Both hives have now got an extra box on – 3/4 depth super for honey collection, as well as queen excluders, to keep the queen in the lower two boxes. Apple is running stronger than Olive, getting its box 2 weeks ago, Olive getting a new box on Friday. I also helped Dad with his hive – it had a little problem.
Dad’s hive was doing exceptionally strongly, despite losing two swarms. He has been adding boxes as needed, and so there were 5 boxes altogether, 2 full depth, then the queen excluder, then 3 3/4 supers. Unfortunately, the queen had managed to get through the excluder, and so there was brood everywhere, except for the boxes we wanted there to be brood in. No wonder the hive kept running out of space.
Queens tend to lay down low in the spring, and work their way up the hive during the summer, and then back down in the autumn, ceasing laying in the winter. The reason for queen excluder is that no-one really likes the taste of brood smushed in with the honey.
We sorted out the boxes, removing the queen excluder, swapping the bottom two boxes around, and consolidating all frames with brood into one box. We also took away the frames filled with honey, ready to extract, and added a new box of wet drawn-out comb. There were two and a half boxes of full comb. Yay.
It all took a few hours, but the bees were very placid, and didn’t sting us at all. Dad has more or less given me his hive, lugging heavy boxes of honey around is getting a little difficult – after all, he is 85.