What a Great Day!
Sorry it took a week to post this! Here is the inside of the blue Long Langstroth on April 23, 2022. It was a perfect day for opening the hives. It was the first time I had opened the hives this season. I was looking for adult drones in this hive, and I found them. The first third of the hive was full of bees and brood and some new stores. There were several untouched frames of honey in the middle third. Apparently they did not need them over the winter. We carefully went through each frame. We did not find the queen. We took three frames with brood, one with young brood and two with capped brood and put them in a deep vertical hive box where the dead vertical hive was. We tried to look very hard to make sure the queen was not on the frames we took. We notched three cells on each side of the one frame that had very young brood. We put that in the middle of the deep box.
I should back up a bit. I had taken down the vertical hive and examined it to determine why it died over the winter. I found the top medium was mostly robbed out of any honey it had. The next box down was a deep and it was full of honey. The bottom box was mostly empty of anything. The bottom board had some dead bees and debris from robbing. There was no dead cluster to speak of. This meant that most likely I killed the queen late in the season with a clumsy inspection. I have not kept a vertical hive for a few years, so I probably was not as careful as I should have been. There was really no mold to speak of and we saw nothing of concern in the debris on the bottom board. I will say this was pure beekeeper error, which I have found in my experience causes the most harm to my hives! We cleaned off the bottom board and removed empty frames and put the three frames of brood in the middle and some partially filled frames on the sides of the deep. We put the lid on that and left them to work on making themselves a new queen. I will not open that until the next field day. Then we will see if they successfully made a new queen or not.
The removal of the three frames should give the blue hive relief enough to not feel the need to swarm. However, we did not find any evidence they were thinking about it. Although they had some drone brood and some adult drones, they did not have an excessive amount of either. There were no swarm cells or any evidence they were starting to make any. This hive did swarm last year, and I have read that this style of hive will naturally want to swarm every other year, so that could explain the lack of desire to swarm. They have plenty of space to expand.
We then examined the tan Long Langstroth hive. It was a little behind the blue hive. It had capped brood, but no adult drones. It had a strong population and was making honey and storing pollen and was definitely building up. It was a little grumpier than the blue hive, but it has always been. I added some empty frames behind the brood nest to encourage them to build back.
In the week since the field day, the flowering trees have started bloom and the dandelions are just beginning. The hives are very active. I can't tell if there is any activity on the split yet, I saw a little on a warm day, so I think it may be doing OK. When the capped brood emerges, it should have a strong population. I am pretty sure we didn't accidentally take the queen out of the blue hive because the activity level seems pretty much the same as before.
My daughter took some videos of the field day, which I will attempt to edit and upload. If I can't get them on this site, I will make a link. This may take a little time, this is a busy time of year on the farm!