Avalon has finally succumb and has not made it through the fall. We knew there was something wrong with the Queen (or lack of), but it was at a point where we were not planning to fix it, so it was just a matter of time. So, we cleaned up the hive and she awaits new spring bees. We will think it through over the Winter as to how we would like to rehive her.
We might hope and pray that the other hives do well enough that we can split them, but I am leery of doing that as none of our hives is really that strong and we don't know how they will come through the winter. Or we could hope to catch a swarm. But what we will probably do is buy new bees. Probably Russians, as we seem to have the best luck with them.
Eventually, we would like to be at a point where we are producing our own splits and no longer have to purchase bees...but that is at least a year off.
For those of you sharing Avalon with us, if you have not gotten your package, you should have by now. It included 1/4 pound of honey, a bar of our goat milk and honey soap, and postcards of our bees! We're only hoping our production goes up and up as the years go by. We still have lots of faith in our little bees...and the good that we are doing keeping bees.