Luckily, the rain stopped in time for us not to need the umbrella brought by one of our better prepared beekeepers. By the end of the visit there was a bit of bright sky breaking through the clouds. The goal to inspect colonies, remove spent Formic Pro™ strips, and make some necessary adjustments was met.
We were able to perform two alcohol mite wash tests to verify if what we saw on the brood frames would be matched with higher than desired mite counts. Interestingly both tests did not reveal the expected high counts. The BroodMinder™ equipped hive had four or five total mites in the test container. One or two frames had opened brood cells in the spotty pattern that normally indicates mite issues. Larva pulled from several cells did not have visible mites attached. We decided to check again on our next visit.
On Tuesday of this week, I was mowing the apiary and captured a swarm into an eight-frame, single-super hive. The eight frames were foundation because that was what I had with me. When we checked today, we found several well drawn frames, the queen, and eggs in the drawn comb. It was a completely unexpected but very nice surprise!
The other mite-sampled colony had reasonable bee coverage with about six opened swarm cells on one of the frames. There was no evidence of a queen, and this had been noted in the record from the May 28th visit. After a discussion of options to remedy what appeared to be a colony that had become queenless, we decided to use the swarm from Tuesday and combine it into the colony hoping to resolve the queen issue. This broodless colony was five supers with the top two supers all with capped honey. Because adding the super from the swarm colony would have put the queen and her eggs above two supers of capped honey, we shook the bees from the capped honey frames and moved the honey supers onto two other colonies that were still only four supers. After this adjustment, we had a three-super colony with a good number of bees. A sheet of newspaper was spread on top of the third super and the single super from the swarm was placed over it. Currently the colony is four supers with newspaper between super three and four. The top (fourth) super has a queen and eggs in several frames of newly drawn comb. I will probably drop by and add a two-frame feeder to the top super and start feeding this colony because we moved most of the honey stores.
All other colonies were checked and found to be in various conditions. Over the next several visits, we will likely be using nucs as needed to correct queen issues. One colony was found to be queen right after having been recorded with no eggs or open brood at our last visit.