I have one hive that made it through the winter - very weak and low in numbers. However the queen is still working away. Here is a picture of the brood pattern on Feb 28 this year:
One month later the bees have increased and the queen is obviously doing OK. The picture below shows capped brood and at the bottom of the brood pattern, you can see brood in various stages of development (and there are eggs in the very bottom edge)
I just installed two new hives from two nucs. However although the bees in this weak hive double every time I open it for inspection,
in this leftover weaker hive there are still 1/3 less bees than in the two new hives and the queen has brood in only the center three frames of a single medium box.
Maybe she is doing the right thing, given the lessened resources of the hive. Maybe the speed of her build-up is related to the available worker bees to take care of the young. The bees are flying every day and pollen is being delivered into the hive as regularly as in the other two hives. Last week I removed the empty deep below the medium and the hive is now confined to one medium box.
I can see an obvious Varroa mite in one cell right on the larvae in the center of the picture below:
I'm confused by the slow growth. Possibly the bees were weakened by Varroa over the winter. All I did for treatment was to encourage the bees to groom off the Varroa mites using powdered sugar shakes in the fall. This spring I have done a powdered sugar shake every 8 - 10 days for the past 3 inspections. Perhaps cleaning off the sugar slowed their growth.
I do find the queen in this hive every time, and she is working - today I caught her in the act of laying.
I have a friend who has two queens she ordered from Rossmans and does not need, so she is possibly willing to sell one of them to me, so if you all think I should requeen, a queen is arriving at Jennie's house in the next couple of days that I could use.
Is requeening a good idea or should I give the old girl a chance since she seems now to be picking up the pace?