Hives record updated.
Well, this season's cavalcade of beekeeping comedy continues. Boudicca is definitely queenless, and even broodless. Dido (the little nuc I set up a matter of weeks ago) already has a queen cell. I removed this frame and put it in Boudicca. Workers from any resultant queen (if she lays) will not be foraging till late August (that bee maths stuff in soooooo useful). Honey season is therefore over for that hive, so I may just remove the honey super on the next inspection and feed them so they can build some stores up in the brood chamber and get some energy on board to draw some of the still naked foundation following a recent colony split I performed. Was it OK to remove the queen cell from Dido? Well, I had not seen the queen there (she was not marked yet, but even so I think I would have spotted her in a nuc) so perhaps she swarmed after that queen cell was sealed? I'm slightly doubtful of that since the colony population seemed high, but even if by removing the queen cell I have made the colony queenless, they can always raise another queen cell from the ample eggs in that hive. I hope. I am left wondering how to control the population of a nuc. The bees raised a queen cell in 3 and a half weeks after this nuc was set up, and I'm unsure how to prevent this. They clearly do this since the space is so limited, but that's just a fundamental property of a nuc. I'll need to give this some thought and read up on it. At least now they have a new frame of undrawn foundation to worry about.
Hive Amidala doing a little better, though still suffering from the splits (and possible swarms) of earlier in the season and therefore a little limited in population and honey production for this time of year. The in-progress brood population is huge, however, so hopefully they can stash away some honey through the latter half of July to somewhat save this tragic season. I am, however, still learning a lot, and my enthusiasm and enjoyment is still high despite the challenges!
Oh, another thing is that I checked and removed the varroa floors from both Amidala and Boudicca. Although I had not vaselined/greased the boards, I was still delighted to see a tiny varroa count. Yippeeeee! The count in Amidala this time last year was in the thousands! My Apiguard treatment last August and my oxalic acid treatment last December must have worked wonders! I've also been removing sealed drone brood every now and then, so I guess that helped too. Speaking of which, Amidala has a deep brood box, but from a recent transfer I still have 2 standard depth brood frames in there. Both of these have very substantial wild drone comb beneath them with brood, some of which has just been sealed. Much more will be sealed before the next inspection, at which time I will again remove and destroy this comb. Ha! I'm much happier with the varroa population this year than last. Also worth saying that I shifted the frames around slightly to rotate these shallower frames nearer to the hive edge so I can remove them in a month or so and at last get my colonies more stable before winter.
Lastly, that improvised contact feeder (pictured in post below) seemed to work well on the nuc. Having said that, given that colony's vigour I'm wondering whether I should have fed them at all, even with that small amount!