A month ago I opened the lid on a pile of boxes with crap combs just enough so the swarm that had landed on the outside could go in and make themselves a new home. They “promised” to clean the combs in the pile. http://www.elgon.es/diary/?p=722
Two weeks ago I wanted to see if the bees had kept their promise. And if they had a good laying queen I had to move the colony before new brood hatched and they would grow too big to move without too much trouble.
I was glad to see that not all combs were crap combs. The pile consisted of boxes from dead outs and bottom boxes from weak colonies. The combs in the boxes were planned to be sorted out. But the swarm arrived before I did that.
The bees had found the side of the pile with the best combs. On the other side were some dirty combs they hadn’t touched. But in general they had cleaned the 5 upper boxes and lived mostly in the three top ones. The three bottom boxes they had just started to do some research and cleaning in. When I went through the colony, the cleaned combs and the amount of crap at the bottom of the pile I considered that the bees had kept their promise. Well done!
The combs in the bottom three boxes went to the solar wax melter. I sorted out the combs now and put all the combs the bees occupied in three boxes. The bottom one became one with no brood and no food. I planned to move it up above a queen excluder after I had moved the bees to a new apiary. I wasn’t sure in which box the queen was, even though I realized she probably was in one of the upper two.
The colony now had ten full shallow frames of brood. One of them was a foundationless they had built in a gap between two combs.
The colony might even be able to collect some honey also for me already this year. If the weather turns good. Otherwise this year might give the smallest crop ever (in average) during my 40 years as a beekeeper.