It's been a while since I've updated the blog, and there have been a few inspections to note.
Last Saturday, the 24th, I did a check of the Brown hive. A week earlier I had moved over a frame of eggs and larvae from the Green hive. I wanted to see if they'd make an emergency queen. I found the starts of a couple of queen cells, which is a good sign. See if you can spot them in these two pictures:
Last week, April 27th, I went out to the Sutton hives for a quick check on the new hive (Sutton Hive 2). The Saturday before I had installed a new package, and I wanted to check in the queen had been released. If she had, I need to get the queen cage out of the hive and put in the 10th frame. When you install a package you only put 9 frames in, to leave space for the queen cage (which was rubber-banded to one of the center frames). The bees will build burr comb in the space, and I didn't want that to happen more than it needed to.
When I got there, I checked, and the queen had been released. I also saw this burr comb attached to the inner cover:
You can see that all that beautiful comb is wasted, as I need to remove it to put in the extra frame.
The weather was really cool, windy, and a little rainy that day, so I didn't open up the hive any more than I needed to. I also put on some more sugar syrup, as they had consumed most of the syrup I left there on Saturday.
On Friday April 30th I took a day of vacation (to get some stuff done around the house, plus to get ready for a Boy Scout Campout that evening). I decided to go to the Sutton hives to give them a good looking over. I inspected Hive 2 and was pleased to see some good wax build out, as well as lots of eggs. The queen is doing what she is supposed to do! I also spotted the queen (since there aren't that many bees yet), and was able to capture her and mark her with a blue paint dot (for 2010). When I got the package, I couldn't specify that I wanted the queen marked, so she was unmarked.
The larger hive, Hive 1, was again teeming with bees. It has the queen excluder, and I am still not sure if I trapped the queen in the bottom part (like I want) or if she's in the top part. I haven't seen any new eggs, and it looks like the amount of capped brood in the top supers is going down (now pretty much just drone comb), so that's a good sign. I also haven't seen any signs of swarm cells, so they think everything is proceeding nicely.
I also have yet to find that queen in that hive - she is very good at hiding, and it is very frustrating! I want to find her to mark her so that she'll be easier to spot later. I am hoping to make a split off of her at some time. Part of the reason I haven't found her is that by the time I get 3/4 of the frames inspected, the bees are really angry and I just close it up.
Today I did a quick check of my own hives. The Green hive is doing great - I am seeing lots of brood and lots of eggs. But, I also saw what I though was the start of a single swarm cell on one of the frame. I moved around a few empty frames to give the queen more room and we'll see how she uses that space. If I see lots of swarm cells, I will pull those frames off into a split and see what happens.
On the Brown hive I found the 2 queen cells were capped. They didn't look as large and "good" as other queen cells I have seen, so things may not work out. But I am hoping for the best. By Michael Bush's math, the queen may emerge sometime mid this week. By next weekend I should see some empty queen cells. It'll take a couple more weeks for her to mate and start laying. Eggs should appear by May 18th if all goes well.
I moved over another frame of capped and uncapped brood from the Green hive (with nurse bees) to give the Brown hive some more population.