Today is thirty-one days since hiving and both colonies continue to show steady forager traffic. Beatrix is still not building any comb on the two bars we had added but is steadily increasing the comb size on the original eight. Annabelle is slowly rebuilding comb on the bars that lost theirs due to our clumsiness. And we, ever-fretful, are calculating and recalculating population estimates and wishing there were an easy way to conduct a census among the bees.
It is difficult to find definitive numbers to use but a commonly given figure for worker bee lifespan is thirty-five days. That means that in four more days the last of any original workers will be gone. Starting with an initial population of fifteen thousand from the installed package and a half, neglecting drones, and assuming an even distribution of ages the population would have shrunk to about two thousand by now if no new bees were being born.
Two thousand bees, according to some, is coincidentally the number that would be covering one Langstroth deep frame. The largest natural comb currently on any one of our top bars does not have that much area but each hive has enough large-combed bars to add up to more than a deep frame and they seem covered in bees even during the warm afternoons when the foragers are away. This encourages us to think that new bees have emerged. But some sources think that workers can live for a week longer or forty-two days, which would result in four thousand bees by now if no new bees were being born. We think each hive has more than two thousand bees but are less certain of more than four thousand.
We could open up the hives and check for eggs(as if we could see them) or open brood but that worked out so well last time that we will likely just wait things out and hope for a clear population increase. Fretfully, of course.