Today I did my first hive inspection of the year, and I even had a new helper (Shiloh). It was nice to have someone out there again.
I only have a single survivor hive, and I went through each box selecting a few frames only to look at. The hive itself was quite strong. If you remember, I had a full two deeps and a two mediums on this particular hive. When we pulled the cover off, the top two mediums were quite full of bees, and the two deeps were about 50% each. I’d guess that I had a good two deeps worth of bees. Shiloh also pointed out that one of the cells that was ripped open moving the supers off had what appeared to be a potential queen cell (lots of royal jelly in it!). It was the only one we really noticed, so I’m not sure that the hive was thinking swarming or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
We decided to split this hive today, and we conducted an artificial split moving a lot of the brood and nurse bees to a hive in a new location. We didn’t do as good of a job as I would normally do on a split, and I admit to feeling a little off today with beekeeping. Not as confident as I normally am. It felt much more chore-like than enjoyable this time, and I think that’s because I spent the morning weeding, mowing, and otherwise caring for the outside of the house. I was tired by the time we got to the bees.
Hive 1 is strong, looks healthy, good brood patterns, and plenty of eggs. Lower on the honey, but we’ve got a good nectar flow right now between the fruit trees and the dandelions.
The newly created Hive 3 (we left space to put a new Hive 2 in the middle) is smallish, with a good enough honey supply. They have most of the brood and nurse bees with several frames of eggs with which to create queens. We tried to find the queen and make sure she stayed with Hive 1. We never did see her, but I’m 90% sure she’s not in Hive 3, which is good.
My two new packages come this next week, and it looks like we are going to use the top bar hive. That’ll be an interesting experience. I had debated not using it all, but since we split, we don’t have much of a choice. I’m okay with that.