Hive building slowly,.
I have a hive that is not building very rapidly and I am currently trying to decide what if anything I need to do. We have only had a couple of weeks of weather that even approaches a normal spring here, with the weather last week having a temperature swing from 38F to a record 97F in a 48 hour period. Unusual to say the least. With the abnormally cold spring, all my queens that had overwintered, briefly stopped laying in late April (early inspection towards end of April showed no capped brood in any of my hives). However, since then all but one has kicked into to high gear and now have multiple frames of brood (capped and uncapped). Today I did an inspection of my hives and the one overwintered hive I have a home (the rest are at a friend's 45 minutes from home), only has a small amount of brood. I found the queen and her laying pattern is good, but is only filling approximately a 1/4 to 1/3 of several frames. The number of bees in this hive also has fallen significantly since the last inspection of this hive about 2 weeks ago.
My questions are:
- Should I replace this queen? She is 2 years old this year but this hive was a great producer last year and I had been hoping for one or more splits from this hive this year.
- Due to the low bee population, is it possible that she is only laying to the degree that there is enough nurse and worker bees to keep the brood warm at night (this week the average temp at night has been the low 50's, but was low 40's last week and had the one night in the upper 30's a week ago).
- Should I take one or more frames of capped and/or uncapped brood from some of my other hives and put it into the hive and bring the number of nurse bees up and see what happens?
- I would have to get the frames from my other overwintered hives which are about 45 minutes away. What is the risk of moving the brood if the temp. is in the 70's when I am transporting them? If there aren't enough bees to keep the brood warm at night?
- Would I be better off moving brood and the bees on the frame with the brood?
- I thought about doing a combine with another hive (have 4 new packages at home, that arrived 2-3 weeks ago), but don't really think there are enough bees to make it worth while and I would really like to save this queen if possible, at least until I am able to rule out the low bee population as being the cause of the slow build up.
- Finally, it just occurred to me that perhaps I should be moving this hive to the other bee yard, where I have ready assess to other strong hives and brood, rather then bring the brood to them.
Any thoughts or input would be greatly appreciated.