Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Winter - Queen excluder

Hello, this my first winter with bees. Hoping you can help me out. I have a brood box, Queen excluder on top then a hybrid super. Should I remove the Queen excluder for winter? Is it okay for the Queen to be in flow super over winter? Members of my local bee club said they run their hives with two boxes over winter (not flow hives). I am in north west suburbs of Melbourne.
Thanking you in advance.

People in much colder climates with longer winters very successfully overwinter in single brood boxes. At this point, it may be better to find someone locally who can give you advice on how to pack down your hive and try overwintering in your single deep 8 frame.

But I don’t want to discount the local recommendations. Do your local club members use a deep and a shallow or medium?

To answer your question, you do not want the queen to lay eggs in your flow frames and you don’t want the excluder on over winter unless there is a continuous nectar flow.

If you want to overwinter in a brood double set up, then you’ll need another brood box or maybe you can replace your 3 flow frames with four traditional frame. I’m not sure how that would work but you’d obviously not want to open the access covers. Not sure how much foraging time your climate still allows but you may also need to feed them to get them all set for winter.

1 Like

Thank you. Members of my local bee club were using two full depths boxes or one full depth and one ideal. Definitely won’t be flow over winter so need to get rid of excluder.

I was keen to leave the flow super on to give the bees access to that honey. As you say maybe I just take the flow frames out and put in regular frames.

Please excuse my ignorance but what is the issue with the Queen laying in the flow frames over winter when I am not going to harvest from them? Does it ruin the frames or mean they are more susceptible to disease or pests?

Thank you one again!

Hi Tanya,
I’m west of Geelong, so a slightly cooler climate. I decided to go with the brood plus ideal set-up for winter.
It’s too late for that now for you. If the hybrid has honey in the outer frames, maybe move them to the middle and take out the flow frames and put standard frames to the outside.
If you do a search on this site, you can find out why you don’t want the queen laying in the flow frames.
You could also drain the flow frames and feed (all or some of) the honey back to the bees if they’re running low and run with a single brood box. It all depends on their honey stores. This weekend will probably be your last opportunity to take a peak, given the mild forecast.
You also need to remove the QX (if using a second box). The colony will slowly work it’s way up the frames as a cluster over winter. If the QX is in place, the queen will be left behind and wouldn’t survive.
Also, look up Illawarra Beekeepers videos online. They have an excellent thing on overwintering bees from Bruce White.
Hope this helps

PS. My first winter I went with a single brood box, which was fine.

1 Like

In short Tanya it just creates headaches.
Firstly… because of the cell size it will only produce drones which will in turn consume the resources that you are saving for your colony. They will also not be able to fit through your queen excluder when you replace it come spring time.
Secondly… you will end up with cocoons and other muck and debris in your Flow cells, then into your honey when you harvest.
Also hive beetles love drone brood!
In my opinion it’s just best practice not to take any risks of allowing the queen to lay in your Flow frames.
@Outbeck gave you some great advice!