Well, we inspected Hive #1 today because we were concerned about swarming. We found a few queen
cells cups, but also plenty of empty cells for the queen to keep laying. I don’t think the colony is at risk of swarming. It does, however, seem to be overrun by drones. This frame containing both capped worker brood and drone brood was one of the better looking frames — because it wasn’t filled entirely with drones:
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Can you spot the monster drones?
Here’s a recently added foundationless frame that’s probably on its way to being filled with drones:
I sure hope this foundationless route pays off, because man, I’m guessing at least 1/4 of the frames are full of drone brood in Hive #1. I know they’re supposed to switch to worker brood eventually, but Newfoundland has a very short summer and the clock is ticking. They better get to it soon. In total I would say there are about five or six frames or worker brood in the entire hive along with some scattered honey and pollen, and not a great deal of either of those either. As discouraging as it is to see a hive overflowing with drones, it does seem like a healthy colony with a good sized population. I didn’t see any eggs, though, so I don’t know. It might be queenless too. I don’t even want to think about that.
That’s the hive after the inspection. The inspection took longer than it should have and we overstayed our welcome. Anyway…
I’ve decided to buy foundation for one of our two nucs this year. I’ve been on board the Backwards Beekeeping bandwagon from the start, but I want to be a witness to the pros and cons of foundationless as well as conventional beekeeping. So this year one of our hives will be foundationless (and perhaps an all-medium-super hive too), and the other will be a conventional hive with foundation. We’ll see how each of them makes out by the end of next summer. Let the games begin!