Did an inspection today of the home hives, and I'll share the good news first.
I know I said I was going to leave them alone until June 12th, but I couldn't resist. I first looked at the frame with no foundation, and saw that the bees were building more comb. Here's a picture:
What is interesting about this picture is the fact that in the middle and along the bottom edge of the rightmost piece of comb is a solid clump of bees (you can see the grass through the clump of bees in the middle). This is called festooning, and is how bees make comb. Some bees hang together on each other while other bees take the wax from the wax glands (here is a blog post with great pictures of bees and wax glands - fascinating!). They also use the hanging bodies as a guide, as you will, on now to shape the comb.
I looked at the other frames, and I saw something that made me do a double take - on one of the frames, I thought I saw a bunch of young larvae. I looked closer in the sun, and sure enough! That means the brown nuc has a new laying queen!! To the old time beekeepers, this may not be a big deal, but to me it is. It is the first time I did a split and made a queen successfully (last year I had a swarm and a new queen, but that was without my involvement).
I looked on that frame more, and actually saw her majesty scampering across the frame. I was very elated!! I wanted to mark her with a blue dot, but didn't have my bee tool box (with the paint pen in it) near the nuc. I put the frame back, and went and got the pen. Then when I pulled the frame out again, I couldn't find her!
I looked at the next frame, and no queen. Then I looked at the frame on the other side, and there she was. I was able to gently grab her and now she is sporting a nice pretty blue dot on her thorax (I hear it's all the rage in Paris!).
After my success at seeing a queen in the brown nuc, I was excited to make it a two-for-two day. Unfortunately, the gray nuc doesn't show any sign of eggs or larvae. You'll remember last week I saw those unexpected queen cells in this nuc, and as such, it is too early to see any eggs. So I'll give that box some more time. If a couple more weeks pass without any eggs, I'll probably combine those bees with the brown nuc. My wife suggested I make a new full size hive - we'll see.
The green hive still hasn't done much with the honey super on top. There is a drawn frame with nectar, but it isn't close to being capped. The other undrawn frames are basically untouched. But inside the hive there are a couple of deep frames in the upper super which are full of nectar - when I split the hive a few weeks ago, the bees decided to use the upper brood chamber to store nectar. That's OK - if they cap it, I can always spin it out and get the honey.
But in this hive I saw a lot of eggs and larvae. Look at this wonderful brood pattern:
If you zoom into the second picture above you should be able to see eggs and young larvae.
This queen is from last year (green dot) and is still going strong. It's a good thing to see. I thought about replacing her, but since she is still doing so well, I'm going to let her be.
The brown hive is doing absolutely nothing in the super - no nectar whatsoever. That is understandable, since the bee population is so small. But I did see the queen down below, and saw some eggs. Look here:
There are a few frames in the upper deep which have honey, but I am not inclined to extract those, since they were there when I was doing some feeding of sugar syrup. So I can't guarantee the honey isn't just my processed sugar. If I do any extraction (to free up space for laying) I'll keep the "honey" to feed back to the bees later.
All in all things are going fine. These hives may not yield much if any honey, but that's OK. I'm happy to have healthy and thriving hives. And who knows, later in the year they may surprise me.