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New bees brag and winter question


#1

Greetings from sunny Perth (Australia). After a very long wait we finally got our Nuc at the beginning of March. We have been doing checks every couple of weeks, but haven’t really seen too much! However, today we got out the camera and took photos as we went. From a 4 frame Nuc in an 8 frame box, they are working pretty well on 6 now, but not doing much with the outer two. One of the new frames has some (about 25%) capped honey, but the rest are mostly (at least 80-90%) capped worker brood (I think). I couldn’t see any pollen cells, but not too sure what they look like, plus there were so many bees at the top of the frames that we couldn’t see anything. However, the most exciting thing was that when we looked at the photos afterwards we could see lots of larvae, eggs and even the queen (spot her below)! So happy that they all look good, although there were two wax moths on the bottom board, but we couldn’t see any damage to the frames.

Anyway, after my happy dance, I just wanted to ask advice on if we should leave the hive alone now until spring. There are heaps of flowers around, but I’m guessing they won’t fill the outer frames by spring so we won’t need to add another box until then. Also, I’m guessing they are making their own winter stores, so shouldn’t need feeding (also most flowers in winter here so likely nectar supply should be good if they venture out). Should we just leave them in peace, or have another look in a couple of weeks if weather permits? All answers/comments appreciated. We are total newbies, but loving the learning experience :slight_smile:

Cheers,

Julia


#2

Julia, I’m from Stateside so really not much help to you except to say there is some limited pollen on that frame. If it’s your winter n I believe it is. Your nectar n pollen flow is now rather limited or none presently. If your region has very limited to no flow of nectar be careful that your bees have enough stores/food. Scanning I believe I did see several bees with full pollen sacs on their back legs so guessing something is still in bloom in your area… If the amount of flow is not big the bees will bee slow to build n draw out wax comb because they don’t have the natural resources or need to :honeybee:so busy right now.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.

Gerald in the States.


#3

I have marked what looks like a pollen cell (but it may actually be empty) with an arrow, and another arrow points at a bee carrying pollen. It won’t usually be this pretty, but this is what you are looking for with pollen cells - https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj02bGc1Z3MAhVG4iYKHYsHAcUQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myrmecos.net%2F2014%2F01%2F01%2F&psig=AFQjCNHOfjEq-b07REM2MhrHG13Rmd1QsA&ust=1461257150207388

Guess who is in the oval? :wink:

If you really need to see a frame, one of the easiest and gentlest ways is to shake the bees off into the hive. Hold the frame vertically at the ends of the top bar, and do a series of rapid shakes downwards. I don’t like to do that with a frame which has the queen on it, in case she gets damaged. In that case, I might try smoking the bees off the frame, but it isn’t as effective as a quick shake down.

I agree with Gerald, you need to watch the food stores. I don’t know what your nectar flow is like over winter, but it looks like Perth has a pretty mild climate, like San Diego. If your local beekeepers say there is plenty of nectar, fine. If not, you may want to consider feeding the bees, so that they get through the winter.


#4

Thanks for the replies - I can see the pollen cells and will look back through my other pics for more.

I did think that they have been slow to lay down wax, but the shop I bought them from didn’t seem to surprised. I did feed them to begin with (though possibly not enough - just 300ml in ziplock bags every week or so), but the trees in my area started flowering, so i was told to stop and leave them to it. Everything has only greened up and flowered in the last few weeks, so probably not too much time to build up stores. Our citrus trees are about to bloom now, so the nectar flow should be strong for a while yet. When I stand and watch the hive I see lots of bees returning with pollen :).

Perth is crazy mild, is still late 20s © in Autumn and pretty much always gets to double didgits during the day even in winter. I’m pretty sure the bees work all year round, but I’ll check with my mentor. I’m happy to feed them if needs be- I guess just need to keep an eye out for flowers. Maybe I’ll have another peek in a few weeks on a warm day to see how they are doing :).

Just another silly beginner question - is it the bees that have chewed off the bottom foundation of the frames? - hopefully not wax moth! Why do they do this?

Cheers heaps,

Julia


#5

Not a silly question at all. If you use foundation less frames, or set your foundation short of the bottom in the frame, the bottom edge is the last edge to be joined. The corners are usually the absolute last. Just the way of the bees! :blush:


#6

I’m in Perth too. Still plenty of flowers about and my bees have filled the flow hive from zero to nothing in the last month, so there’s plenty around… I reckon they’re bringing in heaps now compared to the summer, which was horribly dry. There’s not as much pollen coming in as in Spring but you’ll see bees bringing it in the front door if you watch for 10-20 seconds.

Whereabouts in Perth are you? I’m in Maylands.


#7

We’re in the hills (Brigadoon) with a lot of Bush around us. I also think that they will have more food during the winter compared to summer, so will definitely check them again in a few weeks on a ward day then to make sure they are not full. Are you planning on removing the super soon for winter and leaving them with one or 2 brood boxes? I’d be interested to know if they just keep on going here or if they hibernate like in europe.

Cheers,

Julia


#8

Beautiful! Lovely fat looking queen :wink:


#9

Nice bump Kirsten.
How’s it all going @Jingles?


#10

Hi guys. Thanks for asking :). The bees have been hiding when cold and out when warm. We did a check about a month ago and were a bit disappointed that they haven’t really expanded but are still essentially sitting on 4 full frames plus a bit on the inner side of Two more. We did see capped honey so they are not starving but seem to be pretty static in their numbers. I guess in retrospect this shouldn’t be surprising as its been a very wet and cold winter here. Hopefully once my fruit trees start blossoming in the next couple of weeks they’ll pick up and we can then decided whether to all a second brood box or simply go straight for the flow super. We have some neighbours who keep bees so probably a good time to get them over for a chat.

We have had a feral hive here for the past 7 years who have survived well, and when we had to fell a nearby tree recently we found (to the tree loppers dismay) a second hive in a hollow limb. Amazingly they have survived and are now living in a log on our property. Come spring, though I think we will have to try and capture them as the ants are relentless and I’m pretty sure will kill them all. Clearly our land can sustain a lot of bees, so hopefully this year we will get to taste some of our own honey :). Anyway, I think it’s time to buy another hive - will be interesting to do a pair-wise comparison between my bought bees and the feral ones…


#11

That’s what I’ll be doing. Feral into hive next 2 weeks & bought bees arrive next month.