During the Piedmont Patch planting day on April 14, I did a quick check on the bees. I saw plenty of bees coming and going at the entrance, some bringing in pollen on their legs. They pack pollen from plants into "pollen baskets" on their rear legs and carry a variety of colors back to the hive! They use this as protein for raising brood, so seeing pollen coming in is a great sign. This will only increase in coming months, as many of the plants planted today are bee favorites, including asters which will help them greatly during the fall!
I did see some of the black ants crawling on the hive and saw few inside. Not to worry - they're after the sugar syrup I fed them and shouldn't mess with the bees. A strong hive of bees can defend themselves pretty well against several pests. They have even been know to feed a particular beetle that is a hive pest, after trapping them in propolis (a sticky substance they seal stuff up with). Very generous!
The best thing was that I saw the queen crawling about. I saw eggs in a variety of cells and even saw her lay an egg. All is well and going smoothly so far!
Pollen basket info & pictures: