Yesterday's inspection started well. Firstly, there was no need to open hive #2 at all (the new queen will be spending the next fortnight, ahem, 'entertaining' gentleman callers).
The nucleus only needed a quick inspection - the new queen is laying plenty of eggs, and everything looks fine.
So, onto Miriam's hive. Getting the new outer walls off was a little tricky, as they'd stuck together at the joints because of the paint. A bit of gentle brute-force dealt with that.
Inside, the bees are still making queen cells, though I think there are fewer this week. But what there is noticeably a lot of, is bees. OK, this shouldn't be a surprise, it's a beehive - of course there are lots of bees, right? But really, Miriam has done a cracking job of laying plenty of eggs (2,000 a day!) and it's getting very busy inside her hive now.
So, I was having to find queen cells and cut them out again, which is slow work, because I needed to be sure I'd cleared each frame before moving onto the next one. And there are so many bees on each frame now that it's very easy to miss a queen cell, as it could be hidden under a cluster of bees, or in the corner of the frame. I worked methodically along, clearing frame number one, then two, three, four, five... It seemed to be getting more difficult as each frame seemed have more bees than the last one. You will normally never hear this complaint from a beekeeper, but - dammit, there are too many bees!
While holding the sixth frame, I was wondering why there seemed to be twice as many bees as when I started. Then I realised - since I'd started the inspection, thousands of foragers had returned to the hive, expecting to deposit their nectar into the honey frames in the supers. But of course I'd taken the supers off to inspect the brood box. So the bees were just gathering in the brood box, with nowhere to go. How many? This many:
It had got to the point where I couldn't get my fingers far enough into the hive to lift the frames out. And putting the frames back was a devil's job, as bees kept getting stuck under the frame lugs. I decided to admit defeat, stop halfway, and carry on with the other half of the brood box today.
I also saw that the supers were getting quite full with honey now, and realised the bees were running out of space. So I added another super, and then closed up. The hive is getting quite tall, now!