How much honey to leave for winter? Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Hi all,
I have my hive located in the Danenongs here in Victoria, Aust… I started to do an inspection on the weekend and found the Flow frames almost full of capped honey. A great change from my last inspection a month ago.
We harvested our first honey, three jars each about a kilo, very excited.
My question is, how many frames should I leave for over winter? I was thinking about three frames. Do people think this will be enough?


Someone with knowledge of the climate in that region needs to comment.


Ed’s point (@Anon) is a good one, climate matters a lot. I just looked yours up, and it looks like your winters are about 8-10C cooler than ours here in southern California. The second factor is the type of bees you have. Most people in Australia have Italians, and they eat a lot of food over winter. If you have Carniolans (much less common), they are more frugal.

I would guess that your bees will need 40-60lb (18 to 30kg) of honey to make it through winter. Some of that can be in the brood box. A lot of Australian beekeepers on this forum seem to fill an Ideal or WSP sized super with honey for their bees to keep over winter. This would be 10 to 15kg as a rough guess. If it was my hive, that is what I would do, then monitor the stores and hive weight to see when they are running low and feed as @Cowgirl describes when needed.

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How much honey will the bees need on this hive do you think? The image shows 2 ideals.

New queen early January. Hive recovering strongly now and desperately gathering what they can. I’m in Tasmania. Winters here about 2.5 degrees c min and 12.5 daily max.

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We had different species of eucalypts blooming through winter last year. Pink Gum, Blue Gum and Spotted Gum. The climate in the hills of SA is probably milder than yours though.

I had a 5 frame nuc survive over winter with only one frame of honey in it since the bees could forage for themselves. No supplemental feeding.


Hi Albear, I’m down in Croydon and am an absolute beginner too. I have no answer to your question but I have a couple of suggestions.

I’m going to check with my NUC supplier to bee sure to bee sure - that’s one way.

The other is to go to the Yarra Valley Beekeepers Group. Here are their next two meetings. I was thinking about going to the Tuesday one.

March 26th – Ecotopia Festival
Held at Yarra Junction Parklands, Maroondah Highway, Yarra Junction.

This Annual Festival is a lot of fun! YVBG will have a stall operating all day. Come along, talk to our beekeepers, and enjoy the other attractions. Honey sales? Hopefully – if our bees manage to produce any this season…

March 28th (N.B. A TUESDAY EVENING meeting)- since Sunday was at Ecotopia
Some of our beekeepers will share their journey, experiences, & pros & cons with different types of hives – Langstroth, Warre, Flow Hive, Topbar, etc. This EVENING meeting should provoke a lot of discussion on what hive is best… (you know the yarn about 5 beekeepers having six different opinions…!)

If they’re good people I’ll join. Here’s the website :slight_smile:


Hi Albearhoney,
What would be roughly your nearest regional centre? I could compare your climate to here by looking at the Bureau of Meteorology climate stats for a place near you. Australia is interesting because of the flowering plants through winter and relatively mild max. temps.

Hi Dan2, my largest regional center is Melbourne.

Hi Albearhoney,
The Melbourne area is warmer than here over winter -particularly at night. The Dandenongs should be good for bees I would have thought, but have only been once or twice. You should probably be ok to if you leave 3 full frames, perhaps 4 …but perhaps check how much if any is in the brood box if you haven’t already. One mistake easily made (I put my hand up) is to assume that there are some stores of honey in that area. As a previous poster said, you really need someone more local to advise better, I hope they do …for instance how much longer the nectar will continue to come in over the next month or so and when it might come back again following winter. Dawn has some sage advice above failing a local giving advice on this forum. Next season you will be better at estimating requirements but I guess the important thing is to keep the hive alive into that second season and beyond.

Last year we removed the flow super from my mothers hive- leaving only the 8 frame flow box - which had maybe the equivalent of three fully capped frames of honey in it. At the end of winter when we inspected we found the two outer frames were still fully capped and didn’t look like they had been touched at all over winter. Mums bees were seen to be foraging on many days right through winter…

@Dan2 your best advice might be to go back to a brood box only unless your colony is strong. In my first year I got my Nuc in early Feb and spent winter just with a brood box (langstroth deep) building up the colony, and I’m in Perth where it is much warmer than you.

I didn’t have to feed over winter. The bees were busy foraging when it didn’t rain.

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Thanks Alan,
The hive in my photo is about 35kg all up (weighed yesterday) with just two ideals so I now reckon that should be ok. I have another hive where there is brood in a deep brood box but almost no honey stored there and not too many bees. They have most of the honey in the top ideal- and brood and honey in the ideal above the deep brood. I have been out this morning trying to get that top box off and condense them down into one deep brood and one ideal for winter. It is not a bad colony but there is too much room there at present for the number of bees. We get bitterly cold and strong winter winds here is Tassie in the roaring 40’s. It snows a bit most years but very rarely settles. Up to 50 frosts a year. Without describing what I have done already today, are there any ideas on how to get the honey in the top ideal back to them so they can store it lower?

Here is a quick sketch to show my question -hope this helps.


Hi Dan, so you want the bees to take honey from the ideal frames in the supers and deposit this down in the deep brood box? Is this what you are asking?

@Dan2 are you wanting to put ideal frames in a deep brood box? I think you’d be better off leaving an ideal on top and then moving ideal frames in as others are depleted if that’s what you are asking.

Simple answer. You remove the queen excluder, and let the bees do it if they want to. :wink:

I’m sorry everyone for being confusing -appreciate the replies. Roderick - yes essentially I am - some into the brood box and some into the super above the brood box which I will leave on. I’m trying to condense the hive down for winter. It only weighs about 36kg all up at the moment.
Alan…no, I’m trying to get the honey into the boxes that will stay on over winter (the brood box and the ideal super above it). I doubt that they will really empty the frames in the top super much- certainly not before the cold weather sets in and in the meantime they have too much space in the hive. Chalkbrood and wax moth are potential issues…
Dawn, I’m not using an excluder (I took it off a month or so back when I removed the flow super). The bees seem intent on going up and not fully utilising the cavernous expanses of the brood box.

Ah, OK, well “herding cats” comes to mind. :smile:

You can have all the plans you want, but if the bees have other plans, you have to live with it. If your brood box ever empties completely, just remove it. Otherwise, I would leave it in place and let them overwinter with it there. @Anon overwinters his hives in 3 deep 8-frame brood boxes, and I don’t think he takes them apart or tries to move bees around once the season is over.

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“Herding Cats” makes me laugh and essentially this is true. But one option is to extract the frames in the top super then remove the super altogether and then using an internal feeder give the honey back to the bees, not all at once. Its a bit of mucking around but they may just take it down to the brood box… or they build comb on the roof and put it there… anyhow worth considering.


Being as inexperienced as I am this might be totally worthless but I would be tempted to make sure the queen is in the deep brood box and put an excluder back on above it. Force her to lay in the deep and the bees may start storing where the brood is or at least closer to it.
You could remove the ideal brood frames once the brood has emerged and replace them with capped frames from the ideal super if they haven’t already started back filling the ideal brood comb.
If you have a month before you pack them down it should be enough time, just remember to remove the excluder when you do.