I did another hive inspection this morning, the second of the season. I knew with the good weather that the hives would build up well.
When I checked the first hives, I was impressed!
I had put on a super with no queen excluder two weeks ago although they didn't need it yet. They were busy drawing and filling the middle frames of the super already. When I took off the box of supers, I could see that they have drawn lots of extra comb. You can see this in the photo above.
They have gone from two frames of capped brood to seven frames. They have built up plenty of stores and would be soon needing another super or brood box added.
This frame has a good brood pattern, capped brood, larvae and eggs in the centre, and pollen and open cells of honey at the edges.
These are frames of honey stores. yum!
I decided that I would make a split from this hive. They are a nice tempered hive and I had wanted to start splits early in the season to allow for a modest honey crop later.
I took two frames of capped brood with the queen on one of these. She was very easy to find as she is marked. I also took two frames of stores and 1 frame of drawn comb. This made up the 5 frame nuc. The hive that I took the nuc from will realise that they have no queen within 24 hrs. They will start building queen cells using eggs that are present within the hive. These eggs need to be aged 1-3 days old to be suitable.
My only worry is that there isn't enough drones for the virgin queens to mate well with. There is small amounts of drone comb in both hives, but it might not be enough. I am doubtful that there are many local honey bees in our area. Although if the weather remains good, this should not be too much of a problem!
This is the entrance to the nuc, I have it positioned in the orchard. I had intended to move the nuc away to my sisters farm until it got established. The foraging bees are very likely to fly back into the old hive and leave the nuc, but it has plenty of stores and house bees until the house bees start to forage. I put grass at the entrance in the hope that foraging bees with reorientate themselves to the nuc.
I want the nuc with the queen near as I will be removing frames of capped brood frequently to help out the second hive. This hive is weak and in trouble. A few frames of capped brood now should see it build up early to produce a honey crop and establish before winter. Small populations of bees never have a chance to survive winter. It has a good queen from last year but it has an ageing and small population of bees. The queen is very limited is the amount of eggs she can lay as there isn't the bees to feed the larvae or keep the brood warm. I have no doubt that this hive will eventually build up, but two frames of capped brood now that require no feeding, will give them a great start. They have three brood boxes at the moment which is not helping. Bees seem to build up better in small spaces. If I had a spare nuc today I would have moved them into that. I will remove the two extra brood boxes off when I check for queen cells in hive 1 tomorrow evening.