From five to three, that was today's work.
My big hive, it turns out, was all smoke and mirrors. Those bees have been busy, but their numbers are dwindling. I could tell because there were fewer bees flying, and when I got into it, there were fewer bees on the tops of the bars. No queen, no brood, no eggs. Terrific!
Terrific because I had hives with queens, so I figured I'd tear down that big one and split it between two other hives which had only one deep each.
But then I discovered that one of the three one-deep hives also had no viable queen, although many (five? six?) capped queen cells from one half comb. I cut those out and added that hive to one of the queenright ones.
And that was how, in about 45 minutes, my apiary went from three underperforming hives and two which showed promise, to three that should make a good showing. They should.
I don't know if I'm off the hook for inspections now, and can simply toss supers on top as needed, or if I'm still going to have to make like a bear and burrow through the broodnest every once in a while.
Plus, I'm still trying to coordinate the sale/pick up of that feisty hive at my friend's house. The fun never ever ends.
9 hours ago