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Numbers don't add up

Hello all
I inspected my (only) hive today and this is where I stand.

The (8 frame) brood box has 6 frames that look more or less like this

Other frames had even more capped brood than this one and a bit less honey. The other two (outside) frames are full of capped honey from wall to wall.

I wasn’t able to find the queen, which wasn’t a concern given that all stages of brood were present. In my eyes, and considering that I got this colony in late February, they seem to be thriving. The flow hive on top is about 50% full, of which about 80% is capped.

I live in a place where frosts are common in winter and they can be harsh. I hear and read that a bee colony needs about a box full of honey to survive the winter. For me that is 8 frames of honey. If I take away the flow box and keep the brood box to one box, how does that work? Where am I suppose to put 8 frames of honey if that box is choked full of bees, brood and honey?
Is this colony too strong to keep in one box? Do I need to feed them once I take the flow box off? Would it be better to put the flow box under the brood box and leave the honey in there for them (and keep the Qx between boxes)?

The other observation is that I do not see a lot of pollen in store. I counted an average of 8 bees p/minute carrying pollen into the hive. With that amount of brood, are they using all the available pollen to feed that brood? Are they going to have shortage for the winter?

Ok, I’ll stop for now…

Humm, no. One more. After all this, am I being paranoid about nothing?

Questions, comments, complaints, constructive criticism, all welcome

Than you in advance

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Hi Marcus, I’ll leave the answer about the 8 extra honey frames/extra box to someone local to you, and here are my thoughts on the rest:

Pollen - most needed just prior to next brood cycle in late winter/early spring.

Brood rearing reduces in anticipation of cold season and brood areas will be backfilled with autumn forage and/or feed you provide if needed.

Choked full of bees - as the pace of brood rearing slows, the pace of workers dying off continues, so the population shrinks.

Never keep the Flow super and QX setup on where there’s a cold winter - if it’s cold enough for the colony to stay clustered, the queen would be left behind in the brood box when the rest move up to get to the honey in the Flow frames. She could freeze and/or starve. You can harvest the honey and feed some back to them using a top mounted feeder. In late fall I use a shim with a perforated plastic bag of crystallized honey, just under the outer cover, and then I rest assured that during bad weather days my bees can continue to load stores down where they need it.

In my neck of the woods I’ve found that overwintering with a brood and a half works well. This was the result of the excellent tip I got from @Dawn_SD awhile ago about using a medium (or shallow) super, placed on top of the Flow super when the nectar flow is strong helps the bees circulate air and be able to cap the Flow honey faster in the high humidity we have in late spring/early summer. A strong colony will fill the Flow and get a good start on the regular super, which I leave on and let them finish it off with fall forage after I’ve removed the Flow super for the season.


Thanks for your comments Eva.

I heard of a person inverting the hive in Melbourne, which is relatively close to me, so the cluster of bees (with brood and the queen) are in the top box but the queen doesn’t come down to lay eggs in the flow box (Qx). There is also a video where the keeper found crystallised honey in the flow box before winter, which he could not extract by making it flow. He put the flow box under the brood box, with a queen excluder in between, and (despite his rough handling of the hives) the workers took the honey up through the Qx to the brood box and the hive survived the winter well.

I would only leave the flow box and the Qx if I put the brood box on top, where the hive is likely to be warmer
Thanks again

Hi Marcus, I did some forum research. @Doug1 ,in Canada feeds his bees 17-26 lbs of honey during the winter, with his colonies indoors. Converted to kilos = 8-12 kilos, which = roughly 3-5 full frames of honey. I believe with a well insulated hive, coupled with the fact that the bees will still be able to forage during the winter, & based on the fact that the bees will constrict the brood, thus replacing it with honey, you’ll get away with over wintering your bees in a single brood box.

You already have two full frames of honey in the brood box, on top of whatever honey is above the brood. The frame you’re showing has a substantial amount of honey in it. I’m tipping there would be at least one more frame like the one you’re showing.

I think I remember reading that beekeepers in Victoria over winter in single brood boxes.

That’s my thoughts, cheers

Great News Jeff!
Thank you so very much for taking the time to do the research
I just hoping they can store a bit more pollen, otherwise I may have to supplement them later in the winter. Any preferences in regards to pollen supplementation?: what? when? I have never done it before:

Hi Marcus, I’m not really sure if you even have to feed the bees a pollen supplement. I don’t feed mine a supplement up on the Sunny Coast, however I see it’s available at local beekeeping suppliers.

I suspect that the best thing to do is to ask locals what they do. I located that book I was talking about. The title is “Beekeeping in Australia for pleasure & profit” by Fred Bailey. It appears that he’s speaking from a Melbourne perspective. He has a couple of chapters on feeding.
In relation to pollen substitutes, he suggests to contact the local Dept. of Agriculture, Apiary Branch, for advice as to the type of pollen suitable for your requirements and where you can get it.


I agree with @JeffH to seek local knowledge.
Whether you need to feed pollen back to the hive is so dependable on local conditions. Where we are located we have the opposite issue in that the bees bring in too much pollen all year round. So much so that we have to replace frames from the brood box so hives don’t become pollen bound.


I didn’t know that was possible but I doubt it will be the case here. I met a beekeeper today who brings the hives to a farm that is about 20 min from where I live looking for long leaf gum which is supposed to have a lot of pollen. I’ve seen a couple of trees that look like long leaf gum but I’m no specialist. They are starting to bloom now so I hope the pollen starts to flow in.
We are having an exceptionally warm weather week (top 20s C) for April and that may have changed the blooming pattern.
I’ll keep watching
Thank you for your input

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