Today I inspected Hive A - the newly combined hive. It's too early to check on the status of the queen (I left both queens in the hive when combining), so I was just checking this time to make sure the newspaper had been eaten through and that the hives were successfully combined. There was no newspaper at all in the hive. I removed the top two supers and did my best to place brood near brood and honey near honey. I made sure the two bottoms supers all contained full frames and moved empty frames to the top super. Currently, the top super is about half empty. All looks good.
Last week, I combined Hives A and C. Several days ago, I opened the hive to make sure the newspaper had been eaten through and the hives were integrated. Since then, however, I have noticed hundreds (maybe a thousand?) bees clustered beneath the screened bottom board UNDER the hive. This has been going on for several days. The temperatures are warm by Pacific Northwest standards: at, near, or just over 90 degrees during the day and very warm at night.
As I'm a bit worried about these two hives going into winter (insufficient bulk/food stores) I decided to combine them today using the newspaper method - placing a single sheet of newspaper between the hives. I put Hive C (one super) on top of Hive A (two supers) - with the sheet of newspaper in between. I did not remove one of the queens; I know it's a risk, but I left both queens and with luck, the bees will make the right choice. Stay tuned ...
Basically, this was just a reintegration of the bees that swarmed July 8, more than a month and a half ago ...
Opened up hives A and C (A being the hive that swarmed and C being the recipient of that swarm once captured.) Hive A is two deep supers - observed normal activity and brood in the cells. Hive C is one super, about half fully drawn with brood, capped brood and open nectar cells.
Since the hive split on July 8, I have tried not to disturb the bees much. Outside of a quick inspection on July 23, this is the first time I've looked inside. Even this is a very cursory inspection.
Hive A - This is the hive the swarm left, taking the queen with her. This hive has produced a new queen on its own. There are 2 supers on this hive - the top one is still empty but a frame or two in the center has been mostly drawn and had uncapped honey. I saw lots of bees in the bottom super but did not inspect, having verified the existence of a queen in the last inspection.
I inspected Hive A yesterday and saw eggs. So yes, the bees made their own queen. She is mated and is laying eggs. But last night, I thought about my suspicion that I may have set the swarming into motion with my frame swapping the month before (I took a full frame of brood and bees from the middle of the brood super and put it up into the middle of the empty top super to try to encourage the bees to start drawing foundation.) So this morning, I swapped them back. Not sure if THAT was a good idea, as the brood is gone and that frame now is nearly full of uncapped honey.
Today I inspected only Hive A - the hive that swarmed. Earlier in the week, I observed what I was sure was a mating swarm. That must have been what it was as today's inspection showed eggs in one of the frames! Looks like she's just starting out, as I only spotted them on one frame. I did not see the queen but I did not look for her that hard, either. Still no new comb building going on but one super is fully drawn.
It appears that Hive A just swarmed AGAIN - second time in eight days. But this was weird ... I heard the loud humming (a little after 4 p.m., with the summer sun still well up in the sky), so I went over to the hive and it was totally enveloped in flying bees. There were also bees bearding over the front and crawling up the front of the hive. There was a large swarm cloud of bees over the hive, and I shot lots of video. But they didn't go anywhere.
Today I added Boardman Feeders filled only with water to the front of all three hives. We are in the middle of a prolonged dry stretch and it is my hope that by making water immediately available, resources can be redirected to comb building, feeding brood and expanding the hive.
Today, I inspected hive C - the newly hived swarm hive (the swarm left from Hive A, was captured, and put into a new hive, C, eight days ago). Since this hive has a queen, I figured eight days elapsed since the swarm would be okay. The bees were put into a brand new hive (single deep super) with no drawn foundation ready for them. They are beginning to draw foundation over several frames and I saw eggs and uncapped larvae. looks like the queen is getting down to business in her new home.