It has been an interesting May to date. This is our second year of bee learning, and what a year it has been.
A brief history:
Prior to May 1, we had three hive stands, each with two, ten frame deeps. We really fed them well last fall, so they all made it through the winter. One of the three required some emergency feeding as we came out of winter.
All three hives had good laying queens upon inspection in early March.
Our climate was unusually warm in April and the queens really filled their brood chamber. Knowing that the bees would need room to expand, we put the honey supers on early. They were all new supers with new frames and foundation. The bees didn't find much interest in utilizing the new space. I had theorized that they did not want to be bothered with getting through the queen excluder.
May 1 - Our first swarm event transpired. This was a first experience for us and what a sight to behold. The swarm came to rest in a pine tree, 55 feet off the ground. My heart sank as I thought I had just lost a good portion of one hive. My determination to be successful kicked in and I ascended the tree and recaptured what turned out to be about an 8# swarm. We successfully transferred them to a new deep body, with new frames, and had a big smile for the success in taming mother nature.
Had I known what was in store...
Since May 1, we have had five more swarms. Some of the swarms were witnessed, and some were not. The witnessed swarms were an easy indication of which hive the swarm was from.
None of the swarms were as large as the first, and the size of each swarm continued to get smaller. We were able to successfully recapture all but one of the remaining five swarms. The second swarm was placed in a second deep, that was placed on top of the first swarm deep, with a newspaper split.
The third swarm was placed in a new deep, on a new hive stand. The fourth swarm was added to a second deep, and the newspaper split was used again.
We used a Nuc box to hold the sixth swarm, and after a couple of days, added to the fourth swarm deep.
So now we have gone from three hives, to five. The original three are double deeps, with double, nine frame, medium supers. The 4th and 5th hive s are double deeps, with room to grow into the new frames and foundation.
So for the inspection report.
I have seen queens in the original three hives, but no eggs. I would think the queens I saw were all virgins.
I have also seen queens in the 4th and 5th hive.
On May 17 I found a queen and some eggs in the 4th hive. The egg pattern was poor and there were not very many of them, but I did find eggs on at least two frames. In an attempt to offer support to at least one of the original hives, the one that swarmed first, I added one of the frames with eggs on it from the 4th hive. My thought was to give them an eggs to raise a queen, if that hive was in need of one.
There is a great deal to describe in a brief overview. With all the swarming that occurred, I am not sure of which hives have queens and which ones do not. All I can say for certain, as of May 17, is that only the 4th hive had at least some eggs.
There is still some capped brood in the 2nd and 3rd hives, and all of the original hives still have a good population of bees. The 3rd hive is, without a doubt, the most populated.
My concern and question at this point is do I just let Mother nature do her thing and not worry about the situation of the queens, or do I intervene yet again?
Should I acquire a purchased queen and introduce her?
If yes... I am open to suggestions for a source for good quality queens, suited to the North East environment of Connecticut.
Would this further confuse things for the bees?
My thought is to get a good quality queen, hopefully with low swarming traits, and good hygienic behavoir, and add her one of the original hives?
One of my concerns with using queens that may be there now, is there traits are unknown, and all of them would have the swarming trait.