My wife and I finally got back to see the hives this fine afternoon, after two hours working on her allotment with her. And they look very strong – both hives. The above picture is from the first hive, so it’s more populous, as it’s older. But that’s also why the comb is darker. I’m going to need to cut out some of these frames over next year and put new foundation in, to guard against disease.
But what you see here is honey across the top edge, with the whiter caps. The dark yellow/orange caps are brood, and I think the more domed ones top left of the picture are drones – they’re getting ready for mating flights early. I didn’t do a full inspection, but saw no sign of queen cells. I’ll look more completely next time. The bag of candy on top of this one was almost completely empty, but I didn’t replace it as there was still plenty of stores, and as you can also see here, they’ve begun filling cell with pollen too – the open yellow ones.
The real reason I was there, other than checking their health and stores, was to swap the Super and Brood boxes back over again. We’d put the Brood on top over winter, as they prefer to start at the top and work down, and it made dripping in the acid that helps deal with the Verroa mites easier. But we needed to put this right, and put the queen excluder in, before she got the chance to start laying brood where we want to be harvesting honey later…
So I dismantled the hive, cleaned the base, and put it back, Brood box first, then Super, with the queen excluder between, seen on the ground in brown above, and then checked to ensure she wasn’t already in the Super.
As you can see here. the comb in the Super had been eaten clean over the winter, and was ready for re-use, but had yet to receive any new stores. Perfect timing to switch it back to the top. They have plenty below, and prefer to store from the top, so should now start putting honey up here.
This hive then had the lid put back on, and we moved to the second one:
Given the colony was newer and went into the winter a lot smaller, it was still doing very well. There was more candy still in the bag under the lid, which I emptied onto the frame tops for them to deal with as they wish, and checked the Brood frames. The first I checked was pretty much empty, nearer me in the pictures, as shown below. But as I pulled out a frame from the other side I saw what I was looking for – plenty of new brood activity, as with the main hive. The frames in the Super though were also clean, so we switched those boxes over too.
This hive was then also put back together and strapped up tight. Next time I visit I’ll do a full inspection – hopefully with Emily there to help.