As I did the inspection this afternoon, I came away both thrilled and disappointed. Thrilled that the hive is doing well as tt seems to have doubled in size again, and every frame was teaming with bees on both sides. Ever single inch of those frame was full of comb, and full of bees. That is every frame of the original frames. The disappointing news is that the three additional frames of wax foundation in the main brood box, and the medium box above it with eight frames of wax foundation remained untouched. While there were lots of bees crawling on it, not a single frame with foundation had been built out – not one.
So while I am thrilled the hive is doing so well, I fear it is now “honey bound” as I didn’t see as many brood as my last inspection two weeks ago. However, I will admit that there were so many bees that it was hard to tell what was on each frame, so there could have been a lot of brood I didn’t see. The only way I know how to relieve this is to get another brood box going. So today I swapped the wax foundation frames in the top brood box with foundation-less frames, using thin strips of wood hanging down about an inch from each frame instead of foundation.
What I have given them is essentially an expanded empty cavity in a rotted tree. There are no artificial guides showing them where and how to draw comb, they must do it themselves the way they have for millions of years. While it will take more resources for them to draw the comb themselves, this is what they seem to want to do, so I am going to let Mother Nature take her course and see where she leads them.
Whether the bees will take to the foundation-less frames or not is unknown, but I do know they don’t have much choice now as they need to expand somewhere. Fingers crossed for the next inspection.