Location, location, location
I checked both of my hives on June 8, 2019. This is the white hive, one month after I installed the nuc. This hive is as strong now as any of my hives were all season the past three years. I have been preaching forage, hive density and finding a location that has adequate food for the bees, and I feel this picture explains it all. I am sorry it took three years to figure it out, but only now am I realizing how many hives I was really competing with at my home location and in close proximity.
Notice the burr comb on the lid. Silly me just realized a month into this that I never put any inner covers in this hive. It is a transitional form of our long hive, with a flat roof and the inner covers are recessed in because it is double walled. Because of that, it closes just fine without the inner covers. Since my hives are far from home, I had taken the extra equipment home when I cleaned up the hives in the spring and forgot to bring back the inner covers for this hive.
I installed my second nuc on May 31, 2019. I put that one in the blue hive. It is also from Mary Bouma. I checked that also on June 8, a week after installation. It was covering six frames and had lovely frames of capped brood:
I am very happy with the progress of both hives and am very hopeful for a nice honey crop this season. These hives are building up just like my hives always did in the past with minimal interference from me. After this season is over I will make more definitive statements about the importance of location and forage, but for now I am just happy that things are going like they should for me once again.