Time to Combine
I recently checked on the 3 hives and the little "artificial swarm" nuc, and all seem to be doing well. Some more well than others ....
Hive #1 in particular seems to be booming, with lots of bees hanging out on the front of the hive whenever I check in. This phenomenon is called "bearding", and is just a normal behavior of a healthy hive. Bees will fan their wings and hang out on the "front porch" to increase ventilation and cool off the hive during these dog days of summer. Hive #3 has been the trouble-maker all along, and Hive #2 is the middle-child.
Hive #3 (the one that was itching to swarm) was about ready for it's 3rd box, so I took the opportunity to recombine it with the "artificial swarm nuc" I split off earlier. All that means is that I put a layer of newspaper on top of Hive #3, and placed a box on top of that containing the 10 frames from the nuc. The hive will really get a boost from the drawn comb, along with all the brood, honey stores, and bees that come with it. The newspaper is just there to provide a buffer between to two colonies, that the bees will slowly chew through as they get used to each other's scent and merge into one.
I'm still feeding the hives a 1:1 solution of sugar water to help them out as they're building new comb. As soon as they each have 3 medium hive bodies of drawn comb, along with a little stored nectar and honey, I'm going to cut them off. We are entering a summer dearth of nectar, and I don't really want to encourage brood-rearing at this time. Besides, they need to pull their own weight eventually.
By the way, I'm aware of how lame the names "Hives #1, #2, and #3" are. If anyone has some good name suggestions, let me know.