Before I get to the inspection, I wanted to show something I saw back on the 17th. It was a rainy day, and the bees weren't out, but I saw this on their front porch:
I have seen dead bees before, but they are usually shriveled up corpses that the undertaker bees remove. These look like bees that just died.
I asked about this on BeeSource and a couple of people said it looked like the bees got poisoned by some pesticide. That's possible - there has been a lot of yard work going on in the neighborhood, and wouldn't put it past that something was used that could harm the bees. I lifted up the lid on top and saw plenty of bees, so I don't think anything too drastic happened to the hive. In fact, the next evening the porch was perfectly clean, as if nothing happened.
Anyway, on to the inspection... Tuesday I took a day off to get some of my chores done, and since it was in the mid to upper 60's it was a perfect day to inspect the hive.
When the weather is warm, this hive sees a lot of activity. The queen was doing her thing, as evidenced by this frame:
I don't know if you can tell, but there are a good number of drone bees on this frame (look for bees with squat square butts, and big eyes that wrap around the top of their heads). Also note along the bottom the extra brace comb which is being used for drone cells.
I also got lucky and saw the queen:
She's standing on the wooden edge in the middle of the picture.
On the 11th I added a honey super in the off chance a nectar flow would occur, and I could catch some honey. All I have are plastic frames which are not drawn out into comb yet. Last year the bees did nothing with those frames. I heard that if you "prime" the super by putting a couple of drawn-out frames in it, the bees will figure out what to do. So I purchased a couple of frames from a fellow beekeeper. One of those frames had crystallized honey still in it. He said, just slap it on the hives - the bees will clean it out. Well, sure enough, when I checked it Tuesday I couldn't tell it apart from the other frame which was empty. Unfortunately, they haven't even begun to fill any honey in the super. A quick e-mail to another beekeeping friend tell me that the main nectar flow occurred last year at the end of May / beginning of June, so I may be a little premature. I had such a bad honey experience last year I don't want to miss it this year!
The brown hive continues to struggle. Here's what it looked like when I popped the top:
There are bees in the hive, but not many. And not a single capped cell any more (they were all born). There was a queen cell a few weeks ago, but no sign today. I brought over a frame of eggs and larvae from the Green hive; we'll see if this hive makes a queen from it. I'll check it in a week or so. I may end up buying a queen.
So, one hive doing well, and one struggling.