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Nearly Spring advice, Perth NOR (1st Year)

Hi,

Apologies in advance for the message length.

I had a small swarm arrive last spring which was moved to a nuc box and eventually into an 8 frame brood box which was slow growing. With the time remaining before winter came I placed a WSP above with a queen excluder inbetween. By the start of winter and my last inspection, both boxes were full. Brood box had honey on the outer frames and gradually moving in the frames to see plenty of brood. The WSP was around 60% drawn and capped, and the remaining frames were mostly drawn.

The hive looks reasonably busy but because I haven’t inspected over winter (and its my first full year) I’m wondering on the condition of the hive and if there’s the potential for the hive to be honey bound with the numbers I’ve seen outside collecting as winter seems pretty mild this year. I have a flow hive super ready to go. My thinking was to leave what honey is in the WSP for the bees and any excess from the flow hive for myself.

I have a few questions I’m hoping someone could assist with.

  1. With at least a month left till spring starts, is it too early to inspect on a warm day?
  2. If its ok to inspect now and if the WSP is full, is it too early to add the flow super on top?
  3. Lastly, what recommendations would you have for the box order. Keep them as is? Brood, Excluder, WSP, Flow Super? (allowing to remove the flow in winter if needed). Or Brood, WSP, Excluder, Flow Super and give the queen a little more space if needed.

Any suggestions really appreciated.

Thanks!

A big welcome to the forum Harry where you will find lots of reading and help from members, there are many over you way that are regulars on the site. Local knowledge is a huge help, Your thread is not too long and is well thought out.
Some of the folks over you way are trying a full depth plus a WSP for the brood, and doing that would make a stronger hive in numbers so you should have a better honey harvest.
I’m assuming you haven’t fitted the Flow Super yet and that is good and your brood box sounds good. Sounds like there is good foraging for honey and you will need to make a few choices.
On a warm day of over 22c with little breeze you could do an inspection but plan out the inspection so your not wasting time with the hive open. It could be that if the hive is becoming honey bound so have the Flow Hive super prepped and ready. I’m in a warmer climate than you but my Flow Supers are on my hives all the time and honey drained even in my winter.
Bee keeping is dictated very much by your local climate and I’m sure the folks over your way will give you sound advice based on their experience.
Cheers

Hi Harry,

Agree with what Peter says above with the exception that you could have a look in the hive at lower temps than 22 if you are concerned. If a hive needs work I’ll open it up at 19 for a short period. Full sun and low wind help as well.

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Some good advice there. If you think there is value in having a peak to assess whether the hive is ready for the flow super I would. In doing that remember that the deep brood box and WSP need to be full (90%+) of bees and bee products to make it work. If that is the case I would prepare the flow frames and put the super on.

I would place the flow super above the queen excluder and the WSP (which would be full of honey) above the flow super. This will also encourage your bees to work through the flow super and frames.

When it is proper spring/summer you can then assess whether you want to run the hive as a single deep brood or as a deep + WSP brood. pros and cons to both approaches…

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Above advice is good. My rule for inspections is if I can walk around outside in a T shirt then its OK to go into the hive. As usual, plan your inspection and make it quick if its cool in your T shirt…

Cheers
Rob.

Harry is in his first year of bee keeping and probably looking at his first inspection so it maybe a bit optimistic to consider an inspection of the brood at as low as 19c, What I can do in a hive now in 10 minutes took a lot longer when I was nervous and inexperienced.
Your advice is probably ok if Harry was experienced, but then he wouldn’t be asking for advice. Just my thinking.

Thanks all for the quick replies really appreciated.

I’ve taken regular inspections leading up to winter but I’m still new to this :slight_smile: I’m cautious of making changes still in winter with temps still hitting overnight of 5-8 degrees, if both boxes are full, would adding the flow now make it too cold over the next 4-6 weeks?

I saw Adam’s suggestion if the boxes are full to place the flow below the wsp to entice the work into the flow hive, would that be a concern for temperatures? Thinking if they are full then placing on top for now may be the safer option and temperature would be affected a little less (bees mostly in bottom two boxes), but give space for now if required and set them up for when spring kicks in.

I like the idea of moving the wsp below the excluder sometime too. I only have one hive, but spare deep, base etc. so may look to replicate and get another wsp and frames, so in theory before moving the excluder above the wsp I could harvest some of the inner frames, or take out alternate frames and replace with new. It then gives me a duplicate hive I need to make changes or help one out.

I see the next few days have some temps peaking at 24 degrees by 2pm so will try and take a quick look then.

I’m thinking (if temperature is not a concern):

  1. Inspect, check for drawn frames, bee volumes etc.
  2. If lots of bees, frames full of honey, add flow super to top
  3. Later in year move queen excluder between wsp and flow (can then duplicate in a 2nd hive later). Possibly harvest some frames from wsp prior to move.

If there’s not many bees but lots of honey, I’m assuming possibly replace some full honey frames with empty frames to entice some building/laying.

Thanks again
Harry

Hi @WASeaBees,

As you are up in Yanchep, have a look around at what is flowering and then make the decision, I didn’t see a lot except some wattle when I drove up that way a couple of weeks ago. I would be inclined to leave it for at least another month unless there is a strong flow happening.

I leave my flow-frames on all year round and this year the girls have made a bit more honey than last year over the winter, I am down at the opposite corner of the Metro than you are.

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@WASeaBees hi harry. I recently posted for comments on brood and a half in my case full depth + ideal (instead of WSP). Here is the link Brood and a half

The other thing as well, you may get experienced beekeepers but have lots of hives tell you not to. I say depends on what you want try and go for it. In my case since I am limited to 2 hives, the diff sizes are not issue to cope with whereas those that have lots of hives, I can understand it is probably cheaper and easier to keep all the same sizes.

I have read extensively and made a plan for myself on how to do preemptive swarm prevention, splits, rear queens for my own use only and grow from one to 2 hives with brood and a half. Also seek help here and there are lots of helpful and knowledgeable beekeepers to fill in gaps in my understanding.

Wish you all the best on this new adventure :smile:

Hi Harry,
Good thoughts in your and other’s post. The decision is yours.
Often, when I’m getting into a hive, the final decision comes there and then, according to what I see.
I would just like to add, if there are lots of pollen coming in, I like to lift honey/pollen frames from the broodbox upstairs, to make room for eggs. It also keeps the bees busy in the broodbox, drawing comb and such. That way you prevent early swarming. The bees may use some of the honey from the WSP.
Since you have different sizes, you could just remove a couple of outside honey/pollen frames from the broodbox and freeze them for later use. Replace with empty frames, or foundation if you prefer.
In that case, you would just leave your current configuration and don’t add another super yet. Keep monitoring and add super once they have a lot more brood and bees and a reliable flow is on.

This all depends on if in fact you have broodless frames in your
Broodbox. If they are all full of brood, maybe it’s time to remove a bit of honey from the WSP. Your nights are still very cold, so I would wait with new supers, but if you insist, I would put the flow super on top, perhaps with a hivemat on the WSP.

Hiya Seabee, I’m quite a way from your area so can’t give specific advice. I too use a WSP above the full depth brood box. The advice I was given was to move the qx above the wsp in winter and below in spring allowing the brood nest access to stores during cooler periods.
I’m also inclined to agree with SES with the addition of the super, adding it too early will slow the colony down.
As for removing honey frames, I’d say go for it, from the WSP, as you mention it’s nearly spring and flowering flora is beginning. I remove honey frames from the fd but only when the colony is beginning to overflow. I add the supers around the same time.

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Agree 100% with the advice given, especially when @skeggley advises to only add a Flow Super(or any super for that matter) when it is really needed, too soon and it will certainly set the hive back for months. A few pics would help us to know more. Most agree to add a honey super the frames should average about 80% of the frames on average covered by bees and again 80% of all the cells with brood, pollen or honey.
Bees love, in human terms, very high density living, if they have too much space they won’t be happy.
Cheers

Hi,

Thanks all again for the info really appreciated. This afternoon was a warm day so I did manage an inspection and it’s put my mind at ease. No pictures unfortunately.

The brood box was very full of bees, the amount of honey stores looked to be less than at the start of winter, replaced by laying space, there are new eggs, larvae, capped brood and there looks to be space for the queen to lay. So I think looks good there.

The WSP has around 6 of the 8 frames with honey and nectar, 4 frames look capped, 2 new honey, 2 frames still not drawn.

So it looks like the numbers are ticking over and there’s space for laying but the WSP still has some space available. I think it looks ok for the upcoming weeks before spring starts, and can then take a decision on swapping some frames out, maybe rearrange wsp, adding the flow super etc. but seems ok for now.

Thanks again!
Harry

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That all sounds good and hey, that hive should really kick along hard soon for you. Nice to get appreciated for our tips and thoughts too. Work on how to get some pics uploaded as it gives us a better idea of how things are going.
You have some thinking to do as to where to fit the QX but I would chat to a few locals first and go with what they are doing and maybe try something a bit different once you have a second hive so that you can compare results between the two of them. Maybe try a brood and a half(full depth and a WSP), but remember, nature being what it is, one year may be different the next year, such is bee keeping.
Cheers

Hi,

It was a nice day today. Last weekend I decided to place the flow super in between the brood box and WSP. The weather last week was looking to start getting warm with one day even hitting 27C and lots of activity prior to then. There were plenty of bees in the brood box last week, new eggs and space for laying, the WSP was full too.

This week I wanted to see how things have progressed and managed to take some pictures to share.

Here’s the WSP with the 1st frame removed

This is the outer frame of the WSP with the comb drawn and honey been filled

This is the inside of that outside frame

Rest of the frames look full and capped


I think the timing was good I think as there wasn’t that much space in the WSP left.
I didn’t pull up the flow frames as it’s not been that long, but I was interested to see how they were doing, so checked the inspection windows

looking busy there too


So hopefully can let them get on with it knowing they have some space to play with.

Thanks again,
Harry

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FYI here’s what the flow frames look like 3 weeks later. I think one is pretty much ready to harvest now (#3), and most of it is capped. I’ll look to harvest the two centre frames next week.

Thanks again for the advice!

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Looking good, nice and light color. But there is no need to drain the frame while there is still uncapped cells in the other frames. Personally I remove the flow frames when I think they are capped so that I know for sure the honey is ripe and won’t ferment, I check the day before I plan to drain the honey.
Cheers

Thanks for the info Peter much appreciated.

I’ll make sure to take out the frames to inspect to ensure they are capped. I when I looked through the window it looked like the cells were capped and the odd cells capped but not 100% full. I will check more thoroughly to make sure.

I’m surprised how quickly it got to this stage. I checked two weeks ago and no honey showed at the front, but the gaps between cells had been filled.

No big rush to harvest but I am mindfull of them running out of space and then filling the brood box. I’m assuming this is something check for particularly if its starting to pick up in spring.

Thanks again.

the bees will store honey in the brood box before they store in the super so that there is honey close by to feed the brood. Last year I was extracting honey in a flow every 3 or 4 weeks in early Spring. I never drain all of the frames, I leave a couple if there is a dearth and they have some extra honey if they need it. If they don’t need it then nothing is lost.
Cheers

Thanks for the info still learning :slight_smile:

I’ve left the WSP I have on the top section of the hive which has 8 frames capped and wasn’t intending to extract it. I was thinking that could cover for dearth and winter with any additional additional filling the flow super, but will try to ensure they have enough so the flow hive is not in an empty state.

Thanks again, really appreciated

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