Wintering bees in Sydney area, also bees backfilling brood box with honey

Yes as the bees prep for winter the brood nest contracts and the bees will backfill engineering the stores behind the brood in my experience. The queen starts slowing her rate of lay after the summer solstice in areas where there is a winter.

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Even in mild winters, bees like to insulate the broodbox with honey frames on the outside. Even Italian queens reduce laying eggs, carnie queens more so.
Just let them do their thing, they wanna be cozy for winter.
Definitely don’t manipulate brood under 22C.
Leave them bee till the next flow and warmer temps.


Do you find bees with a cluster in the middle and honey stores all round at winter time? That’s really interesting. What sort of winter temperatures do you get and do your bees get out much in that winter?

As the cooler weather sets in the queen will reduce her laying and some of the brood area will be used for honey and pollen. The honey stored in the brood box on the outer frames is a bees way of insulating the brood and the colony.
I would leave everything as it is over winter.

Hi Dee,
I’m interested if bees where you are in the UK, forage during most winter days? I’m guessing your winter maximums are around 8c and minimums around 2? Is that about right? They do where I am in Tas, but our daytime winter maximums are warmer on average…say about 12c. Also, they always have a little something to forage for here…with flowers of some sort all year…perhaps that is another factor there?

Hi @Dee. Not sure if you are asking me, but I can give you a run down of our winter bees.
Our climate is VERY local, as only 3km away down in the valleys there is frost.
Our normal lowest night temperature is around 10C, when day time goes up to around 20C. Winters are generally dry.

The bees don’t seem to cluster at all, just fill out 1 - 2 outside frames with honey mostly. Brood is in the middle frames, nice and cozy. Brood of Carnies is generally less, unless you got a new queen keen to start.
Orientation flights are smaller in winter, but still occur on sunny days.

Last year we had a dearth May till mid June, but then the wattle provided pollen.
This year, right now end of May, the bees bring in at least 3 different pollen colours.
Not sure what happened. Seems warmer overall and plants flower out of season.

Here we never have to worry the bees go up into the super and forget to feed the queen down in the broodbox.
There always seems to be enough around, even here way out bush, no gardens except our own.
Down by the beach is heaps more forage, like paperbarks and whatever people grow for flowers in winter.

It sounds so very different where you are. I guess you get frost?

Our real challenge is the rainy season in summer, if it comes. Weeks of rain. SHB and wax moths season.
Even if you must harvest in between, honey moisture can be high. Lots of beekeepers here learn to make mead. You can have a frame of 100% capped honey, yet it comes in at just under 18%.
I was lucky so far, but I will learn to make mead, as even 18% honey seems too runny to sell and since I learned dehumidifying honey always involves heating, we are not going to go this way.

Anyway, no real winter here to worry about. The SHB and wax moths are down, that’s a good thing. And not much danger of swarming.
In saying that, our club had a lot of swarms to take care of this May.
One of my bee colleagues thinks the bees swarm now because they have learned they can’t survive in weaker colonies in spring, due to SHB slime out danger. Maybe.
I sure noticed the bees keep keeping drones still now.

We tend to not get huge flows at a certain time, rather something about all year. Unless it’s a year some eucalyptus decides to Power Up. Most only flower every 3 or7 years.
Right now the flooded gum is flowering, happens every 3.4 years.

All of this is the reason why we get away with just one broodbox.

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Hi @Webclan
Yes I was asking you lot :smiley:

Winter temperatures are minima of maybe 4 or 5 and maxima around 8. The last few years the winters have been mild and rainy but this winter we had a late winter/ spring with snow and freezing gales. A proper winter has made the spring come late and the trees and dandelion come at once so supers are groaning but uncapped. I diverge… my bees are in well insulated poly and never really cluster. I have see through crown boards so I can look at them without disturbance. Stores are at the back away from the entrance with brood and bees at the front to guard their stores.

Yes we have frost though not for long
Our flows are fast and furious with a one month spring flow and a one month summer flow. Bees need lots of space to store the honey which isn’t capped till the pace slows down.


Yes not far from that.
Ivy is the last forage for our bees and it’s very valuable for them. That’s up to maybe October then there is nothing till willow in March/April. The bees can get out for a poop but not for food.

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Wow Dee, it’s a lot warmer at your place than I thought. With the poly hives you are prob safe and sound.
Do you think clustering would happen more in timber hives?

And fast and furious flows, we get that rarely up in the mountains. Last spring though I could hardly keep up with the harvesting.
Interesting that your bees gather when the time comes and cap later. Guess they are too busy and bring in too much nectar to fan it all down straight away.
Never thought of that. Thanks for the info.


Gulf stream effect, plus a bit of global warming, if you believe in it (unlike some politicians). :smile:


Interesting observation, that is eactly what I saw yesterday. My entrance reducer takes up one half of the entrance (LHS as you face the hive) That is where they had 3-4 frames of stored capped honey with most of the brood over the open entrance side (RHS). Smart little ladies!!!

Many thanks for the responses too. :+1: