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Some questions for an aspiring bee keeper

Hey guys, was working at a house with a new hive recently and got me interested in owning one of my own. I started some research and have a few questions if anyone’s willing to answer.

First up I was wondering if there where any others who have hives in the Brisbane area that could comment on how they cope with our temperatures, being that I have little more than 2-3 frosts a year will I need to do much in winter to stop them from freezing/starving, or do they generally handle it this far north?

Secondly Iv been reading hives need good morning (southern) sunlight, how necessary is this as I have many gum trees to my south so see no sun til mid morning, is this an issue?

Thanks in advance for any answers, I look forward to giving bees a try but want to make sure i have the right conditions where I live, cheers

First of all, welcome to the Flow forum.

Lots of people. Australia has a great climate for beekeeping in the coastal areas. People on this forum even keep bees in Tasmania, so your kind of cold is nothing. :blush:

If you are in Brisbane, Australia, morning sun will come from the East and North-east. :smile: Most of the books are written by northern hemisphere beekeepers, so keep that in mind for upside-down land. :wink: The idea of morning sun is just to help the bees get an early start. Depending on how hot your summers are, you may even want to give them some afternoon shade.

You have a perfect climate for bees. Hope you give them a try. You have made a good start with doing some research. I strongly suggest you buy some books (like beekeeping for dummies) and join a local bee club - there should be several in the Brisbane area. If you do that, you will find things go more smoothly, and your local bee club may even help you get some bees, as it is now a little late in the season for buying them (most people get on a waiting list in the autumn and winter).


@Dawn has given you good information. I’m up on the Sunshine Coast where there is no need for setting up for Winter conditions. Bees are kept in very cold climates where their Summer is comparable to our winter, so you have no worries about the climate.
The hives should collect enough pollen and nectar that they should not need any feeding unless you over extract the honey.
Your Gum trees won’t be an issue and could be a bonus for a little summer shade on the hive.
Welcome to the forum, there is lots of information on the site and many people who will give good advice.

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Oh haha I didn’t even think about it but it is indeed my north that is covered in trees that hides the morning sun. Thanks heaps for the answers, I hope you don’t mind if I added one final question, is it possible to just have one producing hive instead of multiple? I understand the whole swarming aspect but if I where to split a soon to be swarming hive is it hard to find people willing to take the new hive of your hands? I love the idea of a flow hive and do intent on trying one but the price makes it hard to think of owning multiple hives.

Thanks again for the answers, cheers

Absolutely, but… First it is much easier if you have at least two hives. If one gets weak, the other hive can donate food, brood and/or bees to help. Second, in your climate, they will thrive and you will need to split. That means you will need extra equipment, because it is better to be ready for it, than to panic when it becomes really urgent.

Not at all. Especially if you belong to a bee club. In fact many beekeepers make more money from selling bees (nuclei) than they do from honey. Good way to go if you don’t want to expand.

I would suggest having one Flow hive and one traditional Langstroth hive. The frames of comb are directly interchangeable between the two hive types, as a Flow hive is really a form of Langstroth. If you get a traditional Langstroth, it will be between 1/4 and 1/3 of the cost of a Flow hive, and if you are good with wood-working, you can find plans online and make hive parts for a few dollars. It doesn’t have to be expensive. By the way, I always try to have about 50% more equipment than I think I need. That way I am prepared when the bees throw me a curve-ball. Which they do. Often. :blush:

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Once again thanks for the answers, you mentioned it might be a bit late in the season so I’ll ring around today to see if there’s any bees available, cheers

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Again Dawn has said it as I would say. @JeffH at Buderim, near Mooloolaba, up here on the mid-Sunshine Coast can supply you with bees, a real bee keeper gentleman. I am in very much in favor or having two hives, the extra time to manage a second hive is negligible. I sell new season hives with new queen, everything is new and there is no problem in selling all I can make from my 12 hives.

Hi Sean & thanks @Peter48, Sean, p.m. me if you think I can be of any assistance. cheers

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Hi Sean we are in Brisbane Southside, no problems with our temperatures. The bees don’t slow down much through winter, particularly if you have lots of lavendar,basil,clover, blue salvias etc. Start with one flowhive and just keep an extra brood box , lid and frames for a split as needed and then sell it soon after. You can also buy cheap supplies from the Sumner Park supplier.
Our bees are located right under our large brushbox trees facing north.
Good luck

Thanks for all the advice and replies, iv read a bit that even though you don’t need 2 brood boxes, it makes it slightly less common for your bees to swarm so I might give that a try. I’m also in Southside but a little further out where it’s much dryer so I think my bees will be more restricted to natives. I think I will do as you suggest and start with the one and keep a brood box for spare. Thanks again, cheers

I was semi commercial as a bee keeper either side of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, being a much colder climate than on coastal Queensland. Down south I ran double brood but up here there is no benefit as a single full depth brood box has more than enough cells on the frames to keep the queen busy.
I suggest you check with local bee keepers or a local bee group as to how they configure their hives