On Sunday March 29th all the training yard hives were moved into their spring configuration. The morning cloud cover cleared, and temperature was in the mid 70⁰ F. Wind was very light. Perfect for a March bee day. Dandelion are blooming in large numbers.
The hives were about half 5-frame, three super “nuc” hives that were overwintered. They had been started around mid-July of last year with purchased queens. The other hives were 8 frame equipment except for two 10 frame hives. One 10-frame is the BroodMinder™ equipped hive. Kind of a mixed bag but in a training yard, having a mix of hive sizes can be a plus although it does add an unnecessary level of complexity. The use of all medium frames is the one consistent feature.
All the over wintered 5-frame hives were moved into 8-frame equipment, 3 supers high. Existing 8-frame hives were increased to at least 4 supers using foundation some of which was added into the outside of the brood area of the overwintered configuration. Basically 2 – 3 frames of foundation added to each of the lower supers and the existing frames moved to the fourth super. The believed is that the brood area was crowded, and foundation added space. The supers were not reversed because brood was found in all supers. It is likely that a 4th or 5th super will be added in several weeks.
The existing 10-frame hives were treated in a similar process adding frames of foundation to give space in the brood area. It was decided that the 10-frame hives should have an additional super of comb. The 10-frame hives are now 5 supers in total and have solid bee cover.
In the process, one hive was found to have several capped (or ripe) queen cells located on the bottom of a frame. Because one can never have too many bees, this frame and additional frames of bees, brood, pollen and nectar were move into the five-frame equipment. The extra frames were sourced from several hives with foundation used to back fill. Drones appear to be in good supply. We shall see.
The hives are packed with bees and queen cups are plentiful. Swarming urges appear to be well under way. Because purchased queens are still not confirmed, it was decided to monitor the hives closely for ripe swarm cells and when found, make splits with them. So that equipment will be available when swarm cells are found, two 5-frame hives and a queen castle were setup. This is in addition to the two swarm boxes previously installed.
Depending on the various circumstances with Corona virus restrictions and queen availability, nuc production training might be scheduled for July, producing nucs that will be overwintered. By July, hopefully group restrictions will be lifted, and training can continue.