There is never a time that we have opened the hives that we didn't get at least one surprise during our visit and today was no different. All of the hives look really good. We heard what we thought was a queen piping in one of the hives but we never did see a queen cell or a queen, but there were definitely eggs and brood in there Do the queens sing just because it's spring?? One of them is much smaller than I thought they would be, but they appear to have a young queen (who is beautiful, dark and caramel colored) but doesn't seem to be laying yet. We had thought this hive would be about to burst with bees since it has been one of our busiest hives since we first got bees. Did I mention that the new queen is this pretty, dark, fall honey colored gal who apparently ain't a bit shy?!! We all just hovered around looking at her while ooohhing and aahhhing at her gorgeous bee magnificence. :-D The second hive was a surprise to us too. The queen there doesn't appear to be very old either, and has the same rich, dark look that our other hive of Wayne's bees has but she is laying like crazy already! Every single frame is filled top to bottom with eggs and brood and between the two boxes they had built up burr comb and she was trying to fill it too. Needless to say we made sure that lady got some more room. The third hive went into winter so tiny that we were just sure it wasn't going to make it. We didn't see the queen but we saw plenty of her work to assure us that she was there so we just cleaned up the house for her and made sure all of the frames were in good shape. I'm glad this hive made it through the winter but I'm shocked that these bees just don't seem to clean up like our other hives do, they leave debris on the comb and the bottom board and there's not as much propolis in their hive as we are used to seeing but they seem healthy. The fourth hive looks good too and thrilled us all with the wonderful condition of the bees inside, but they are like the third hive in terms of housekeeping and propolis. I also never see these bees grooming themselves or each other the way that Wayne's bees do....is that a good thing or a bad thing? Wayne's bees groom themselves and often each other while we are looking around so I had come to think of that as typical bee behavior....now I'm not sure what to think. There is a huge difference between the last two hives and the two hives of Wayne's bees....it's really amazing to see the differences in how they keep house and how productive they are. Wayne's bees already have lots of stored pollen and what looks like clear honey (uncapped), but the other two hives have a little bit of pollen stored and had tons of debris on the bottom boards. More than likely we'll be requeening these two hives with queens from Wayne's bees later on this year. We are planning to get back into the hives in about a week and half to two weeks to see if our new queen is laying and give more room to the girls who are already working so hard. The most noticeable thing today was that we saw absolutely ZERO drones! I kind of thought there would be at least a few or some drone brood somewhere. It's a little puzzling and almost disconcerting considering our lovely new queen who may need some fellas to fly with for a bit. We also saw several of those nasty little shb critters that we have come to hate like nothing else in this life. We are planning a thorough cleaning of the bee yard and will spread a very thick layer of ashes under the place we will position each of the hives now. We are also planning to make some more of the traps out of the campaign sign type plastic stuff and putting those in the next time. I'm hoping that we can get ahead of those things before they get to be a problem for us again.