It's been a few weeks since my last post. Spring "appears" to be here and the bees are very active gathering nectar and pollen. Eleanor, a bee inspector with the Dept of Agriculture, came out and gave the apiary a clean bill of health, but noted that two hives were without evidence of queens. I checked back a couple of days later and placed a frame with young larva in one hive, but when I came to the other there was only a small number of bees remaining. This was a very sad time for me because that hive was "Old Grumpy", one of my two original hives. When I started beekeeping in 2010 I started with two hives, known as the West Hive and the East Hive. The West Hive had much more of an attitude than the other and as my number of hives grew and fondly referred to her as "Old Grumpy". Old Grumpy had an important role in the development of my apiary. The Queen was a great layer, and I routinely pulled frames of bees out of her to help start or build-up other hives. I also used her for bees when I created my starter hive for queen rearing a couple of years ago. So, goodbye old friend (whom I cussed more than once for the stings she gave me). I divided her two deep boxes and added them to two other hives.
I was up at the farm yesterday, and I can't believe the large quantities of drone cells!!! It's incredible how much crazy comb is between the boxes or going wild on fresh foundation. They must be up to something!!! I also set up a top-bar style swarm catcher with pheromone in it. We'll see what happens.