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Wintering single brood hives- some questions

I only run single brood hives. In the past few years we have generally left our flow supers on- and on some hives I have with traditional supers I left one on too. However this winter I plan to remove all empty/partially filled supers.

However I am slightly worried about making sure the bees are not over-crowded- and also have enough stores. I am in Adelaide where winters are relatively mild and the bees can forage throughout. Often times brood boxes come out of winter with frame of honey intact. However at our bee society recently an experienced beek suggested that hives need around 17kg’s of honey to get through winter. I am fairly certain he is a ‘double brood’ man…

As an example of what I am concerned about: I am helping a girl who’s sister abandoned a hive that has two boxes. I inspected th other day and the top box is 100% fully capped honey. I plan to help her harvest that honey on Monday. I am not sure what to do after I have done that: replace the super with empty stickies- ir store it away for next year. I am unsure if all the bees will fit comfortably down into the one box.

I am considering putting ideals with QX’s on some hives as a compromise- but not sure if the bees will manage to put anything in them over the end of autumn- and if they will just make it harder for the bees to stay cozy.

Any thoughts?

Hi Jack, I think a good strategy for condensing bees into a single brood box would be to use a hive mat in conjunction with a migratory lid. A lot of bees can fit inside a migratory lid. Also as it cools & the queen reduces her laying, you’ll be surprised at how a colony can fit into a single super, especially seeing as more bees are required to keep the brood warm.

Keeping honey supers on colonies where the bees are not likely to occupy the frames, will only give rise to mold on those frames.

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most of my hives now have migratory lids and I use vinyl hive mats- so all good on that front. perhaps with the flow hives I will unblock the inner cover hole- or I will make some quilted boxes with a space at the bottom to mimic a migratory lid. Totally agree about redundant extra space- hives with vacant supers do not do well- it’s not just the mold- ants and other pests can become an issue and I am sure it is much harder for the bees to stay warm and defend.

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I agree Jack, you can use the space in the migratory lid as a guide to indicate if the bees need more room or not. If the bees population fits snugly under the mat, without an overflow into the lid space, you know that the bees don’t need any more room. The same thing applies coming out of winter. As soon as the bees start occupying the lid space, you know then to add the honey super in conjunction with swarm prevention.

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Hiya Jack, it was suggested to me by RBK, following a summer dearth that I experienced, to add an ideal, or in my case a WSP, that is purely for bee stores. The idea was to have the qx below it during flows and remove it when wintering so the bees can access it while clustering. This has worked well for me during our dearth but now I don’t bother having the qx between it and the bb and essentially use 2 bb’s year round although the WSP is predominantly honey with a small arc of brood. This is not common practice here in the west but as I said it works well for me in my area where I rely on native flora.
I probably don’t get the honey yealds I could but I don’t need to feed and probably adds some insulation when it cools down. It has also stopped the problem of brood arcs in the flow supers.

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