How many honey frames does a colony need to survive winter?

Hi everybody,
I am new in beekeeping. Bought my first two colonies in November 2023. So far everything is fine. I have two 8 frame brood boxes for each colony.
Considering my location, how much honey do you reckon they need to survive our winter?
Thank you

Hopefully someone closer to you in Melbourne will chime in. The rule of thumb here in SW WA is a frame of brood needs a frame of honey for winter. So with one brood box, I will leave a mostly full honey super.

Looking forward to hearing the rule of thumb near you.

Bees generally eat about 5-7lb of honey per week. A Langstroth deep frame holds about 7lb of honey. So depending on how long your nectar dearth is over winter, you can work out how much honey they will need. If they don’t have enough, you can always feed them, like the commercial guys do, to maximize the honey they can sell. You just have to check on their food supplies periodically, which most people do by hefting the hive to assess how heavy it is.

If your second brood box on each hive is pretty full, for most climates they should have enough food for the winter.
:wink:

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It all depends. Climate, bees, etc. not sure that the relationship between honey needs and weather is totally linear either.

Here the nectar dearth lasts from October until March, sometime even later. I think because the bees are thrifty, it is consistently cold, and there is reliably nothing for them to forage, their expenditures may be less than trying to fly far for poor forage. As a result, I can overwinter with a single 10 frame box - albeit one that is completely topped off in the fall.

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I agree with @chau06 “It all depends, climate, bees etc” There are a lot of variables to consider. One being how much forage is available for your bees during winter. How well insulated your hive is, is another one.

I also agree that you can over-winter in a single brood box, provided it is well insulated. It’s worth remembering that bees constrict their brood towards winter. In doing so, they replace the brood with honey. As a consequence, more that half of the brood box will contain honey. Therefore there should be enough honey in a single brood box to keep the colony going over winter. Of course that is provided the bees had the opportunity to replace the brood with honey.

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