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Pre-emptive swarm control split


I’m in Brisbane and the weather is very warm. Looking inside the brood box I have seen what looks like backfilling and have decided to split the hive with the old queen moving to the new box. When the split is done both the old hive and new will have roughly the same stores etc but the old had the flow frames on all over ‘winter’ and four frames have been harvested recently. The bees have refilled with quite a bit of nectar so far. My question is should the flow frames come off now that the colony will be shrunk down to only four frames again. I also have frames of foundation and a couple with starter strips - is there a particular order they should go in? Thanks for your advice.


Brisbane is in sub tropical South East Queensland - about three hours north of Byron Bay where the flow hives originated.


Hi Cathie, it is still fairly early to be performing hive splits, not a lot of drones around till Sept. I could be wrong, each region is different. My suggestion for swarm management at this time of the year is to move the outside honey frames up into a super replacing with foundation frames, but if your nights a still cool make sure the honey frames are not from the external edges of the hive.


Rod, I hadn’t considered the drone issue as I had recently become aware of what seemed to me a lot of drones noisily making their warm afternoon trips into and out of the hive. But with only one hive and less than a year of beekeeping experience, it’s hard to know what constitutes enough drones. Maybe I’m jumping the gun. We are in an urban area and I don’t want any neighbour issues if they swarm.

Re moving frames of honey… Pardon my ignorance but why would it be a problem to move an outside frame if nights are cool? Does it provide insulation?


It certainly does, keeps the brood away from the cool sides of the hive provides the insulation to maintain the 34C microclimate needed for brood… as the nights begin to warm during spring, these honey frames can be moved up, the pollen/honey are then moved to the outside and the new frames (with or without foundation) are placed 1 or 2 frames into the brood chamber.


I have noticed the forecast for Brisbane for the next week is sunny and close to 30 degree c maximums.


Hi Dan, we’re heading for a heat wave. However the Ekka is approaching. There is always cold westerlies around during Ekka time. Anyway @Rodderick, I’m getting queens successfully mated only an hour further north.


With the Ekka starting tomorrow, it looks like this year will be an exception in relation to the cold westerlies.


Yep, you can always tell it’s Ekka time- the cold winds shred my garden and make me not want to go outside. Hopefully we will escape this year! Glad to hear that you are not having trouble with your queens mating, Jeff. I thought I’d seen quite a few drones around. Have you been making splits already?


Hi Cathie, I have done a few splits. Only from a few hives that were quite strong. It looks like I’m going to have to get into the bees in the coming days with this warm weather approaching. It’s amazing how quickly they build up once the weather warms up.


Hi @cathiemac,
If Jeff has started then I reckon you re good to go…


We have a cold westerly at the moment here in Tas. Some parts of the State are recording over 100kmh winds and an apparent temperature of - 17c. Forecast is to get windier and colder too so I’d imagine the only bees venturing out will be if the hives blow over.:smiley:


Wow, that’s cold, I guess your fire will be going tonight.


So glad I live up here north of you @Dan2, some crazy weather patterns over your region this last week.


It’s funny. If you ask Queenslanders why they move to Tassie, they say because of the climate - Qld is too hot/humid.

If you ask Tasmanians why they are moving to Qld, the answer is still because of the climate - ie. too cold in Tassie.

Perhaps Sydney has it just right? Perhaps that is why so many people want to live there.:grinning:


Hi Dan I also live in Brisbane I am at waterford and I purchased my flow hive some time ago . Back in April I harvested 2frames from my flow hive and then just 2 weeks ago harvested another 2 I noticed last night that my hive seemed to be nearly empty of bees but my other standard hive seems to have more bees than usual, being that it was such an unusually hot night I would have expected to see bees on the outside of both hives but there was none on the outside of the flow hive and when I inspected there was also none inside the clear window do you think it possible they may have swarmed


Yes @matt1 . That is one thing with the Flow hive and the observation windows. You can normally tell if they have swarmed if you see far fewer bees inside the hive - all things being equal (temp., time of day etc). If you are someone who makes regular visual inspections through those windows, you will be a good judge of bee numbers and whether or not they have swarmed. I would say they have based on your observations. If you are away at work during the day and no-one else is at home it can happen without anyone noticing. Any swarm may still be close by if they swarmed very recently, so check urgently and carefully in any bushes and trees on your property for a large and often silent mass of clumped bees- if you haven’t already done so. I am in Tasmania and couldn’t imagine any bees swarming here yet, but Brisbane’s winters are warmer than our summers.


Hi Matt. My neighbour had the same happening after harvesting the flow frames, hardly any bees in the flow box. So we checked the brood - and found AFB. :cry:
I believe Brisbane has a lot of it and it’s advisable to check the brood often. Check out the Facebook AFB Aware Greater Brisbane. Heaps of good info.


Hi Jeff really enjoy reading your replies.We are in Brisbane and our single 8 frame brood box and flow hive are going great. We want to add another brood box now to prevent a swarm. When we add the new box on top of the existing brood box is it wise to move some frames from the lower box or just populate with 8 new frames? We don’t have any drawn comb frames only new frames with foundation.
We ultimately want to perform a split but want the hive as strong as possible. If we spot any swarm cells this weekend is there anything else we should do or will the extra brood box be sufficient? Temperatures are 30deg and bees are have so much food that we have been taking off honey all year round. Happy for anyone else to respond.


Jeff sure has great experience and usually is able to give great advice. I
I just added a second brood box under the flow box of my Italians. Shifted 3 frames up into the new brood box. Didn’t checkerboard anticipating a cold snap of 25C. My frames are foundationless. Got the bees really busy all of a sudden. Feels good to me. I know they have more important matters to attend to than swarming right now.
I think the bees found abundant nectar somewhere as well. Noticed all my hives are concentrating on nectar big time.
Bit hard to know what they find in the National Park.