Time to Split!
What We Expected
It had been a couple weeks since we'd done a thorough inspection of the Green and Wood Hives. We expected to open them up and see them booming with brood as well as getting busy on the honey frames.
For the Wood Hive, we expected to see some queenright signs, ideally eggs of the new queen.
What We Saw
The Wood Hive has eggs! There aren't many, but it's clearly a sign that they've made a queen and she's mated. Judging by the laying, it looks like she may have only started in the last 2-3 days.
The Green Hive was doing well with great brood patterns across the top and bottom brood boxes.
The Witch Hive had a similar presentation, though we saw a handful of developed queen cells, full capped (including one with a larvae inside), indicating either their supercedure or swarming. Given that the queen was present and laying, it appeared to be more of a swarming behavior, especially since there was a cluster of drones that had been laid as well.
Additionally, the unsupported foundation of the honey frames softened and fell out of their structures, causing a little bit of a mess in the supers that the bees would not be able to work with.
What We Did
We anticipated using the vacant boxes for catching a swarm, but instead we opted for splitting the Witch Hive to pre-empt any swarming activity. We gave them the frame that contained the multiple queen cells as well as some open and closed brood, honey, and pollen stores, creating a 10-frame swarm colony.
For the Wood Hive, we borrowed many of the unused frames of the top brood box to outfit the new Swarm Hive, seeing as how they were not utilizing those frames for the time being.
We removed almost all of the honey frame foundations with the exception of any that were sitting upright and had been propolised securely.
What We’ll Do
Given there was a lot of restructuring, we'll make another visit in the next couple days to outfit the Wood Hive with more frames, as well as prepare them for their installation of the Flow Hive.
For the Swarm Hive, we'll progressively give them frames of closed brood to keep their numbers up as their emerging queen goes through the same process that the Wood Hive just completed.
For the Witch Hive, having just been split, they'll need some time to restore their numbers, so we'll hold off on anything invasive for a few weeks, but continue to check for any afterswarm behavior.
For the Green Hive, they're doing very well. So well, we're going to experiment with giving them a third deep box so that the queen can continue to pump out fresh eggs and become an absolute brood and honey factory!