Man is it hard to use the laptop when you also have a lapcat! Harder still when he wants you to use your fingers to pet him instead of typing on the keyboard.
It's hard to believe I left the bees alone for an entire week, but apparently I did as the last post was a week ago. Today I made a gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup and then Zaga and I suited up and headed out to wrangle bees. What a difference this week! Thanks to John Swann and his consultation from Wicked Bee Apiary last week, I felt much more confident about what I was looking at (and for) in the hives today. We found all four queens--even though the yellow dot was completely chewed off of one of them. I am sure the dot-less queen is one of our original girls and not a new queen who superseded ours as she has a clipped wing, and all my queens were marked and clipped. I still didn't manage to spot eggs in the cells (I really need to take a pair of reading glasses), but saw lots and lots of larvae and a ton of new capped brood. The capped brood we got with the nucs had a much darker brown wax. The caps on the new brood cells are almost as light as the caps on the new honey.
So examining your hives... It doesn't matter how many seminars and club meetings you attend, how many slideshows you watch, or how many books you read. Opening your first hive is like having your first kid: Everything you thought you knew completely flees your mind when faced with the immediate visceral reality of YOURS. I knew of the visual difference between capped brood and capped honey. I had seen pictures. It took John patiently pointing everything out to me in my own hives for me to really get it. Today Zaga and I didn't even take out all the frames from the hives. Once we found the queens we did a quick look down the sides of the remaining frames to see how drawn out they were, and then we closed up the hives. I don't know if I squished fewer bees today than in previous visits, but I felt much better about reinserting the frames. Putting the inner cover back on was a snap using John's method of setting it down perpendicular to how it was supposed to go and then turning it in place till it was squared up.
All the hives are looking really good, and the Flow--which only has eight frames as opposed to the ten frame capacity of the rest--is almost at 90%. When John was here we took the feeder out of that hive (which houses the nuc that was established already when I brought it home) so there are eight frames in it and only a couple haven't been built out yet. When it gets to 90% I have to decide whether to put another brood box on it or go ahead and move to the Flow super. I need to find some of the other Flow folk around here to see what they do. It's a good resource to be able to see what the Aussies are doing with their Flows, but as they are the first to say, there's no substitute for getting advice from your local beekeepers.
Finally, I ordered external feeders, an 8-frame brood box for the Flow (just in case I want to use it rather than the Flow super), and a bunch of shallow frames, and they arrived last week. Tomorrow I'll open the box and set them up. Thank heaven I didn't order wax frames as the box has been on the porch in 90 degree heat for a few days now. John was supposed to deliver my TopBar hive over the weekend so I could paint it. Better drop him a note as he is also supposed to delivering my TopBar nuc this week and I need to have the hive painted (outside only) before I put the bees in it. Zaga's nuc (or nucs--she might end up with two too) will come this week or next. We are really rocking the apiary--more bees!!!