There are some patterns and similarities that emerge from watching a group of colonies in an apiary. Here are some from my out-apiary:
Hive E is very cross. I think that it may be low on stores. I tried to take the lid off to feed it. They went for me in full attack mode. Buzzng my head and my hands. My legs had at least a dozen bees attached, all trying to sting me.
The National Bee Unit issues alerts. I received an alert today (15th June) about starvation. I received one last year on 30th June. It's getting to be a habit.
I've been anticipating a nectar flow from the Lime trees next to my out apiary but it now looks like that won't happen. I visited the hives this evening and it looks pretty certain that the two newly established colonies (Hives F and G) have very low stores.
I looked into the out-apiary hives yesterday. I found about 20 frames of honey which can be harvested. I also found wonky comb in the super on top of Hive E.
I really want the comb to be built in a regular pattern. The comb from the new swarms in Hives F and G are beautifully straight and regular. This is the comb within the Commercial brood bodies. Large, flat sheets of comb which is at least as good as you'd get with foundation.
I had a look at the hive floors in the out-apiary this morning. In the order which I looked at them:
Hive G: lots more comb built. Small numbers of dropped Varroa.
Hive F: lots more comb built. Large numbers of dropped Varroa.
Hive D: lots of activity - evidence suggesting a large number of emerged brood. Large numbers of dropped Varroa.
Hive E: quieter than C and D. Some evidence of brood emerging
Hive C: lots of activity - evidence suggesting a large number of emerged brood. Relatively small numbers of dropped Varroa.
I went to the visit the bees at my out-apiary this morning. I took the lids off the hives but left the brood area alone (except for Hive F) because the air temperature was cool. Everything was finished by 0630.
A side effect of looking at hives in the early morning is that all their flying bees are still in the hive. These are the bees which are most likely to defend the colony. As a result the bees seemed noticeably more angry when I opened the hives.
All the hives have plenty of space, with the possible exception of E.
I opened all the hives today to look inside. Apart from the issues caused by queen exclusion, everything seems to be going well.
Hive G is building comb and looks healthy.
Hive F is building comb but still dropping lots of Varroa.
Hives C, D and E have space and show evidence of recent comb building.
They're all going well. I still see no evidence that any of these colonies swarmed to produce Hive G. I assume that it was a coincidence. That means that it has not come from an untreated colony.
Last night I moved Hive E to my out-apiary and returned Hive B to my home. The move went well with no problems.
Hive E contains the feral swarm from Barton caught at the very start of August 2016. It built up strongly before Autumn and is now a vigorous colony. I wanted it to be in central Oxford where its' strength is a match for the position - lots of forage but a big climb to the roof. I wanted Hive B to be in my garden where it can quietly tick along without bothering family or neighbours.
There are dangers in moving an occupied hive:
Hive E was populated from a feral swarm at the very start of August 2016. Eight months have elapsed since they were moved from the Nucleus hive into a National brood body. Yesterday I opened up.
The purpose of the inspection was two-fold: to check the condition of the colony and to reconfigure the hive.
I put the a swarm from Helen into Hive F on the evening of 2nd May. I had a look at the entrance and the removable hive floor this morning.
The colony appears to be settling in well, despite the colder May weather. There is shed wax on the removable hive floor; there are bees coming and going. It appears that they've been building comb and orienting themselves to their new area. I didn't look for pollen, but I wouldn't expect to see it this soon anyway.