The hive seemed small, light and the bees seemed particularly uninterested in our efforts to move the boxes. We strapped up the hive with no incident. We stapled (Jeff did) a screen wire cover for the entry.
We had fed these bees bee tea (one feeder full - about 2 quarts) going into winter and had thought they might not make it because they had almost no stores before we fed them. So when the hive seemed light, it was what we expected. We were thrilled that they had survived despite the winter and low stores.
We set these bees up on Monday night. Then on both Tuesday and Wednesday it was unseasonably cold in Atlanta. I did see a moment of activity on a warmish part of one of those days, but not much. I was thinking it was a small hive, so I wasn't surprised.
Today it was in the low 60s and I had a 2 hour break in the middle of the day, so I came home to look at the bees. OMG, there were thousands of bees orienting to this hive. I've never seen so many - thousands more than are in my strong hive.
I looked in the bottom box and saw brood, capped and uncapped and eggs in almost every empty cell.
I didn't see any swarm cells (yet) but I didn't go through every frame. These bees were just orienting and I didn't want to disturb their home completely. But that will be my next goal with both of the hives in my yard - to make a split or two from each of these strong hives.
When I got in the third box, again it was built out from one side to the other and included brood as well as honey. I decided to turn the feeder surround box into a hive box and checkerboarded the frames from box 3 to box 4.
What this means is that I took frames 2, 4, and 6 from box 3 and replaced them with empty foundationless frames. I put frames 2, 4 and 6 in those same positions in box 4 and put empty foundationless frames in box 4 in positions 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8. I didn't do 7 and 8 because there was a slight cross comb in box 3 on 7 and 8 and I didn't want to risk breaking the honey comb and tempting a robbing situation.
I turned my attention to the other hive in the yard, my Northlake swarm from last year. They were putting up nectar but had not used up the space in the box I added recently, so I left their hive as is.
I believe I can make a split from each of these hives next weekend or the next and will not change the honey production of the hive. I won't do an even split, but will take five frames and make a split or if I find swarm cells, I may put my new queen castle from Brushy Mountain to use.
To encourage my bees to get water in my yard, I put a round bread pan on top of my empty nuc box and floated wine corks in it. I had fantasies about little bees being like loggers and trying not to roll the cork as they went for water, but it was the best I could do on short notice!