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Partially full flow frames - winter in Tasmania - first heavy frost last night - what to do?

Last night we had our first heavy frost here in Tasmania, I have been monitoring my 3 flow hives over the past few weeks with a view to removing the flow super and frames for winter.
All hives have a brood box and two full ideals of honey which should get them through winter (I’ll monitor and feed them if I have to).
All the flow supers have some frames with some honey (capped mainly) and some uncapped - I’d say only about 5 - 10 % of capacity, I do want to remove, clean and store for winter as we have pretty cold winters here (maybe a dozen frosts and a couple of snowfalls - nothing compared to Northern Hem winters I know).
So my plan is later this week on a warmer day to drain any frames with honey (might have to bring them inside and do in a warm spot), return the stickies to the hive for a day or so for the bees to clean up then remove clean and store. I’d use the small amount of honey soon as it may ferment due to the portion of uncapped honey.

I guess I’m just seeking endorsement that this would be the best approach …

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Hello Simon. I can’t find fault with your thinking mate. Pack the hives down, reduce the entrance if you haven’t already. the bees will appreciate that to help then keep the brood warm. A tip, if you have a crown board fitted close the hole, if you haven’t got a crown board a piece of lino or thin ply sitting on the top of the top super frames with a 10mm gap all around will aid in retaining warmth as well.

Thanks to all advice Peter, all makes sense - it will be good to get some late season fresh honey too as all my stores have candied (still delicious though).
Have you drilled any ventilation holes in the roof - am thinking about one in each end about 5 ml just for ventilation as last winter the roof cavity got quite damp in my hives…

Had a good year here, third year and first harvest plus captured one of my own swarms and minimal stings !

Regards Simon

All of my hives have ventilation holes front and rear of the roof. Back up till to about the 1960’s all kitchen cupboards has a ventilation ‘plug’ in them and your local hardware will still have them. The common size is a 35mm or 28mm hole. The plug has a ‘gauze’ so bees can’t use it as an entrance. Try a 28mm size each end, it will help control condensation a lot more than internal hive temperature. I have up to 3 at each end of the roofs but my average is two each end.
I was told the bees will propolis the vents but after more than 10 years not one vent was been closed on any of my hives. That was told to me by a local bee keeper who is adverse to thinking about improving anything with his hives. His roofs often have water droplets in the roof. He has three Flow Hives but he won’t consider modifying them to better suit the climate here.
I’m very proactive in hive management, especially about preemptive swarm control and happy to give you advice about that.

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OK ventilation holes now fitted, ended up doing a 35 ml at each end and fitted pretty close knit heavy duty plastic mesh so will now get some airflow, all roofs were damp inside with some mould starting to form so will see how this goes, will narrow entrance as well in next few days.
Have also moved corflute to top slot to minimise drafts.
Flow frames draining overnight ready to be cleaned up by the girls tomorow then will rinse with hot water, thoroughly dry then store in my rodent proof shed, if I see any ants around will wrap each super in a garbage bag.

Am very interested to hear about your hive management strategies as well.

Simon Levett

Phone 61 3 6224 7444
Mobile:61 409671815 Fax:61 3 62236115
Email Simon@travelstudio.com.au

Level 2 / 29 Salamanca Square, Hobart, Tasmania

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My cor-flutes are permanently in the top slot and very early with the Flow Hives found more benefits in reducing the entrance than a full width.
Another busy day at my hives so I’ll be in touch tonight Simon.