They are pretty close - do you suffer from drifting?
I'm sure there is some drifting, but I've painted the supers many different colors and patterns to help reduce drifting. It seems to work.
This apiary only has 5 colonies in it right now. Earlier this spring, February, the 10 colonies I kept here were 6 supers high and overflowing with bees. They seem to have built up using nearly all of their remaining stores and some early flows. The colonies were honey-light and very highly defensive. They seemed to be bringing in only enough to keep themselves from starving. I relocated 5 of them to my second apiary site (18 miles away at my mother's house) to reduce the population of defensive bees. Soon afterward a small honey flow began and then the mesquite honey flow, which is just now beginning to taper off. The hives calmed down a great deal as soon as the flows began. Since I don't harvest much honey (personal choice), the colonies seem to find a way to use what I leave them.
I built a combination TBH, a bottom box that is 20 deep frames in size, it will hold standard frames or top bars, and it uses two migratory covers, normal supers can be stacked above, 2 stacks side-by-side.
My plan is to convert these colonies at my primary apiary to a gentle strain of Cordovan Italians. I have begun this process, by first, creating 4 nucs and introducing the new queens. My usual queens are very difficult to locate. They run off the frames and hide at the least disturbance. This caused the loss of one of the new Cordovan Italian queens, when unintentionally a queen was included in one of the nucs, which resulted in the death of the new queen as she was introduced. After the intoduction cage had been in the colony for 5 days, I attempted to release her to a wire push-in cage so she could begin to lay prior to full introduction. My clumsiness inspired her to fly away
, but within a few minutes she returned and entered the top of the nuc. I thought I should leave well enough alone and promptly closed up the nuc (this was in the morning). By late afternoon she was dead and being removed from the colony. Later I discovered the queen that this colony already had.
The other 3 nucs accepted their new queens and are doing fine. One of them I used to establish a colony in the TBH. After merging the queenless bees with them they are coming along very well. I will soon remove the queens from two others and merge the Cordovan Italian nucs with them. I plan to obtain a few more Cordovan Italian queens and repeat this process until I have exclusively, 8 gentle Cordovan Italian colonies at this apiary location.