Beginning this spring we decided to switch our brood frames to the Mann Lake small cell plastic frames.
Starting with two hives, #1 was booming, so we put 4 frames of brood into a new box, filled the rest of the box with the small cell, add new queen and moved away. All went well in the queen acceptance, etc. We added another box of small cell foundation when we brought them back home.
The original hive (#1)we replaced the missing frames with the SC.
Third hive we requeened as they were not doing well and added a couple frames of SC.
During all of this we were feeding some, but probably not enough.
Now, it's June 30th, and our split is refusing to work all but a couple frames of the SC. I moved the brood nest to the side and inserted a SC frame into the middle of it about a month ago and they have drawn comb on a spot about softball sized, nothing in it. They are hardly doing anything in the upper brood box. They have a honey super on, and it has some in it, but not much.
#1 is ignoring completely the SC frames and has one honey super full and poking around in another. Today in frustration, I took the SC back out (4 frames) and gave them back full sized drawn frames.
#3 is ignoring the SC, which in this hive was one frame and on the very edge, so I see why they are ignoring it. But they have virtually no stores of honey made. So I know the queen was accepted, the bees are obviously her offspring and much calmer, but don't know what's going on with this one.
At this point I'm afraid they're going to be weak hives going into winter. I'm more interested in them living through the winter than I am honey production. Is my best thought to take the honey supers off, feed heavy and hope to finish the building work this fall that should have been done in the spring or what?
This is only our second year with bees, so any advice is welcome.