I don't really like to go into the hive when it's raining, since the bees get grumpy about getting exposed to bad weather. So I just held off for four days. I'd been hoping to do the inspection on Wednesday, but it wasn't good and sunny until Sunday morning.
So I skipped church, and went into the hive in mid-morning, when the sun was full on, and a lot of the field workers were out. I prepped with a sugar water spray bottle, my suit, and head gear, and just went right in.
They were all over the bottom box. Building all the way out into the outer frames. It was good to see. I carefully lifted a center frame, and there wasn't that much weight to it. Not a lot of honey, but when I got it out and looked, more than half of both sides of it were capped brood. So the queen was busy and the workers were all over it, feeding the young. I could see larvae in the backs of the dark cells, pretty easily, and they looked like they were doing fine. The queen wasn't on that frame, so I put it in a box in the shade, and then started going through the other frames.
There was a ton of brood, not a lot of honey, but then they were probably using it quickly to get the newly hatched to grow and develop. The pollen patties I had put into the box were getting used really quickly. That is all to the good, as the sooner there are more workers getting born, the sooner they will be able to get more nectar and get the hive to grow.
The interesting thing for me was that they'd built all the way to the outside frames already... and she was laying eggs all the way out to the outside frames. The workers were storing nectar and pollen throughout, and getting all the way to the outside frames. So it was time to put on a second deep, already. It makes sure that they feel like they have plenty of room, and the weather lately has been wet enough that the local flowers and grasses are going crazy.
So I put the box back together, went with John into the garage and the two of us put together another eight frames with foundation and put them into one of the boxes. Then I opened things back up, rescued a worker that had gotten squished into the pollen patties, and she was fine. That was good. I then put the second deep box on top of the first, and then added top back on and the telescoping lid. The weather for the next ten days is going to be a mix of rain and sun. Not too hot and not too cold, so I left the medium opening in, and didn't worry too much about venting the top, yet. Time enough for that then the temps get up into the 90's.
One of the really encouraging things was finding that in the bottom box that the bees hadn't built any crazy wax structures. I'd actually spaced the frames well enough that they hadn't found it necessary to bridge any gaps. So after I placed the top box on the bottom one, I took my gloves off in order to re-gap them so that they were as even as I really wanted them.
I can only hope that they keep that up.
After they fill the second deep, I'll be able to add a queen excluder and the supers; but I'll give them the time and the space to do all the building that they want. It's been nearly four weeks since I put them in, and six weeks is when the first wave of the new bees should be coming out of the box. That will be soon after we're back from our trip, and I'm half hoping that I can move them away from the part of the yard with the play structure.
John had originally figured that we'd put the hive here because our roof had to get redone, and the solar panels that were living just above the old location for my hive. So to keep the bees out of the workers' way, we'd put it where it is. Moving them is going to be interesting as there's a saying that you can move a hive two feet or ten miles, because the bees orient around the location of their hive, and if it's moved just two feet, they can easily find it again, but if it's more than that, these tiny creature of utmost habit seem to have a really hard time. They just go out and try to come back to where the hive used to be.
There are tricks to it. So we'll be trying them when we get back and it's warm enough for the workers to survive even if they don't find the hive immediately. I am going to have to get them to reorient when they go out of the hive, and do a little management of the ones that go back to the old site anyway for a day or two, I think.
In the meantime, though, they'll get to just stay in peace while we go off on our trip.