm enough, depending on your colony size.

My colony is good-sized but not quite large enough for two deeps, so they are in a deep and a medium (8 frame). This weekend I’ll put a moisture quilt on top, that has a small space for either a baggies feeder or slab of fondant between it and the inner cover. Once the days become colder here I’ll add rigid foam insulation on all four sides, leaving the entrance clear.


#5

Im further south and the past winter was my first with bees.
I went into winter with a double 8 frame deep, 8 frame deep with ideal, 2 double 5 frame deep nucs and a single 5 frame nuc. Lost one of the double nucs, my own fault as I did a late combine and had to many bees in it going into winter.
I ended up emergency feeding dry sugar late winter and when I could finally get into them in Sept only the double deep and the single 5 frame nuc had a very small amount of capped honey left.
Probably a bit colder where I am, June/July/Aug all average in the minus for min temp and we had snow mid Sept. Mine really chewed through their stores I think mainly because given my temps they are constantly breaking cluster and there is virtually nothing for them to forage for 3 months of the year.
Gardens in urban or semi urban areas seem to have something blooming most of the year to supplement their stores.

One winter in I would say it isn’t about the number or size of boxes but more about balancing the size and stores to the number of bees.


#6

Apart from size of colony balanced with the amount of stores, one should also consider added insulation for the hive/s in cold climates. The better the insulation, the less honey will be consumed in order to maintain the optimum hive temperature.