Our June field day was Saturday, June 10, 2017. It was a warm (actually hot) day. We checked the horizontal and vertical hives by my greenhouse. The picture above is the horizontal hive. There was capped worker brood and it was in a decent pattern. We did see the queen. She is still dealing with a small population and seems to be making the best of it, laying as much as the small population can cover. I believe the population will increase as she continues to double it with each generation.
The vertical hive was looking better. I am not sure if we just accidentally put more bees in that hive to start, or if the queen is superior, I guess time will tell. They had about six to eight frames with at least some brood, equally distributed between the two boxes. The bees had drawn some new comb on the foundationless frames, which the queen filled completely with worker brood. We did see the queen there, also. She is marked and is also very dark, even darker than the one in the horizontal hive. I like dark queens! I will probably add an empty box to the top of this one this week to take advantage of the growing population and abundant forage.
I checked my other two hives two days before the field day. I found both queens there as well, so all four queens are alive and well. The hive at my neighbors was only in the top box, so I reversed the boxes so they would work both. The hive at my other property is a horizontal hive and is still quite small, but in similar condition to the one by the greenhouse. I am confident the vertical one by the greenhouse will give me honey this year. I am hoping the others will, too, but time will tell.
For me personally I won't try any more splits because these hives are as small as they can be and survive and I don't dare mess with them any further. I will wait until next year and try to make more nucs with more purchased queens. This is a multi year process and we need to be patient to let nature take its course and re-build the feral population.
The GOOD NEWS is that although the Big Guy beekeeper did return, he found there was no good spot to place his hives next to my property and put all 72 or so in the location 1 1/2 miles away. I do not think this is a threat to my very small hives because I don't see more bees on my property than I can account for and I don't see any robbing or fighting at my hives' entrances. YEAH!