On March 8, 2014, I was able to complete my first meaningful hive inspections since October 2013. That’s nearly 5 months since I’d done anything more than observe out-of-hive activity or quick peaks inside.
All three hives appear to be strong in numbers at this point. I’m using all medium boxes and hives 1 and 2 had lots of bees on all 10 frames in the second brood box. Looking up from below through the screened bottom boards I could see that the bottom brood box also had lots of bees on all the frames.
Despite admonitions from experienced beekeepers, I’d left an empty third box of frames on my two original hives. Hive 1 (the Italian queen hive) had bees on those frames in October and a bit of stored honey there, so I just left it when I closed up the hives for the winter. Hive 2, the hive with a hybrid queen that had swarmed in September, also had a frame or two in the third box with capped honey, so I left it for them.
This is my Italian queen hive. They’d so tightly propolized the third box to the second that I could not get them separated. So I just removed the frames to have a look at the second brood box.
At this point, Hive 2 has been busy building out more comb on the frames in the third box. The Italians had done very little to build out more comb in the third box.
My third hive inspection was limited to removing the inner cover and scraping off some extra comb they’d built out between the frames and the top of the inner cover.
I had place an Imrie shim upper-entrance over the second medium box to allow space for a grease and sugar patty for some supplemental winter feeding. That extra space had allowed them to build out a lot of comb since I placed the grease patties on top of the frames in late January.
Rather than waste the honey and pollen they’d stored in this comb, I placed it in a container on top of the inner cover and left them to it. Hoping they won’t start building comb in the feeder box, but I’ll be back in a week to check on that and remove what I hope will be clean wax.
That said, the upper brood box of the swarm hive was full of bees. I didn’t look up from below the screened bottom board to check on numbers in the lower brood box.
I have lots more pics, but on a deadline for a project so I’ll update this inspection post later in the week.