Took some time around 5:15PM to inspect the backyard hives today. The thermometer said 68 degrees, but when you are in a bee suit, it's still hot! I use a Nike terry-cloth headband, so it absorbs the sweat to keep it from dripping down in my eyes; but you still sweat like a son-of-a-gun. I wear kitchen gloves, and they fill with sweat when I am through, and my clothes under the suit were soaked!
I was interest to see how this hive was progressing. I put a jar of feed on last week, and this hive was strong enough to keep out the robbers. When I pulled off the top cover, they still had a couple of inches of syrup to go:
Under the inner cover was a pretty good collection of bees, given this was a week old hive made from a nuc.
I like to judge how well a hive is doing by how many bees I see on the top bars when I open up the hive (before smoking, since smoking chases the bees down).
On the frame below, if you look (enlarged) in the upper left area, you can see eggs and young larvae:
I saw the queen (didn't bother to take a picture), and I also saw a frame of good brood:
So this hive is doing fine.
The honey super on this hive is dry as a bone. Don't know what it will take to get them to put some honey in there! There was some good honey in the upper brood chamber though, so they aren't hurting for food.
Found the queen on this one. It has the orange dot I put on her (to differentiate from the queen I tried to install a couple of weeks ago, which had a white dot).
There was also a foundationless frame they continue to build up:
They are making this frame large cell comb, which they are using for drone cells.
But I did see something strange on one of the frames - a swarm cell:
It looked like it was kind of old, so I debated on whether I should pull off this frame and a few others for a nuc. In the end I decided not to. I pulled off this swarm cell, and it was old and dry, not viable. Good thing I didn't go to the trouble of making a nuc that had no chance of success.
I noticed in the bottom box some new undrawn foundation that I had put in many weeks ago. The bees had done nothing with drawing out the comb, so I replaced them with drawn comb (left over from the old green hive). This'll give the bees more room to lay.
This hive continues to almost finish off some of the frames of honey:
They've been "almost" for many weeks now - I can't seem to get them to finish them off!
I was reading some of the posts on Beesource and found an interesting comment on someone with my same problem with honey supers. The person said that the bees won't finish off the frames if there isn't more space for more honey. So I decided to add a super to the hive. Other local beekeeper friends are pulling in honey left and right, so I suspect it's still out there
I also read that to encourage the acceptance of a new super (of undrawn comb), you should spray it with sugar syrup so that it is dripping off. So that's what I did.
When adding a super, you can either "top" super or "bottom" super. Top supering means adding the empty super on top of the existing super; bottom supering involves adding the empty super underneath the existing super(s). People have opinions one way or the other, and there is no clear consensus (just like much of beekeeping). Since I had the existing super off anyway, I decided to bottom super - give them the empty space closer to the bottom entrance.
While I was examining this hive, the bees were really giving me grief. They were a lot of bees flying in my face and buzzing angrily - almost as if there were no queen (cue ominous music).
Lots of bees on the top bars of the bottom chamber - a good sign:
But... when I was inspecting the top box, I found quite a few supercedure cells on multiple frames:
And then on the back of the same frame, I found supercedure cells which are opened:
I also didn't see any new eggs or young larvae, nor did I find the (marked) queen. I suspect the queen is gone (I don't know why). But they made supercedure cells, so there could be a virgin queen running around.
So I'll keep an eye on the hive, to see if a queen develops in a few weeks.
Here's the apiary as it stands now:
I chuckled that the hives are increasing heights. Reminds me of the old AT&T wireless advertising: