I'm proud to say that I have four thriving colonies in my humble backyard apiary. Months ago, I somehow got the idea that this may be a "run of the mill" season as far as my beekeeping goes. But that all quickly changed with the April addition of the colony I bought from Dadant, then the swarm that I was lucky enough to catch in Danville.
Since it had been a few weeks since I hived my swarm colony, I figured it was a great time to do a first inspection and check all the hives for brood production while I was at it.
First up, in the blue hive, the Danville swarm. This is one gentle hive of bees which I believe are Italian. In eighteen days, the bees had already drawn several frames (with a sprinkling of some bur comb too). As you can see, on this frame, they mixed new capped brood in with honey at the top. On the other side it was mostly brood. This has been one busy colony in the time they've been here, and I think I should be able to add a second deep box and frames pretty soon.
Next up, the colony from Dadant inhabits the yellow hive. I did add a second deep to this since they had drawn around seven frames of comb. As you can see, these caps are a little older and the hive is full of it, plus they're storing honey at the top of some of them. The queen in this colony is really good, Italian stock, and she went to work as soon as she was released and had a place to lay. This colony is increasing in numbers thanks to her majesty's hard work. They're a very gentle colony too.
Here is the green hive, one of the existing Carniolan colonies which was a split from last year. A couple of inspections back, in April, this hive was full of swarm cells and no eggs - which can indicate the preparations for swarming. Then a few weeks ago during a brief inspection, there were no eggs in either deep, but the swarm cells were disappearing and I could not find the marked queen. I also noticed it seemed the population was less than before, so that led me to believe this hive had already swarmed. But here's what I found on Friday. This hive is full of eggs, larvae and capped brood, so now I believe that a new queen is ruling this colony. This colony hardly required smoking so they're very gentle. I can't wait to see what these bees look like once they start hatching.
Last but not least, here is the orange hive which is another of Carniolan stock. As you can see, here is another fine example of a lot of brood. Back in April when I did a deep inspection of this hive, I could not find the marked queen, and that was after three intense inspections of all twenty frames. This colony had swarm and supersedure cells all over, a few of them opened at the bottoms, and I found a couple of new queens walking the frames. After giving it a couple of weeks, I opened this hive and found new eggs everywhere, so I knew one of the new queens had successfully returned from her mating flights. This Friday's inspection also indicated that most of the swarm cells had been torn down from the sides. I'm led to believe that this colony superseded the queen since the population doesn't seem to be much different than it was when the marked queen was here. I'm also interested to see what these bees will look like. And this colony was a gentle as lambs too.
After inspecting everything, I added a hive-top feeder to the blue hive, a second deep chamber and syrup for the yellow hive, then closed it all up. The orange hive will have a super of honey ready soon, and that may be all I get this year. While I haven't gotten a lot of honey from my bees, the peace I get from working with them is my satisfaction. Plus hearing the remarks from my neighbors that their gardens are doing the best ever since I brought bees here (and them giving me some of their surplus too) is a big payoff. In their own way, the bees are helping the neighbors and me too. I'm happy with that!
Until next time, fellow beekeepers!