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Take the honey or leave it? Sydney, NSW, Australia


My 2 Flow hives have taken the entire season to fill. One is ready to harvest, the other is only 2/3 full and only about 50% capped.
Shall I take the honey and remove the flow hive box for winter - or shall I leave the honey in the hive for winter ?
Each hive consists of 2 brood boxes, the flow hive and and Ideal on top. Brood boxes are pretty full. The Ideal on both hives was only added a month ago, so there is not much honey store there as yet. But I’m under the impression bees can find food all year round in the Sydney area, right?
Both are pretty strong colonies.
I’l appreciate some helpful advice.
Fred, Sydney


Hi Fred, there has been a little bit of discussion on this very topic lately. You may find some additional info in some previous posts.
Considering your climate (same as mine), I would be inclined to remove the Ideal box and leave the Flow super for winter stores. For me I only leave them a few frames but its important to check the honey stores situation in your brood boxes. Rule of thumb stores for NSW is “1 frame of capped honey for every frame of brood”.
As the weather cools, expect the bees to draw honey from the supers and use this to insulate the brood box (a full honey frame on the outer edges, sometimes 1.5 - 2 frames of honey). So you may see your stores in the super deplete… we are still having 30C+ days at the moment so I wouldn’t expect any winter preparations in the brood box just yet. At this rate I don’t think I’ll be doing any winter preps till mid May sometime.
This was my Flow hive a few weeks ago, it is now full and I am intending to harvest 5 or 6 frames tonight as there is still nectar coming in.


Hello Fred, I would be looking in May as to the stores in the hive for winter, there is still time for more flow to come in with the cold weather usually after the full moon in June.
In the Sydney suburbs the bees will always find some food to keep them going over what is really a very mild winter climate for bees.
I would harvest the flow hive and leave the Flow Hive on for a couple of days, I would put the ideal onto the brood boxes now so the honey from the harvested flow hive is brought down to the ideal and even consider dropping another ideal on the top after you remove the cleaned out flow hive.


Thanks Peter48.
Firstly, I am located near Sydney Harbour and ocean, where temperatures in Winter rarely if ever go to below O degree. Am I correct in believing that in this area bees are able to find food through winter?
If I do harvest the honey from the Flow Hive now, what if some of the honey is not ripe yet.
I suspect one hive is only about 50% capped.
On one hive also the Ideal left on top of 2 brood boxes will only be about 50% filled with honey.
Thanks for your further thoughts.
Fred, Sydney.


Hello Fred, In your climate, say Gladesville, Mosman, Hunters Hill and the like as an example and if you have single full depth brood boxes with a single super on top, either a flow hive or a langstroth, I would leave it as is for the winter, especially if your hives have some sunshine on them.
If they are in mainly shade and a spot less than 2 metres away will give them considerably more sunshine you could move the hives that distance, but no more than that without about 10 days between ‘steps’ if a better sport is say 3 metres away, do that in 2 equal steps. Hold the same direction to North as the hives are in now if you can but they will still find the entrance if the hive is slowly rotated in say 30 degrees every 4 days.
If you have double Supers I would remove to leave one and leave them with uncapped frames, and remove empty frames. Leave whatever honey they have for the bees. You can put capped honey in the freezer, frame and all, for the bees if they need it or leave it on the hive if the single super and brood box has enough room. Handle frozen frames gently and let them thaw sitting vertically, don’t apply any heat to them during thawing, the longer that takes the better. 50% capped frames is not ripe and will ferment if extracted, leave that on the hive for the bees.
If your climate is similar to those I have guessed they will forage over winter but the honey stored will be used when it is raining, too windy or when there is not a lot of pollen and nectar about. The queen will reduce her laying over winter so the brood will be smaller but come the first of the Spring weather she will be back to laying constantly. At that time you will need to be watching for any swarming signs and be preemptive before it happens.
Think I have covered it but come back to me if you have questions or are not sure of anything.