Syrup or Honey after winter

Hi All

As we approached winter here late April my 2 hives had almost no honey, it’s been a terrible bee year here near Melbourne. So I was advised to feed them as they’d normally need about 6 frames of honey to survive the winter. So I fed them about 10 litres each of 1:1.

Now, 3 months later it’s still weeks from the end of winter but the hives are buzzing. I did an inspection today and found the hives were packed and had 5 or so full frames of capped resources in the single brood box. I’m really surprised. I added an extra brood box to allow them to build up the colony prior to adding the super later.

The question I have is with the full frames of capped honey in the lower boxes, how do I know it’s honey or syrup they’ve stored? Will they keep syrup in capped cells? I suspect it was a warm winter and they didn’t need the extra syrup.

I can see in some frames have uncapped honey btw. What I want to avoid is putting a honey super on top in spring and have them transfer the old syrup up. I’d just like to be sure I’m harvesting honey not syrup!

Personally, I wouldn’t worry about it. The bees have converted the syrup into honey, via their honey stomachs. It’s probably diluted with honey made from nectar. Ten liters of syrup isn’t much compared to the vast amount of nectar they gather, in order to convert to honey.

That’s a sticky one, Mike. :grin:
If they took the syrup, they needed it. Clearly a dearth at the time. Generally, 1:1 is a spring mix and can stimulate growth . For next time I suggest using 2:1 for winter preparation so they have less water to remove.
I think we’re in for a good season at last, but local conditions can vary. Spring arrived early in NSW, and I’d expect the same for VIC. Chime in any other southerners.
If there’s a good nectar flow, the bees will use that before stored syrup or honey. I’ve seen outer frames of capped honey in the brood box untouched all season, so your syrup could stay put. Bees do what bees do, though. They could also move it to the super to make room for brood. You don’t want the queen to be honey bound.
If there’s a flow on and they’re growing, I would take anything I suspect is syrup and store it in the fridge or freezer to be returned next winter. Replace with comb or foundation for the girls to work.
Once they’ve drawn those out and filled the brood chamber with bees, add your super and you’ll have pure honey.
A good configuration for Aussie Flow beeks is brood box, excluder and ideal box for the bees, then supers above. I only have 8F single brood boxes and four frames of honey gets them through our relatively mild winters. Even late season swarms I’ve fed up have made it through. They forage on sunny days over 12C.
Bit of a long reply and I’m sure others will offer more thoughts.

Also, for a fun experiment, add some food dye to the syrup next time. You’ll see where they store it.

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Thanks for the replies. I like the food dye experiment, I will do that if I have to feed again next year.
I’m thinking I’ll take a frame or two out of the brood boxes and store them as I am new to this and I don’t have any stored comb or honey frames.

If you do that, make sure that there is no brood in them (it won’t keep well!) and then freeze them for 24-48 hours to kill off any wax moth and SHB larvae and eggs. Either leave them in the freezer, if you have space, or store them upright in a hive box, closely wrapped with hessian/burlap to keep out critters. The breathable material helps to prevent mould from growing. :wink: