Six-ish Hives (An Update)

I used a digital recorder to record notes during our last inspection. A very helpful way to take notes because I would have forgotten or confused most of it otherwise, and the notes wouldn’t have been as detailed.

For those who are curious, we have potentially 6 hives on the go now, each of them with their own specific history and a unique set of challenges for us. Here’s a brief summary:

Hive #1: It swarmed last week and now appears to be queenless (no fresh or capped brood, though plenty of bees). We added a frame from Hive #2 that had a handful of freshly laid eggs on it, so they can make a new queen if they need one. We’ll see.

Hive #2: The foundationless hive. No sign of brood last week, but now we see fresh eggs and larvae. Hopefully by next week it’ll be full of capped brood. We added a honey super just in case it explodes and wants to make honey in a hurry. This hive has an old queen that needs to replaced as soon as possible.

Hive #3: Our strongest hive, the only one with follower-boards. It could be preparing to swarm (we accidentally destroyed what some call a wet queen cell). We reversed the brood boxes because the bottom box had many empty frames for the queen to lay. Hopefully that’ll prevent swarming at least until next week. It has two honey supers on it.

Hive #4: A large hive (3 deeps) that swarmed in our old city location a month ago. The top two deeps are full of uncapped honey. It has lots of bees but barely a single frame of brood in the bottom box. It could be queenless. We pulled three frames of uncapped honey from it for the caught swarm. It has two honey supers on top that are already being filled. I don’t know what to think about this one.

Hive #5: A split that was created a month ago with a grafted queen cell. It showed no sign of a mated queen until this week. We found one frame of solid brood and some larvae. It’s not off to races yet, but it could be.

Hive #6: The caught swarm from Hive #1. We hived the swarm last week, gave it some syrup and three frames of drawn out comb, and now the queen is beginning to lay. Not a solid pattern of brood yet, but they’re still drawing out the comb. We’re feeding it like we would with a regular nuc.

Some of the hives have hive top feeders. None of them have a great deal of capped brood yet, but hopefully they’ll stabilize soon.

The best looking hives are the split, the caught swarm and the foundationless hive, all of which show clear signs of a queen that’s beginning to lay well. That could change any minute, but so far so good.

We have two other hives that have swarmed in the past month, and could be queenless, and we have another hive that’s doing well but may be on the verge of swarming. So who knows what we’ll find next week. Two dead hives and another swarm? Possibly. We’ve ordered some mated queens that won’t arrive until July, but that’s another story. And so it goes.