My hard-working helper and photographer was available over the weekend to help do deep inspections of hives 3 and 4 and the weather was nice. I haven’t checked the status of the bottom deep boxes since last summer. They were happy making honey and had lots of bees, so there was no need. But since spring is finally, joyously here I need to make sure they have plenty of space for brood and new honey and hopefully prevent the urge to swarm.
Many beekeepers believe the bottom box will always be empty in spring because the bees have moved up. I find that to be true sometimes, but hives 3 and 4 are examples of it not being true. They both had brood in the bottom and top deep boxes. However, I still needed to put most of the empty frames in the top. Since I had most of the excess honey from hive 3 several weeks ago, the honey super was empty, but they are building pretty new comb in it.
The top box had several frames of brood and honey. When I opened the hive, many bees immediately flew out, but instead of buzzing around me, they went straight for the camera. At the end of the inspections, there were several stings in the rubber around the eyepiece.
I have new gloves from BetterBee. I was using goatskin gloves before, but they only last about a year before they wear through. Gloves with a hole in the finger are not very effective. The goatskin was also pretty thin, so if a bee worked hard enough, she could get her stinger through. My new gloves are cowhide and no stings are getting through, but I still have the dexterity I had with the goatskin.
I moved the majority of the brood and a couple of frames of honey to what would become the bottom box and moved two frames of brood, two frames of honey, and the rest of the empty frames to the top. The girls were more than a little indignant over the intrusion. I didn’t see the queen, but as long as there is new larva, I know she’s still there.
In about 14 days, I’ll go into the hive again and pull one or two frames of brood to put in one of my smaller hives to give them a boost for spring. It will also give this hive more space to keep working. Mid-April, I have new queens coming from R Weaver Apiary. Then I’ll be able to split my two big hives and put a new queen in one of the grumpy hives. I’m also going to try to raise a new queen from hive 5 in the hopes that she will produce a hive with a sweet, calm demeanor, just like her mother.