Been a weird month, June.
"A swarm in May is worth a load of hay. A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon. A swarm in July is not worth a fly"
These two nuclei came to me in May. The old country saying, which refers to a "swarm" not in the buzzing around like a cloud of bastards sense, but in a movement of a new colony from an old one which you then take into a hive and cultivate, makes clear that May and June are key months. That is because there are more varieties of flowering plants on offer in these two months than at any other time in the summer. Before May it's blossom, if the Spring weather is good. By July it's bramble bushes and tree pollen then by August it's heather only. So May and June makes your colony strong or weak, depending on weather.
May was ok. it had a cold snap but a good long patch of warmth early on. June was warm to start then wet and cold for the best part of 3 weeks. The plants flowered then slowed down. So I have had to feed the colonies much more than one ordinarily would. But the good news is that I have been about so have not left them hungry.
They are drinking 1.5litres of food every three days per hive. If you think about how small a bee is, that's phenomenal. The volume is because they are developing their broods very fast. The queens are laying aggressively and the rate of birth is now exceeding the rate of decline (workers die after 7 weeks and we are 8 weeks into these colonies being hived). There is little sign of wax moth invasion, varroa infestation etc so they are healthy. They have built out 8 or more frames of brood and will soon build out the supers and lay down honey this month. The brood colonies in the brood boxes are really surprisingly heavy.
I have not yet marked the queens. Plan to do this on the weekend. This is where you find her, pop a queen cover over her to pin her gently onto the wax and then dot her thorax with a marker so you can find her easily. Non toxic etc.