The hive looks, smells, and sounds like it is doing well and the bees are healthy, but as a new beekeeper, it also seems like they may be behind on drawing out comb.
The queen was spotted on the outside of frame 4, filling a nearly empty frame with eggs. All of the little ones from this frame have hatched. Speaking of hatching, I got to watch a new bee dig her way out of a capped brood cell as I held the frame!
Some frames were full of capped brood, others were full of larva, other had eggs neatly laid deep in each cell. Frame 4 was pretty empty except for the queen wandering around and her attendants close by. Good queen, she was working the frame that needed her attention most.
Frame 2 was nearly drawn out on one side. Frame 7 had one side drawn and a thin comb building up on the other side. With both sides of their internal ‘hive space’ being constructed, it would seem as if they have kicked things into gear now. There are more bees in the box now than when I brought the original 3 pound package of bees home.
I expected to see more than 70-80% of the first deep box drawn out by now, but they are only about 50% drawn at this time. The good news is that it looks like they decided to start drawing new comb and fast!
No supercedure/queen cells were found but there were a few drone cells scattered throughout the frames. I leave the drones alone. They are worthless to a honey producer, but the queen wanted to add a few drones, and she will just spend more time adding more drones if I kill these off. Some beekeepers kill the drone cells since drones eat honey, do not forage, and are unable to defend the hive since they have no stinger. Basically, they simply donate to the next generation.
When honeybees finish mating, the males leave their male-ness organ in the queen and the drone goes off to die. So… Drones do not do much for the colony, but they are very committed to what little they do. I think this is true, but I only read this once or twice and I have never watched bee porn.
I did not smoke the hive and only received minimal attitude from the girls. They generally seemed OK with my intrusion, except for one or two of them. It was sunny, 70F, and calm winds when I went into the hive after a week of cooler than usual temps and mostly cloudy or rainy days.
I sprayed 1:1 syrup on any foundation that was not drawn. I cannot say that this is why they started to draw out new comb, but it does not seem to be hurting at all. I really think the the population is growing quickly and the robber screen is preventing loss of bees due to defending their hive. I really love that robber screen!
In my estimation, the rapidly growing population is able to handle caring for more brood and this later date in the spring coincides with more sources of better nectar being available. I may have been estimating the colony growth based on info from beekeepers further south than my location. The robber bees may have been fighting my original girls too much and the time from the first egg being laid until it hatched may have set a limit on the comb the bees could manage.