Hi there, temperatures in Tuross have been between 3-18 with a cold snap coming towards the end of the week. I’ll be away for a week but am scared to go. My bees are very active and have been getting out most days and are making honey in the super, foraging has been plentiful during the winter. I have noticed quite a few big fat drones flying in and out of the hive. There have been a few dead ones lying around outside the hive also. I was of planning on doing a thorough hive inspection when I get back on the 19/8 but am wondering if I should be doing it before I go. I’m suspicious of the drones. What do people think open before or after?
Hey Shayne, Drones will fly in and out of the hive all year down there the same as worker bees, remember orientation and cleansing flights, drones do it too, and drones die, so you are not saying anything unexpected.
What I would do is to extract a frame or two of capped honey if you fear the hive is honey bound and do a full inspection when you get back home. Doing that will give the bees work to do while you are away. I really doubt it will get warm enough to worry about swarming if that is your thinking. But that could be an issue about the end of September onwards, thinking your climate might be similar enough to the Hawkesbury west of Sydney when it was an issue for me.
I’ll inspect when I get back. The reason I said it’s unusual to see drones is because they all got kicked out of the hive on mass at the end of Autumn. The girls didn’t want to feed any extra surplus to requirement mouths and now they’re back because spring is upon us. We’ve survived their first winter the bees and I. Your climate does sound close to ours and being on the ocean side we don’t get frosts.
The girls have been able to forage most days and there are plenty of flowers, spotted gum trees and banksias here all year round. I’ve been busy planting winter flowering plants for the girls and all the lavenders, calaminthas and happy wanderers have been very attractive to them so they don’t have to go far from home to stock up the pantry frames.
Thanks, I appreciate the advice, it’s just good to hear from someone with years of experience.
Kicking drones out in late Autumn would be normal down your way, as is drones building up in about this time. When I was living up in the Hawkesbury it was common to get to -5c to -7 of a night and frost were heavy there, but my thinking is that your winter is much milder.
But we also should consider that the climate is changing and we might have to adjust our bee keeping to suit climate changes in some areas.
I’m up on the Sunshine Coast in Qld now and I had a period of 3 months that my colonies lived off their store over last Summer, lot of flowering in the bush but no nectar. Our Summer rains failed completely and record high temperatures giving a long and hot Summer. Now here it has been my warmest Winter on record so I would hate to pick what this season might be.