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Wintering with the queen excluder in Perth (Australia)?


#1

Hi all,

I am looking for advice from experienced beekeepers in Perth as to whether I can leave on the queen excluder (and hence the flow frames) during winter here. We are in the hills so a wee bit colder than the city. It was very cold this winter this year and we got down to 2.5C once. Mostly we sit in the double digits, but occasionally around 4C overnight.

My plan is to have a box of honey which I will leave on in winter and remove the flow super and queen excluder to allow clustering. I will then get the brood back to one box come spring and reinstate the excluder & flow hive. However, I am wondering if this is actually necessary here, or if I can make life a lot easier for myself by just leaving them as is.

Appreciate thought & plans from locals,

Cheers,

Julia


#2

Hi Julia,
Not sure what you are asking here.
If you want to leave the flow super on over winter that would be OK only if it has plenty of honey in it. I take the Flow super off over winter so the Queen Excluder is a non issue.
If you want to replace the Flow super with another box of honey that would be fine and there is no need for a queen excluder. However if you take that
box of honey (or depleted honey) away and replace it with the Flow super you would have to ensure you don’t take away the queen.


#3

Sorry for being confusing.

The question is not really about the flow super, simply if I can leave the queen excluder in between the brood box and full honey super (flow or standard) during winter, or if it will get cold enough for the bees to cluster & the queen to freeze.

Cheers,

Julia


#4

Last winter I had two fd boxes which were on summer and autumn. Come early spring when I removed the top box to add the qx and super, it was empty.
Even though we get those low temps during winter there are still fine days where the bees are able to go out and forage.
I have taken RBK’s advice and added a WSP box above the qx and below the FF and will remove the qx at the end of Autumn. This WSP will be a permanent fixture to the hive. Come spring I will replace the qx and check for eggs in the WSP after a couple of weeks to see if the queen is in there.
So to answer your question, I would not leave the qx on throughout winter.


#5

I live NOR around Wanneroo/Joondalup/Jandabup area. Going into last winter my colony was only a few months old. I put the flow frames on in September (late August?) when I noticed my colony expanding. I’ve had the excluder on since I rehomed the Nuc. This winter my intent is to remove my flow super but keep the hybrid super in place and just monitor hive strength.

I wouldn’t be worried about it being too cold. Most of the cold weather concerns don’t seem to apply to Perth, especially the metro area. We typically don’t get below 5degc and most days are mid to high teens, if not pushing into the low 20s (degC). Last winter my bees were out foraging when it wasn’t raining.


#6

Hello there,

I am interested in this idea as well- I am in adelaide- I think our winters are similar to yours.

Reading around it there is a lot of talk of having to remove supers over winter. The fear is of the cluster moving up and the queen freezing. However I am wondering if this is always necessary in more moderate climates with little or no frost- the bees in my mothers hive continued to forage right throughout winter?

We removed the flow super and added it back in spring and that went well. But at the end of winter there were several frames of fully capped honey in the brood box. In hindsight I think we could have just left the super on. Removing it entailed draining it - even though it was 60% full of unripe watery nectar. We froze that and made mead from it and fed some back to the bees in spring.

For my own hives this year I am going to experiment with leaving the flow super on some of them. I think there is some potential for winter honey flows here in adelaide- and even if not I think the bees will manage OK in our climate and won’t abandon the queen. One thing I will do though: is block all upper ventilation and insulate the roof over winter. I will only have bottom ventilation. The idea will be that the heat can rise and keep the super warm- but not too much will be lost through the roof (no chimney affect)- and the ceiling will be the warmer than the lower walls of the hive so water won’t condense on the roof and drip back down. The humid air should flow down the cooler walls and exit/get replaced at the bottom of the hive.


#7

I should also point out that my hive is located alongside a wall so it does benefit from radiant heat to a small extent.


#8

Thanks all,

It seems people are going to try a range of things this winter so it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out come spring. We are about 2 degrees hotter in summer and colder in winter than the metro area propper, so I think I’ll try removing the QX this time just to be super cautious. I also want the most possible bees going into spring and will be interested to see if my queens keep laying through winter.

Hopefully you brave ones experimenting can post your results come spring and we can see what works best for people.

Cheers heaps,

Julia


#9

Hey skeggley, excuse my ignorance, but what is a WSP?


#10

@Neddy, I’m not @skeggley but the answer to your question is…

http://johnlguilfoyle.com.au/australian%20hive%20sizes.htm

WSP - (Named after Mr. Wyn Pender, a famous Australian manufacturer of equipment)


#11

Hiya Neddy and snowflake, you beat me to it.
Here in West Oz we pretty much only have two available sizes, full depth and WSP.
A WSP size is about 3/4 of full depth.
.


#12

Thanks. I am a newbeek and although I read lots I am still learning. I am in Perth too and trying to figure out operating the flow hive as well as learn from non flow hive people. So all this talk on 2nd brood boxes and extra supers and frames…my head hurts!


#13

Ha I know the feeling. I did a lot of reading before I got bees and it gave me a platform to work off it also gave me a sore head! After getting bees, doing inspections and seeing what I had read, the understanding grows.
Still so much more to learn!