Since we want to avoid any chance of the hives swarming this year, we are splitting the hive early.
Hive #1 is thriving and the new frames of comb are covered with capped brood already. Looking good and only a few more frames to build out and we will need to add another box.
Here is a photo of one brand new frame of foundationless comb filled with capped brood waiting to emerge. You can see worker brood on most of the frame, some capped honey in the top corners, and drone comb along the bottom and the bottom corners – it is raised up because the drones are larger and need more room (click on the photo to see a larger version).
Hive #2 is not doing so well. The queen is weak and barely moving today, and there was some very clear piping coming from the hive. This is the first time we have seen this queen since we installed the hives two weeks ago.
Although no virgin queens were visible, there were at least half a dozen capped queen cells and one that had already emerged. It is beyond doubt that the bees have decided that their queen is not strong enough and they are in the process of replacing her. Luckily the weather looks to be good for the new queen’s mating flight(s).
The new queen will likely kill the old queen and any other new queens that emerge. She should start mating flights within a week and once she is mated she will start laying eggs within a few days.
Here is a photo showing some queen cells (they look kind of like peanuts) and the one that has already emerged (a worker is cleaning it out right now – large cell on the left, click on the photo to see a larger version).
Both hives have settled down nicely. Today we went and had a quick peek and here is what we found:
Hive #1 has started building out four of the new empty frames in the hive. Three of them are more than half full of new comb already and these bees have taken all of the syrup we added a week ago.
Hive #2 is not taking the sugar syrup so we poured it into the feeder on hive #1. They look like they are doing well but have not started to build out the new frames in the upper deep box at all.