The hive that wintered from last year (in the center of the three) is definitely the strongest. The girls in this hive have been filling up frames and the queen is laying a lot of eggs. We know this because we can see the frames are full of bees.
We also know they are doing well and working hard because we can see that the frames are being filled with honeycomb and honey. Isn't that brand new, white comb beautiful?
The next photo is a look down through the uppermost box into the next. We're looking straight down, seeing the side of the box on the left and a brand new frame on the right, down into the box and frames below where the bees have already made comb that they're working on filling with honey.
We're very excited about how strong this hive has been. The other Langstroth hive is moving along well, too (the style with boxes stacked on top of each other).
The main update as of late is with the Top Bar Hive:
This hive started out very, very strong at the beginning of the season. We have found that they are now not as strong. They seem disorganized. After watching for some days and inspecting, we believe they are queen-less. Since bees don't leave us a detailed journal of hive events, we are are guessing that they "swarmed". Sometimes, when honeybees feel they have run out of space, their instinct leads them to a big change. Half of the colony will leave, with a new queen, to make a new hive. Although this is disappointing for a beekeeper - and for us because we know these bees will have little chance of making it through the winter - we decide to be optimistic. Nature needs the bees and another hive in the wild is a good thing.
Our hive, meanwhile, is now struggling. We don't know why they are without a queen and they are not really drawing out any comb on the frames. We, being new to this hive style, have yet to master the timing and manner of adding new frames, which may have contributed to them feeling space was running low. After some thought, Mr, Bee and I decided to take all of the frames out of the top bar hive and put them in a Langstroth-style hive, in hopes that it will help them organize and rally their forces. We have also begun the process of adding the "nuc" we had (a "nucleus" of a laying queen, brood, and working bees) to this hive. Hopefully this will work to get these bees back on track.
Summer is in full bloom here and is beautiful. We hope you're enjoying it, too.