I just checked, and the last time I was out at Sutton was 4/20, so I decided to go this weekend. It's kind of a hassle, since it's about 1/2 hour away. I need to put stuff in my truck that I may need, not knowing what I might find. It's not as convenient as just walking around to my garage to get what I need for my backyard hives!
Sutton Hive 1
Hive 1 had a honey super on it over a queen excluder, and based on last year, I was expecting it to be very heavy. But I was surprised - it was bone dry!
The bees had built some burr comb between the queen excluder and the top bars, but not too much
Here's the queen (on the brown wooden bottom rail; with an orange dot)
I was wondering why the bees didn't put any nectar/honey in the super. But I have a suspicion. Here is how I found the queen excluder:
This is an old style excluder, with wooden slats in between the bars of the excluder. It's not a problem, but just an older style. What may be a problem is that you see that bees had propolised up the spaces between the slats a lot. My theory is that the bees are considering the queen excluder as the "top" of their hive, and won't put nectar outside the hive.
I think I'm going to switch to the full grid queen excluders, like I have in my other hives.
Plenty of bees in this hive!
Sutton Hive 2
Saw a few bees just hanging out on the porch on this hive.
Same story here - no honey in the super; the queen excluder was almost closed up.
In the upper brood chamber, the first frame I pulled out weighed a ton! No wonder - it is packed full of honey!
Saw lots of bees, but I also saw this:
This is an opened queen cell. So it looks like this hive may have swarmed, and there is a new queen here.
I have terrible luck finding queens in the Sutton hives - they are so full of bees, and in the past had been a little nasty when I inspected frame by frame. I didn't see the queen in the upper chamber, which is where she usually hangs out.
But when I was inspecting the lower chamber, a couple of frames in I found her! See if you can spot her on this frame:
It was kind of comical - I wasn't expecting to find her, so I didn't have out any of my stuff for marking her. When I did find her, I was holding the frame in one hand, trying not to lose sight of her on the frame, while I was digging around my tool box getting out my marking supplies. Then I had to get her into the tube which wasn't easy. But I succeeded and now she is sporting a white dot!
In addition to the open queen cells, I found some queen cells which were ripe and not yet hatched. I decided to pull those (plus a few other frames) into the nuc which I brought, and take it back to my bee yard to see if I can get another queen out of the mix.
Back at the homefront, I wanted to check out the Brown Hive. The last couple of inspection I found lots and lots of nectar, but no eggs. In fact, I took out a few frames of nectar (and gave them to some of the nucs) to keep that hive from becoming honey bound (where the cells are full of honey, and the queen has no place to lay). Again, I was concerned about the lack of a queen.
Here is one of the new frames I put in last week. Look at all that nice honey stored along the top, and the pollen also!
Then I found this (zoom in to see):
Eggs! This hive has a queen! I didn't see her, but then I didn't really look closely. I'll leave things be and check next time. But I am happy! That's why I labeled this post "The Bees Know" because I chose not to panic and go out and buy a queen bee for the Brown Hive (like I did last year). The bees know what they are doing...
The queen in the Grey Nuc continues to do well. Nice brood!
I did notice in almost all of my nucs evidence of a little bit of chalkbrood (look below at the cells with a white object in them).
These nucs sit at the edge of my yard, under some tree leaves. It is my theory that if a hive has a lot of moisture, they will develop chalk brood. These nucs don't get a lot of sun, and we've had a lot of rain.
The amount of chalkbrood is not excessive, so I'll keep an eye on things.
Here's the queen bee in the Grey Nuc, and behind her you can see lots of eggs. Yay!
Checking out the Blue Nuc, I found those same unhatched queen cells on the bottom of the frame, and no queen or eggs in the nuc. Definitely a bad situation.
So what could I do? I could buy a queen and put her in there. But I decided to do something different.
I decided to take the queen out of the Grey Nuc and install her into the Blue Nuc. The queen was laying eggs very well, and the bees in the Grey Nuc will discover that they are queenless, and make a queen out of one of those cells. Then in a few weeks they'll have a queen.
I took the queen and put her in a queen cage I had:
I didn't use candy to plug the hole, I used a stick. This way I can control when she is released (probably in a couple of days).
Here she is sitting on the Blue Nuc. I'll wedge her in between the bars to let the bees get used to her. It really won't be a problem, since this hive is queenless, and queenless hives are very accepting to queens.
Here are the Blue Nuc and the Brown Nuc (from the Sutton hive)