Man, this is rough. I started this spring with five hives coming out of winter (started with ten going into winter). Had one really strong hive, two decently strong hives (for early spring) and two weak hives. I split the strongest one at the beginning of May and put the queen in the walkaway. The walkaway is now my strongest hive, with another of the stronger one close behind, each with 6+ frames of brood in each box and bees galore. I have three supers on each.
The cutdown, unfortunately, didn't fare as well. I went into the hive the weekend of 5/26 and saw a nice plump queen in there, but no eggs yet, but booming with bees. Today when I checked there was no brood other than some drone brood on one frame -- and only about 3 frames of bees. Needless to say, no queen among them. Quite a change from last time I looked! I put a frame of eggs and mixed brood (all range of ages) from another hive, removed the supers and closed them up.
The other "decently" strong hive had a little fewer bees than before, but still new brood and several queen cells throughout the brood box, one of them opened and empty. So I caught them in the middle of supercedure. Closed them up and left them alone. The two weak hives were still weak and not growing, although they all had frames of eggs and brood in them. So I just cut them down to one box each and closed them up.
I'm trying to figure out what happened to the two stronger hives, and have a theory. Last Sunday about mid-afternoon when I was working out in the mum field, I thought I heard a loud buzzing sound. I stopped and listened, trying to locate it, but I couldn't. A few hours later I went back to the house and as I passed the pavilion where I store my extra equipment, I saw a mass of bees flying in and out of a gap between two boxes. Could have been robbing some dribs and drabs, but they hadn't been there the day before when we had our party and besides, they kinda acted like they belonged there. The boxes were stacked all catty-wumpus, so I went out that evening and reset them with a real bottom board and top. They were there Monday morning, Tuesday morning, and gone Wednesday morning. But Wednesday evening there were a slew of bees flying in and out of a bait hive I set up at the back of our field.
So I figure at least one of my hives swarmed, but one of the swarms didn't like when I messed with their new home. I've been leaving the bait box alone, and the bees are still there. So I guess technically I've got seven hives now, but unfortunately, only two of them are making any progress toward putting honey away.
This has been a very weird (and disheartening) year so far. :'(