Mick, you take some very interesting pictures. The bees look so cute making their way out.
Check this out though. It looks like there is only a small patch of brood area surrounded by lots of honey/nectar. I am not sure if that is really what I see, but if it is... I have learned the hard way that it is so important to keep an "open brood nest", so that the queen does not get honeybound and does not have room to lay. Mick, go and look to see if there is a problem with not enough room for the queen to lay (and a good laying queen too). I think that is the MOST IMPORTANT THING ever with regard to colony expansion, for many, many reasons.
Not trying to be bossy or nosey. But like I said, I think that is why I had so many problems and I don't want this to happen to other beekeepers.
I am positive that Idid not provide enough space for the queen to lay, the bees filled up the brood nest with nectar/honey and she could not have enough room to lay enough eggs. So the colonies got weaker and weaker (maybe swarmed too when my back was turned as well I bet), and then the varroa took over because the colonies were not strong.
Failure on my part in many ways was an incredible learning curve in my beekeeping and I need to share these failures so that other beekeepers will learn by them and work hard to understand these important factors in the life of the honeybee.
Keeping uncongested brood nests, lots of room for the evaporation of nectar and good bee health as well. All so extremely vital to the procreation of the species. Great day. Cindi