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Looks like an early spring


Just did a check on the backyard hives. The Italians have a surprisingly small brood nest with no drone brood. One mutt hive has a broodnest about the size of a football with some drone brood. The big hive has lots of brood, lots of drone brood and a bad temper. They all have room still but they all have capped honey left as well as lots of nectar and bee bread.

Time to do a split on my big hive I think…


P.S. Why is it that the most productive hives are often the meanest?


Do you think there are enough drones for good mating? You said only the big hive has drone brood. Or can you buy a queen in?
Will check my carniolan hives today or tomorrow, they are very active. My Italians didn’t have drone brood yet last week.


Reckon there will be plenty in a week or two. If my hives are like this then others around will be too. I may just move some brood from the big, mean hive into the others to boost them instead. That would let me breed off the nicer queens :nerd_face:



Thinking the same thing. Breed a queen from the gentle one and replace the mean one with the new one. Use the sealed brood from the cranky queen to boost the other hives.



Since this is my first spring with overwintered hives, I really have no idea what I should be doing. Split or put flow supers on, or even another foundationless brood box for an easy split later. I would move some brood frames up in that case.
We usually only have one broodbox here and I’m not sure how quickly the bees would fill out a second box.


Bit hard for me to advise you but if I lived there I would have a double brood box. Two reasons, first it gives you more time and space to handle swarms, the smaller their volume the more swarms without lots of fiddling. Second big hives can really pull in the nectar when a flow us on.

Its really a question only you and the locals can answer though.



Yes - check with other Flow owners as Rob says. You could put the Flow supers on now and see if you can get some honey out of them before you need to split. Here I’ll try the Flow super on one hive about mid August and then split in mid September, by which time - with any luck- I may be able to extract a few Flow frames. I’ll need to take it off after I split and perhaps add it back later.


When you find lots of drone brood in a hive and the colony is cranky does it mean they are preparing for something? I’ve read about queenless colonys having lots of drones and being mean. Obviously you would know if you’re ur colony is queenless Rob so I’m wondering what you think is their mindset.
And, what kind of temperatures are you doing inspections in over there? Over here in sunny WA we’re lucky to get a 20+ day at the moment!


Hi Rob, thanks for your thoughts. Well, the locals here I know prob just play it by ear as well as I do. Am not in contact with the Tyagarah jelly bush mob. Their methods would differ to mine at elevation anyway, and their goals are different to mine. Double brood box here? You know we are near Byron? I think it may be possible, and sure gives us a bit of swarm control time. Time to watch and learn. Worth taking a gamble by building up the brood of a colony to compare with the others through the season.
Thanks again for your ideas. I’m part of the natural beekeeping group here and get a lot of thoughts in from that way.
In the end I have to decide what I do with my colonies this spring.
I have 2 empty hives to fill and 2 others ready to start. So, increasing my hive numbers takes priority.
I just remember. A close by friend with a hive put a broodbox under in January. Last week check, no brood in bottom box, but plenty honey and bees too small (lack of pollen for too much brood initially?).
Ok cluster in top brood box. Normal activity in flow box. He had his coreflute in bottom slot and I think, for a second brood box it was bad timing in Jan. They filled the entire bottom box with honey! He had expected for the brood to move down there and then back up to fill both boxes. That didn’t work out. Yet.
Well, more ideas tomorrow, and more tossing of spring ideas.


They are not queenless, this mob have been mean from the start but very productive. As for inspection temperatures, if its calm and sunny and I can get around in a T-shirt its OK by me.



Hi @JeffH. Thanks for the advice! Great bee day today. Just tung oiling a few boxes and then into the bee suit. Can’t wait to see what I find in the carniolan brood boxes. In one box I still have a follower board, there’s room for 2 more frames.
I don’t have foundation here. Still trying to get away with all foundationless. It’s been great so far.


Hi Jeff. Are the SHB the only reason why you would recommend foundation?
I will get some foundation sheets and learn how to fit them. Mainly because I think as a beekeeper I should be able to.
Ok, off to the bees now. Have to do a proper brood check because of advanced AFB just 800m away. Fingers crossed all is good and healthy. Last check was 3 weeks ago. Quarantined our apiaries.


Hi Jeff. What would you do if you had AFB that close? The hive is killed now and all boxes sealed, ready for irradiation. And I found it when I helped the neighbour with finding out why he didn’t have many bees any more. A terrible find.


In NSW we have to kill the bees and have the boxes irradiated or burn them to prevent the spread of the spores. Antibiotics would mask AFB but never kill the spores. I guess once you start treating you would always have to treat.
In NZ they are now trying to eradicate AFB. Wish they would do that here too.
QLD has different laws, but here antibiotics (requiring a vet’s prescription) are only allowed for EFB. The colony would make a full recovery from EFB.
Hygienic bees would be able to detect and remove affected brood, but they can’t remove the AFB scales in the cells. So there would constantly be new outbreaks.
I want to apply for organic status eventually, which doesn’t allow treatment with antibiotics either, nor irradiation of equipment. AFB would pretty much destroy my intent then. Imagine burning a flow hive! :frowning_face:


So Jeff- Are you suggesting you use this to treat AFB or use this as a preventative treatment?


Hi Honeydale. I think Jeff means, if you just find a very few AFB ropy cells, you can treat it. Just not when it’s advanced like my neighbour’s. There was nothing left to save anyway.
So in my case, being close to AFB, I better treat before it takes hold.

Reason for edit: further thoughts:
But I will not treat. It would be opposing the reason why I keep bees. I don’t want antibiotics in my honey.
Also, I did a biosecurity course and know we can only eliminate AFB from our apiaries if we diligently remove any cause of infection by burning or irradiating.
Ultimately, Australia’s entire honey industry is at risk.


As long as nobody treats the wild hives, they will die out. Then they may get robbed by managed bees, who will get AFB. If the managed bees get eliminated and equipment treated, end of story.
If the managed bees get treated, AFB becomes rampant in the area. If AFB treated nucs are sold into other areas, the spread of AFB is assured.
Spring is the ideal time to spread the AFB love.


In regards to AFB, Ensure you are aware of local requirements. Checking with your beekeeping clubs is the best option, There is alot of online information out there so its best to cross reference, however there are often strict regulations. Follow the laws of your local area.

Here is a Flow doc on AFB


No sign of AFB here thank God.

So back to the main topic- early spring. here in adelaide it has been a very mild winter with the bees out and about almost every day bringing loads of nectar. I left my flow supers on this year on two hives- and was kind of hoping for some kind of winter nectar flow. That doesn’t seem to have happened- and whilst there are bees in the supers on the combs they haven’t added much if any honey upstairs.

My plan this spring is to increase my apiary by making pre-emptive swarm splits. I am wondering how early I might consider doing this? I guess to be effective they should happen before the bees have decided to swarm- my plan was to wait until early spring but perhaps I could start thinking of making some splits soon? My hives still have the odd drone in them- and never went without drones all winter.

Should I perhaps be thinking to make a split or two soon?

I am actually robbing honey today from my Nuc tower flow hive. The end cells showed some crystals in the honey- they are still draining well but the crystals are staying put mostly- be interesting to see how the bees go clearing that up:


Hi Jack - if your weather is like Adelaide’s (I think you are a Crow-eater) then it looks now like our October temperature wise anyhow - should be ok soon I would have thought.