First Colony Check of the Season
With nature signs a good three weeks earlier than usual, I decided to peek into my bee hives to see what my girls were doing. I didn't break the propolis seals they had installed; I just went in through the top, under the feeding shims, to see how far along they were in the top box.
Usually this time of year, the cluster is moving down from the top box and expanding quickly as the queen bee increases her egg-laying. When I pulled out my first frame, it was packed with honey, only to be followed by a second frame full of baby bees, or brood, almost solid across the frame. Over the top of the frame, the rainbow of honey on both sides.
There were two small hive beetles on each frame, which I killed as I set the frames on the side of the hive.
Nowhere in the box was there room for the queen to lay so I moved a couple of honey frames into a new super on top; gave the bees two empty frames on either side of where they currently are and added another floor to the top of the hive. I didn't break up the brood, I kept those frames just the way I found them.
No guarantee that this will prevent them from swarming but after the next cold spell forecast for mid-March, I should be able to unseal the hive and check under the frames for queen cells, a sure sign of swarm preparations.
I will save those cells. I want to split a couple of these colonies so having extra queens will come in handy but the queens need drones to mate.
I found drone brood but no drones yet so it's still early for swarm season. New queens need to breed with drones to be able to successfully establish themselves with a colony,
Overall, these frames full of brood look like what my colonies used to look like in April. These girls are definitely 2-3 weeks ahead of their previous year's schedule.