I found the bees flying well today, with three out of four colonies very active, bringing in large quantities of pollen. That alone is noteworthy, as there isn't usually much available this early in the year. I rook advantage and did a quick inspection.
The two native hives, with queens raised in the good weather in late summer last year are doing well, but with far more brood than I'd expect in February. As a result, they're using their food stores at a rate of knots, and need watching carefully. Of the two hybrid colonies, with queens raised by someone else in the bad weather at the beginning of last summer, one is moribund, and evidently lost its queen some time ago. I'm going to combine that with one of the good hives tomorrow. The other is strong and active, but has no brood at all. I suspect it's queenless as well, but I'm going to give it a while just in case. All being well, my plan now is to use the two healthy colonies for honey, take it at the end of July, and then raise new queens, with a view to starting two new hives to replace the hybrid ones.
I did a bit of digging, but that pretty much finished me for the day, as it's heavy going after all the rai we've had.
2 days ago