It's been a frantic recent period, but I've finally managed to obtain some more hive equipment and I feel reasonably confident that I'm ready for the spring and what the bees can throw at me.
I am now in a position to be able to cope with making increases and even housing the odd swarm. I now have enough two hives comprising 2 deeps and supers, and one with a single deep and 2 supers. I therefore have a spare hive!
I bought the boxes (all nationals) is off eBay, all fully assembled. I've not done this before and my experience was nothing short of exvellent. The boxes are of good quality cedar, solidly put together, very reasonable and they were dispatched rapidly. I would recommend the supplier to anyone.
I have also managed to do a brief inspection of the hives. The brood I found isn't quite as far advanced as I was expecting, given all I've been reading online, which is a relief, so perhaps Spring isn't quite as advanced as it appears. Anyway, I had a chat with a beekeeper I bumped into on a walk on Friday (near Balls Cross - see below) and she pretty much is experiencing what I am. It's nice to have some independent confirmation of the situation!
The bees were quite placid, even the "strong" hive that has been a bit aggressive. These bees were not quite agitated but we're in my face without stinging me. But they remained calm and I was in and out quickly on a cool day - pleased with that too!