I stopped putting foundation in my hives a while ago (see Frames without foundation). Foundation seems unnecessary to the low intervention bee keeper. Its principal benefit is to make extraction and inspection easier. I outlined in the article how shallow frames can be extracted without wired foundation. Inspection is also much the same. You just have to be slower and more gentle.
I took the roof off Hive E today. This is the late swarm from 2016 which is housed in a small derelict greenhouse.
I had put an insulating box between the brood box and the roof. I'd seen ants going up and down the hive. What I hadn't expected was that the ants had set up a nest in the insulated roof. There were lots of black ants, some eggs and a few immature grubs.
I can see now that the insulated roof would be ideal for an ant nest. Defensible; warm, well ventilated and with an immense food store nearby.
I visited the out-apiary today and opened the 3 hives there. There is evidence of brood, new comb and stores in all of them. There's evidence of a nectar flow, which isn't much of a surprise given that Oxford is swathed in spring blossoms.
Hive B is still relatively small but ticking along nicely. There are plenty of stores and reasonable coverage of brood. I haven't added space because there are empty frames in the brood area.