I went out to the hives again yesterday with Joe. Here’s the report:
Sigh… This hive had a new queen last time. A queen who has now found a new home elsewhere…. Yep, she swarmed again. Dumb thing.
The bees are out to the fifth bar, but the numbers are low, there is no sign of queen cells, and there is a handful of brood. I suspect she’s a goner.
Hive 1, as usual, is doing quite well. I was worried about them being too light last time, but they have added some ten pounds over the last two weeks. We did not see the queen, but she’s still got a great brood pattern with lots of young eggs.
This hive is doing spectacularly well, maybe even better than Hive 1. We couldn’t find the queen, but we quickly found eggs and shut the hive up.
Remember the egg-laying worker? Well, we pulled this hive open and found one monstrous queen cell hanging off it. The bottom was torn open, and we figured the worst. I also quickly found brood patches of poorly lain drone eggs, double eggs, and eggs on the side walls of cells. Sigh…
And then Joe spotted the queen! By the look of her, she had maybe hatched a few hours earlier at most, and she was looking good. Apparently the fresh eggs helped!
After all the trouble of the last few weeks, I decided to start up a nuc hive to help rear queens, brood, and honey for troubled hives. I had heard about doing that a long time ago, but never thought to actually do it until this trouble with swarms out of the top bar and the egg-layer in Hive 3.
I pulled led two heavy frames from Hive 2, and a frame of honey from last year’s hives and threw it all together with two more empty frames in the wood nuc hive I have. We will see what happens, but assuming they get a queen, I may shake this hive into the top bar or pull the queen and put her in the top bar. In the meantime, I’m going to investigate what is happening in the top bar to drive the bees to swarm. I’m assuming it is something in the hive itself. That hive had, at one point, wax moths, but it was cleaned pretty good and frozen over the winter. If I can get bees to stay in there, I’d really like to have a top bar running.
So despite my worries that I would find three overwhelming this year to operate alone, I find myself back at five–well 4.5–with a new and improved assistant! I’ve taken a very lazy approach this year. I don’t dig deep, I close up fast, and I don’t waste time doing things that don’t really impact them. I’ve also stopped pulling bridge comb and drone comb. Because of that, Joe and I did all the hives, including creating the nuc, in about 45 minutes on Saturday. That’s perfect.