It's always a good idea to keep a Bee Journal - full of notes on your observations on the progress of your hives. I'll be doing so digitally, with my series called "Bee Notes" here on the Fox's Garden blog.
Bee Notes is a series of observations about my two hives - two separate colonies and superorganisms.
Hive 1 & Queen 1 is named Adela.
Hive 2 & Queen 2 is named Helena.
This was my first solo hive inspection! I inspected the hives around 10:00am on a clear sunny day at around 70 degrees and with limited breeze or wind.
I opened up the colony of Adela after removing the reducer that the hives had traveled with. It appeared as though the bees had taken about half of the sugar syrup that I had left for them on Sunday May 10th.
The hive was alive and buzzing. The bees looked healthy with clear wings and were moving around. You could see workers leaving the hive, and workers returning with saddlebags full of pollen.
The bees had begun building up the empty frames that had been installed with the 5 original nuc frames. I could see nectar and pollen stores that had begun to be built.
There was capped worker brood, a few capped drone brood, and lots of mid aged larva.
To get an idea of what I'm talking about - and as an awesome reference - check out the different types of cells here ---> Comb Identification.
Eggs were hard to find. This could be my lack of experience... or something could be going wrong.
I found a queen cup and squished it 😳
Royal Jelly came out.
This wasn't the only one.
On another center frame I found several more queen cups, one of which was being heavily attended - so I didn't mess with it.
If my understanding is correct - this may be a sign that the Adela colony is looking to swarm.
I have a few options.
1. Go back and cut out all the Queen Cups.
2. Allow the hive to naturally swarm and hope for the best.
3. Order bee equipment in hopes it shows up soon and try to split the hive.
4. Install a new box ASAP in hope that more space discourages the hive to swarm.
I'm thinking of going with #4 - and will install a new deep box this afternoon.
After closing the colony of Adela, I opened up Helena. The colony of Helena was very active, and a bit more aggressive and suspicious towards me than the bees of Adela. The bees here had also taken about half of the sugar syrup I had left for them on May 10th.
This hive was very, very busy - with many workers coming and going. There were many workers returning with saddlebags of yellow and orange pollen.
The hive reducer was in there pretty tight, so I was only able to remove it after opening up the hive and lifting up the entire box.
Inside the hive, the workers had already drawn comb on a few of the new frames. There were pollen stores on the outer frames and nectar.
I found eggs, larva, capped worker and drone brood. I did not see any queen cups in this hive.
One of the frames had a free standing foundation and was very fragile. It also held a lot of the brood on there.
I think I'm going to go ahead and install a new deep box on this hive this afternoon as well.... just in case.
Both hives look healthy, as in the bees themselves look healthy, there are food stores, and new comb is being drawn. There is no visible evidence of pests within the hive.
It may be that the colony of Adela is looking to swarm. This would explain the multiple queen cups and the limited amount of eggs - as well as the super large amount of mid worker brood about to hatch.
I'll do my best to avoid the swarm, but if that fails, I'll just have to hope that the new queen survives and builds a happy colony.
This has taught me that it's a good idea to have another deep hive box or nuc box on hand in the spring in case I need to split a hive to avoid swarming.
For the first time handling all the bees, I wore my suit, used pine straw in the smoker, but went in barehanded. As long as I took my time, made smooth and slow movements, and smoked the hive occasionally, all went well. Some bees would check out my hands, but a little blow of air from my mouth would shoo them away.
It was a magical experience and I can't wait to examine the hive again next week.