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Wintering hive - Perth - active colony


#1

I’ve been away for a couple of months. The bees were really active before i left and so i left the 3 boxes (inc. Harvested Flow) on top whilst away and so have returned to the start of winter, if it can be called that in Perth.

So i’ve checked the entrance and flow windows. There is definitely less activity at the entrance than 2 months ago but still plenty of pollen coming in. There are quite a few dead drones, which i presume is drone ejection.

When i look through the windows, the outer frame has some bees on it with some nectar stored. The end of the flow frames suggest plenty of activity on the central frames and nectar and some capped honey in the 4 central frames. I’ve photographed the ends of the frames so that i can see if the nectar quantities are increasing or going down.

I am planning to access all 3 boxes tomorrow to check whats inside.

If there are still plenty of bees covering the frames in all 3 boxes, should I leave it as is?

If I need to remove the flow box(top one), is there any way to encourage the bees to move the nectar and honey down first?

The current temps are 20 C in the day and 10 C at night.


#2

Hi Dunc, I think I would leave it be if there are plenty of bees covering all frames.

In relation to moving all the honey out of the flow super in the event that you need to remove it: What I would do is harvest all the honey, place a vinyl mat over the next lot of frames with a bee space all around it, put an empty super between that super & the flow super. The bees will go up to the flow super, clean up all the frames of residue honey & take it back down.

This is what I do with traditional frames & it works really well. They become what I now call “dry stickies”.


#3

Hi Dunc, I have very similar winter temps to you and I also practise what Jeff is suggesting. The mat prevents much of the heat from the bees rising to the top of the super and chilling the brood, its also prevents any condensation from dripping on to the brood from the roof. Looks like this:

I follow an age old beekeepers method for wintering in our climate which “a frame of honey for every frame of brood”, this will be different in colder climates but hasn’t failed me yet. My Flow super stays on the hive over winter as feed for the bees with 3 full flow frames and 4 partially full (I run single 10 frame brood boxes). There is a risk that the honey could crystallise in the frames but so far so good. If you take off your Flow super then make sure you store it well (sealed to prevent ants, moths,etc)


#4

So after a long inspection. Here is a summary of what I found by box (eight frame)…

TOP (flow hive)
Plenty of honey - 3 full flow frames and nectar in the rest.

QX

MIDDLE
Two outer frames of honey. With another 1-2 frames worth distributed across the other frames.
Some drone and worker brood but very limited and patchy.
Lots of empty brood comb.
Some pollen - It wasn’t distributed in a dome though, it was in pockets here and there.

BOTTOM
Two outer frames of honey. With additional spread across the other frames.
Two frames of worker brood + some small patches of worker brood on the other frames.
Appreciable levels of empty brood comb.
Some pollen.

What To Do?
I’ve put a cover board beneath the flow hive box for the moment… I didn’t have my hive mat to hand.

It seems to me I have two options (but I bet there are a hundred others)…

  1. Replace cover board with hive mat (no QX) and see if they move the nectar down. - possibly leave the three boxes like this over winter or remove flow box. Maybe insulate?

  2. Swap the middle and top box with a hive mat between, as there is less for the bees to move (middle box is half empty brood comb). Then remove the box once the bees have shifted everything.


#5

what I have done with my flow hive is put the top board, the one with 2 inch hole in it, onto the brood box…

then

with some corflute, make it the same as the top board, with hole in middle, and put it on the super to keep it insulated with just a small area to guard with that one hole…

the bees emptied out all of the outter frames which had crystalised… but they have still set themselves up within the middle frames of the super…

so be it… if there’s enough for to sustain them then I will leave them there… they know wat they are doing :wink:


#6

We’re in Adelaide- this winter has been relatively mild. The bees are still foraging on sunny days and bringing back pollen. We drained our frames and removed the super for the winter. now I am wondering if that was necessary? There is a lot of talk of the brood moving into a super- and the queen freezing- however is this more of an issue in really cold sub zero climates with freezing temps? Adelaide has more of a Mediterranean climate. It’s cold at night- but rarely below zero. No snow or anything. I do think it is common for people to remove their standard supers here though. Be interested in what people think?

As an aside the honey we robbed before we removed the super candied quite fast- would the same thing happen in the hive? And if so would the bees either eat it all anyhow without issue- and/or would it turn back to liquid if it was left in the hive until spring? Or- if left over winter could it cause an issue if there was a substantial amount of candied honey in the flow frames?