At least she's consistent in her problems...
I took off the T-cover to look at the Hive Top Feeder. It was about a quarter full of crystallized sugar. All of that was dumped on the ground away from the hive. The ants & dogs will appreciate that. Though there were still some bees in the HTF working the candy. It will be put away for now. The nights are now in the 50's & 60's so the bees won't be clustering anymore.
Beneath the HTF was the brood nest in the deep hive box. The population looked great. Few of the bees stolen from Myrina are left. They still make their presence known during inspections by becoming hyper-defensive. The rest of the girls are Mary's. They have 4 full frames of capped brood right now. Unfortunately the brood pattern is spotty. Which is a sign the Queen is weak. I have already talked to a local queen breeder about buying one as soon as he has some. Mary was weak all last year. I didn't understand that until late Fall when it's too late to requeen. Now is the time for that.
Another sign of a weak queen is chalk brood. Which i found several cells worth in the middle of the nest. I knew it would happen. That's why I talked to that queen breeder 2 months ago. But I must say for a fading Queen Mary is doing better than expected. If she can keep it going for a little while longer she'll have done her part. After which with the new Queen the spotty brood & chalk brood will go away.
Speaking of which Queen Mary was found on frame 5 milling about. I meant to mark her today but forgot to borrow the marking pen from my neighbor; now a new beekeeper herself. I mark her next time.
I have been wondering how the bees will handle making drone cells on Plasticell. It's cell size is smaller than drone cell but not by much. Mary's girls made some drone cells on the bottom of 1 frame; not unusual. However, they half attached it to the imprinted Plasticell foundation & half on the wood frame. That way they could make it that little bit bigger that they needed. I've not yet found any drone cells in the middle of the frame. I'm thinking they won't but am waiting to find out.
Also on the bottom of the frames I found a few Queen cups. These differ from the queen cups in the New Hive due to their location on the frame. Queen cups on the bottom of the frame would become Swarm cells. When a Swarm cell hatches the OLD queen takes half the colony and leaves the hive for good. They then setup shop elsewhere as a new colony. The New queen from the swarm cell stays in the original hive to carry on the where the Old queen left off. Not enough space in the hive is one reason for a colony to swarm. This may be a indicator that this hive needs another deep hive box put on the hive. With extra room for brood the colony will be less likely to swarm. So I'll put another brood box on this hive this week, as soon as it's painted.
Finishing the inspection had a slight bump. Without the HTF i need to put the Inner Cover on. I don't have one I'd use. Mary's old one from fall was puled off when I moved her back outside. It was plastered with crystallized sugar & Nosema droppings. The leaking syrup also warped the cover. I'd rather burn it than use it. For now I'll leave the HTF on but with water in it. What rock sugar i couldn't knock out will sweeten the water. I'll make another IC this week and put it on next weekend.
Spotty brood & chalk brood.
She needs a DHB and a IC.
Oh...and a new Queen!