Well, it has now been approximately four weeks since I hived my 3 lb packages. Just for information, I have 3 italian, 2 cordovan, and one carniolan queen.
The italians have been remarkably consistent. During my last inspection (July 2), each of the Italian hives had 10 full frames (oops - waited a little too long), so I went ahead and added the second brood chamber to two of the hives and a honey super on top of the remaining hive.
The Cordovans have been running slightly behind the Italians. But they had 9 frames and were working the last one as well. I went ahead and put a second brood chamber on one hive and a honey super on the other.
The Carniolan is interesting. They seem to be the most volatile hive. For example, I dropped one corner of the inner lid as I was putting it on and the bees flew straight up into my face (no equipment on during this trip since the bees have been so gentle to work). While I didn't get stung - it was scary. They also seem to buzz me when I am approaching at a greater distance than the other hives. The Cordovans never seem to show any interest in me - the Italians are somewhere between these two extremes.
My question is this. The Carniolans were keeping up with the Italians at first until they hit five frames (about two weeks ago - though it may not have been that long). Since the Carniolans have hit five frames, they have stopped doing any work. Should I be concerned about this? Since the hive is so small, I went ahead and looked for capped brood / larvae - both were present. So I obviously still have a queen. As far as the number of bees in each hive, I am rather new at this and it is difficult to estimate. But they seem to be about as populous as the Italians until the past week. The Italians and Cordovans have had a real explosion in numbers - when I peek in most of the frames are covered with bees and there are a lot hanging out on the inner cover. The Carniolans have definitely expanded their population from what was placed in the hive as a package - but they are definitely lagging at this point.
I probably shouldn't have done this - but I went ahead and dropped a second brood chamber on just to see what they would do. They are building like crazy directly above the five frames where they have their brood nest. It has only been a day at this point (just spot checked them tonight) since I added the brood chamber to this hive - but they have taken to it quite well.
Could there be something wrong with the five frames which has tended to keep the bees away from them? Is this even possible? One other difference - all of my brood chambers have black plastic (including the second brood chamber that I added to this hive) except this one. This particular brood chamber has white frames.
The only other thing that I have in my notes is that the Carniolan package had a LOT more dead bees in it when it arrived. The other five packages had about a single layer of bees across the bottom of the package - this particular one had approximately 1/2" of dead bees in it.
So - is it me being impatient with one hive that is doing relatively poorly (not as good as the Italians)? Should I replace the queen as she could be a slow layer? Could the slow buildup be because the package started out weaker than the others? Should I kick myself for having bought white plastic for the brood chamber? Could it be a cumulative effect of each of these things?
I have to admit - it has been great watching the bees build their nest, etc. over the past month. And the baby bees that are now appearing around the front entrance are nearly comical to watch as they take their initial flights. I even saw one fly head first into the hive body - only to get up and try again.