Today being the first day of summer I decided I should check in on the bees again. This is the largest colony I’ve ever managed and I truly cannot believe how much honey they have already amassed. The shallow super was almost completely called, as was the deep super. The second deep super I put on a couple of weeks ago was still completely empty, but that’s more so because the frames themselves have no wax on them yet. All of the boxes (save the completely empty one) were astoundingly heavy and bursting with bees. Once I made it to the top brood box I was thrilled to see a couple of new frames of eggs, and a little surprised to see new swarm cells. The hive is definitely packed with bees but there’s room to grow still and with a new queen in charge I assumed the break in eggs would mitigate the urge to swarm. I had been planning on splitting the hive before they superseded their queen, so I decided I would go ahead and do that today since the new queen was obviously doing well for herself. Overall I saw about 30 new swarm cells in the hive.
I have two spare cardboard nuc boxes from when I bought bees last year, so I wanted to try making nucs myself, and I thought it would be easier because the new queen wouldn’t have too many eggs yet. I’m not really sure why I thought this, because as I began filling the two nucs with 2 frames of honey, 1 frame of eggs, 1 frame of capped brood, and 1 frame of pollen each, I finally moved into the first brood box. This box was filled, almost picture perfectly, with a frame of honey on each side, a frame of pollen next to those, and then 6 frames of capped or semi capped brood in the middle. Seeing this made me realize that making two nucs was going to do virtually nothing to reduce the urge to swarm. So I grabbed my second hive floor and roof and decided a proper split was also necessary.
So, Green Hive is now placed on the opposite end of the stand, i.e. the far left side. Green Hive has the new queen, 2 frames of capped honey in the lower deep, as well as one frame of pollen and two frames of brood in various stages. This hive has the deep super that was full of semi capped honey, and each box also has 5 empty frames from the two nucs. Green Hive also has the empty deep super.
White Hive is now where Green Hive was, on the right side. This hive has Green Hive’s first brood box, the second deep honey super, and the shallow super. All in all this was probably my most elaborate day yet, and I’m really hoping it all works. My mom came home later today and said one of her friends is breeding queens that he would sell to me, but I think it’s too late to put queens in the new hive and nucs. Here’s a pic of the new arrangement! Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I had a scrap piece of corrogated roofing material that I put on top of the two nucs, because even though they’re plastic coated cardboard, they’re still cardboard. The cover was just the right size to protect both of them, and I’ve put bricks on it to make sure it doesn’t blow away in the wind!
I didn’t realize exactly how long it had been since I checked on the bees until I peaked in on them today. They have FILLED the super and third deep with honey. I’ll likely have to take the super off before the end of July because they have capped more than half of the honey in it already. The third deep box is 50% capped at least. I was planning on splitting the hive today because I knew they would be close to packed by now, so I was only slightly surprised to find 13 swarm cells on a frame. Deep box #2 had full frames of capped brood and lots of pollen so they were certainly well prepared for a swarm.
the bottom box was ominously light, and the first three frames I picked up were almost completely empty. The fourth frame had a small cluster of capped brood that was closer to emerging than being capped on one side. On the other side was a supercedure call that had very obviously been used and partially removed. I searched all of the frames in the hive but I didn’t see the new or old queens, but on the frame next to the supercedure cell there was a cluster of 4-5 day old larvae.
I suppose the good news in all of this is that it breaks up the varroa mite’s lifecycle. I had pulled a frame of drone brood from the colony the last time I worked with them and put it in the freezer. I took it out of the freezer today to put back in the colony and found several mite’s had crawled out onto the cell caps while they were in the freezer. The last time I checked on the bees I saw several mites and had planned to treat them next week once it was consistently warm enough. I’ll wait to treat them now that the queen has been replaced, but I would still like to get a second colony so I know I’ll have bees next year. Oh and I forgot to mention I added another deep box to the hive. I’m worried they’ll fill in the brood best with honey before the new queen has a chance to properly start laying, so I’m giving them more room to deter that.
Here’s a pic of two frozen mites on capped drone brood (see top left corner and bottom right corner). And here’s my beehive!