The reason I started with the building of the hive is that today I took the hive up to the apiary to move the swarm into from the nuc box that it was in. The supers are still unpainted in my loft as I have a couple of spare supers ready anyway so there is no urgency to finish them. So from the above picture I took all the bits that are painted white up to the allotment, stopping off at my Dads to pick the keys up for the gate.
The Bad News!
The first hive I inspected when I arrived at the apiary was the first hive I bought. The last mention of this hive was in a previous post, that can be found here, in which I mentioned the multiple eggs in the cells, possibly indicating laying workers or a new Queen that hasn't learnt to lay properly; in the last weeks since then I have checked on them a couple of times and all the brood has been drone brood, when I went today there was no brood, no eggs and no sign of a Queen. What I think has happened is that I did have a Queen but due to bad weather she never managed to get mated and so started laying drone brood. After a couple of weeks of this I believe the workers have committed regicide (killed the Queen) due to her ineptness. The problem with this is that the Bees have no means to make a new Queen. Due to this I have taken a frame of eggs from one of my other hives and after shaking all the Bees off the frame, placed it into the hive. I'm hoping next time I check the hive I will see a Queen cell or 2 on the frame.
The Worse News and Good News!
When I opened the nuc hive I had a bit of a shock. Over the last few weeks I have been feeding the hive with sugar syrup but due to lack of space in the nucleus hive I was unable to put a frame feeder in so used a baggy feeder; this is basically a plastic bag with syrup in that has a cut in the top so the bees have access to the syrup. I think that the cut I made in the bag could have been too large and the syrup leaked all over the back of the hive because when I lifted the lid one end was covered in mould! The majority of it was on the hive rather than the frames so it wasn't as bad as could be, the Bees were still doing well, but the hive may be beyond repair as the mould was quite thick and wouldn't wipe off. The better news is that I have managed to move the frames over to the newly built hive successfully and put a frame feeder in full of syrup so hopefully no more mould! This hive is the one with Queen Bee-atrix in who is marked with a white dot so really easy to see. I easily spotted her when passing the frames over. I haven't taken a picture of the moldy hive but have taken a picture where you can see part of the frame that has been marked.
The Better News!
The last hive I checked is my first hive I bought from fragile-planet and also the one that the swarm came from. I haven't seen any evidence of having a Queen in any of the checks I've done since the swarm left the hive but I also have tried not to disturb the hive too much until today. When I opened the hive everything seemed good. The frame feeder was empty so I filled it with syrup and will keep feeding them until they are successfully storing their own honey. The first frame I checked was doing well, the Bees had drawn half the bare foundation out into comb and better still the next frame had eggs in it! This means I have a successful laying Queen somewhere as the eggs were nice and neat at the bottom of the cells in a good solid pattern. While inspecting this frame I noticed a rather large Bee on the side bar of the frame. I had to look twice and when it sunk in I realized I was looking at a Queen! I was delighted, I'd managed to find an unmarked Queen, albeit she was on a frame that wasn't fully occupied and when I first saw her she was on her own. I quickly got my marking cage and pen out one handed and then attempted to catch her in the cage. My first couple of attempts were fruitless but I eventually managed to trap her in there and gently press it down so she couldn't move around too much. I then carefully put a small white dot on her back (and a few dots of white on the wings of the workers around her) and left her for a few minutes for the paint to dry. I couldn't get a picture of her as I had a frame in one hand while in the other I was juggling the pen and hive tool. When I was happy the paint was dry I carefully replaced the frame and checked the last few frames. As I was putting the hive back together I noticed a Bumblebee had landed on a piece of equipment I had lying around.
I also took a picture of some borage that we are growing next to the apiary. Honeybees apparently go mad for borage. At the moment it looks rather unimpressive but when the blue flowers are opened up it will look great.