So far July has been yet another round of trying to avoid the bees swarming, and failing. The first hive that showed signs of swarming produced 107 queen cells in a single week; we squashed every cell we could find and took an artificial swarm but the probably too late and the queen went. They have a few remaining queen cells which have now hatched but still no sign of a new queen or laying. We have now added eggs to test if they have a queen or will build another.
The same goes for the new artificial swarm - still no laying so have donated a frame of eggs to focus thier minds.
The other two hives have needed bigger brood spaces; one we have been culling for the eggs in queenless hives and giving them back sheets of foundation to draw up; the other we have raised the queen excluder above the first super and have sacrificed some space was half full of their winter honey stores.
Checking two brood boxes is tedious so I think we will invest in the bigger size national brood boxes for next season.
We have also been feeding some limited amounts of sugar syrup to whatever hives needed to draw up new wax quickly (limited to when I remember to get out there).
As July draws to a close we dont seem to have very much honey laid down and the amount of flower available is rapidly beginning to look autumnal. The season has been very disrupted by two rounds of swarming after the initial spring honey flow and now I think the priority is ensuring that we have robust colonies to prepare for winter.
If the queenless hives dont recover and have laying queens within the next week I think we will need to recombine. However, the other two hives are currently very full so i am really not sure.
This is only our second season as beekeepers but I suspect these dilemmas are standard part of the job; all advise welcome