The group came down in the rain just to have a look at the hives on Saturday, but the main visit was on Sunday afternoon. This is what we found when we looked at the 4 hives/nucleii.
1) We were pretty sure the split from the Lizards has a new queen. We saw an opened queen cell on the bar of brood Jim and I put in about 3 weeks ago. The bees were behaving normally and as if they had a queen. They only had a very small amount of honey left, but were bringing in pollen and also eating the syrup we put in a couple of days before. There were lots of drones hanging around.
2) The Dolphins were bearding again and there were lots of bees in the air and loads of drones. Phil removed the beard into a flower pot and we looked to see if there was a queen in it. Couldn't see one and when we went back all the bees had gone back into the hive. We didn't disturb the main hive, apart from peeking in the end. They are possibly planning a cast, so we need to keep an eye on them for the next few days. It could also have been that a new queen was off on her maiden flight.
3) We went right through the Lizards. They are madly building on new bars both ends, but otherwise things weren't that good. There was very little worker brood and about 3 times as much drone brood. However the good news was that it looked like a supersedure cell had opened, so they probably also have a new queen. It looked like there might have been another, opened, supersedure cell on another comb too. Jim and I had noticed a possible supersedure cell few weeks ago, but strangely the 2 opened ones we saw on Saturday were either side of the bar we had marked. When I spoke to Jim about this, we were both pretty sure we had marked the correct bar. Did they break down that cell for some reason and make 2 more, or was it unsuccessful? We will never know. They had quite a lot of stores.
4) The new, caught, swarm in the nucleus box was looking good. Mick made a feeder for them yesterday and fitted it last night. It has wetted granulated sugar in it, on Phil's suggestion. He has found this is a good way to feed the bees at any time of year.