I performed the first full hive inspection of the year yesterday. I also reversed the brood boxes while I was at it. Next year I plan to reverse the boxes shortly after the bees start hauling in pollen from the crocuses (instead of waiting until the dandelions bloom). Whether from dandelions or crocuses, if the bees bring in pollen at a steady pace for about a week, that’s my cue to reverse the brood boxes. Had I reversed them a few weeks ago, I might have been able to avoid the disgusting mess of scraping off drone comb between the frames of the top and bottom boxes. I could have avoided splitting up the brood nest too. Check out Honey Bee Suite for more info on reversing boxes.
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The inspection went well. I saw at least seven frames of open and capped brood in the first box and several frames in the second box. The edge frames were full of honey. Old and fresh pollen was stored all around the brood. The bottom box (now the new top box) had plenty of empty cells for the queen to lay. It was perfect. If the warm weather keeps up, it won’t be long before that colony is busting at the seams and we’ll have to start pulling frames or checker boarding.
A note about scraping off the drone comb from between the frames (edited out of the video because it wasn’t on camera): We didn’t have to deal with the drone comb between the frames last year when we reversed the boxes because we only had foundationless hives then (that’s my best guess, anyway). There is no lack of space for drone cells in a foundationless hive. Conventional hives of plastic foundation with cells sized only for worker brood don’t provide space for drone cells, so the queen lays them whenever she can — along the edges of the frames and between the brood boxes. I’m tempted to put a foundationless frame in my hives next spring just to avoid that mess.
P.S.: This hive happens to be the one with follower boards (or dummy boards). I can’t compare it to the other hive that’s sans follower boards and was also started from a nuc last year, but so far it’s looking great.