Today I checked it out.
The top box on the blue hive has two frames of comb that I moved into it for a ladder, but nothing else. The box below it, though, is filled with capped and uncapped honey. The last time I looked, the only honey was capped. The bees are bringing in something - I don't know what it is, but all of my midtown hives are bringing in nectar - and there are frames being filled. The frame below is from the blue hive; the next photo is a frame from the yellow hive.
At this time of year, unless I have reason to be concerned, I am only looking in the hive to see:
- What is the state of their stores? Are they eating honey or putting it in the comb?
- Is there a queenless roar, or any other reason to suspect queen problems?
Otherwise I just shut them back up. The only maneuver I did was to add bottle caps to the tops of the inner covers to increase ventilation. Wonder if that will stop the washboarding?
Then I returned home to check on SOS1 - this hive has been hard to get going. We made a split from Colony Square much earlier in the year and because the bees were so mean, we named it SOS (Spawn of Satan 1). These bees seemed unable to make a good queen. Their first queen was poorly mated; their second queen while mated OK was a poor layer and slow to build up. For all I know they even made a third queen.
Last Thursday I went through the hive. I didn't see the queen (which I should have paid better attention to) and I noticed that the numbers were still way down. I added two frames of brood and eggs from my strongest hive at my house to help them increase their numbers. I thought if they hadn't done any better, this week I would combine them with SOS 2 right next to them.
So I opened the hive - no bees. There were about 30 bees on the inside of the top cover. I think they were newly emerged bees from the frames I gave the hive last week. There were no more bees, no honey, no nothing in the hive. There were remnants of eggs and brood on the two frames I added last week. The bees were gone and the wax moth larvae were already in the bottom box.
I shook the 30 bees onto the inner cover of SOS2.
I've now lost four hives - and all have absconded. The only good news is that all of them were free bees - well almost all of them. The first hive to go was my top bar hive which was a swarm collected in Decatur.
The second to go was my hive in Rabun County. That hive was a purchased package from Don in Lula in 2011, but I had assumed they wouldn't make it through the winter and had purchased two packages to replace the two Rabun hives. Then I found to my joy that one dead hive had a swarm move in (and it was thriving last time I was up there) and the other hive was doing well up until the beginning of June. I didn't go through it to find out why they had dwindled. There were still bees in that hive, but I don't think they had a queen and the SHB had taken over.
Last week just before adding a new box and only a week after seeing the queen, my Little Kitten swarm absconded. They left nothing behind.
And then today I lost SOS 1. I feel deeply disheartened. The only saving grace is that most of them were free bees.