This last week, I have done quite a few things.
First, I ordered some Mann Lake PF-105's.
These are black plastic frames with a cell size of about 4.95mm.
I trimmed the end bars from almost 1 3/8"
To about 1 1/4".
This for what could be called "Narrow Frame Beekeeping." Michael Bush's website explains it here. The basic idea is that with smaller cells, naturally, the space between the combs will also be smaller. Also, you can fit 11 frames in a 10 frame box, or nine frames in an eight frame box.
So, today, I was out working the bees to try to catch up the behinders and make the first split of the year. I finally found the queen in the big hive who I was unable to find before. Here she is. She is a biggun.
I took her and about four frames of brood and placed them in my new 10 frame nuc design. It's a ten frame sized box that is about 3/8" deeper than normal to account for bee space under the frames. It has a disc entrance which can be closed in case of skunk predation or to be moved or whatever.
I had added some foundationless frames a week ago as an experiment. Here is one of those frames after one week. That is 100% drone comb by the way, and it already has eggs in it.
Here are some five frame nucs I made from plywood. They are inexpensive and I added the disc entrances for an added measure of utility. They could be used to catch swarms, as bait hives, as nucs in the yard, or to sell. They are made from 15/32" plywood and one sheet can make about four and change.
So, now for the rest of the month and into next month, I am working to get enough brood to start the four new hives that will be made from the four queens coming in the mail in the latter half of May. I hope these bees can explode and reach critical mass in time. The skunk predation is still reverberating through the months. Depending on conditions, the new queens may be starting with a very minimal population of bees.