I started my bee check this afternoon by looking through the plastic window on the side of my Kenyan-style top bar hive. I was glad I did - the girls had drawn comb on all but one of the bars! I ran back to the house to grab a pot for the honey comb I intended to harvest, and then got to work. I started in the back, figuring that would be where the honey was, with the brood closer to the front. It didn't take me long to figure out I had that backwards! The back combs had almost no honey and lots of brood. So I checked the front frames, and found all honey with no brood! Score!
Unfortunately, the girls were drawing down their comb crooked, so I ended up breaking some comb, but I cleaned up my mess and it worked out fine. I harvested about 7 frames before I found brood and stopped there. That means the hive is still about 2/3 full of in-use comb; I'll have to keep an eye on it to make sure they don't fill up again and swarm.
In the Warre hive, the prospect wasn't so cheerful. When I lifted off the quilt, I saw only the same few frames of drawn comb that had been there when I checked the hive at the end of May. There were plenty of bees for that amount of comb, but not nearly what there should have been at this time of year. I'm worried that this whole hive may end up being a loss. I have no idea why one is thriving while the other is struggling; last year it was the other way around! I just don't know what to make of it.
For now, I'll just leave the Warre alone and hope it rebounds. My best guess is that they re-queened at the end of May (when I saw the queen cells) and are just starting to build their numbers back up. If there weren't a queen at all, there would be no bees left by now, so at least I can rest easy on that score.
I never thought raising bees would add so much drama and suspense to my life! Who needs to watch soap operas? Ha!