Dr. B, what part of Mississippi? Nice set up. In the second picture it looks like lots of dead bees on sand in front of the hives, everything ok?
Down in Simpson Co., Miss.
Yea, those are dead bees. I put down old carpet in front of my hives in the spring, to keep down the weeds from in front of the hives. As the year progressed, the bees cleaned out their respective hives, and tossed out the dead workers onto the carpet. Yes, it's dead bees, but collected over about 5 months.
As to what kind of bee year I've had, I've lost more hives to swarming this year than I wanted, simply because I was limited to my time working them this year. I simply wasn't there to catch them. My dad would call me at work and say "you've got another swarm down there", but they'd be gone by the time I got home from work, alas I've taken steps to fix that for next year. My bees seem to be thriving (knock on wood). I worked 3 hives yesterday, that I swear I could split each hive into 10 splits each if I wanted to (although I'm not. I'm through with splits this year). These are the most bees I've ever had in a hive. All three hives are 4 deep brood boxes high. Busting at the seams with honey. All four boxes, on all 3 hives packed with bees and honey. These bees propolize more than the others, but seem to make more honey than the others. Most of my hives are in good shape going into the winter. We've still got some a good fall honey flow just starting down here. They should do well.
I seemed to have a lot of feral swarms attracted to my bee yards this year. I wonder if the feral bees smell something that attracts them to my yards. Back during April, May, & June this year, I've had at least 2 swarms in my yard, EVERY DAY for I'd say 6-7 weeks. I actually ran out of places to put them. Every single box I had was full. I hived several on just empty frames. It got somewhat aggrevating, when we'd be getting ready to go out to eat with the family, and look down to my yard and see bees hanging, but this is what you deal with in the bee business. I had a swarm that was the biggest swarm I've ever seen. It could have filled up 2 five gallon buckets with bees. It looked 3 foot long and at least a diameter of 2 foot across of solid bees. I hived it for 3 days straight, placing it in a hive each day. It still swarmed and left. I should have put a queen excluder on the entrance, but ran out of equipment to use. I know these bees did not come from my bee yard, so that's why I feel they are attracted to my yards for some reason. I split all my hives around mid-March, and split them really well. We pulled them down to about 2-3 frames in each split, and split some hives into as much as 4-5 splits, 6 weeks before the spring flow. Even doing this a few of mine swarmed later in May and June. Go figure?
I had a lot of days, where I'd go to my yard, and there'd be what seemed like MILLIONS of smaller black honey bees flying ALL OVER EVERY hive, all over my bee yard. At first I thought it was a swarm taking flight, but these bees were all over every hive. I didn't understand what was going on, and just decided it was one or several feral hives trying to rob the hives in my yard. They were all over every hive, covering the tops on each hive. Seemed like millions of bees in a tornado of a swarm. They really didn't bother me much, as I could walk right out in the middle of them, and not get buzzed. Anyone else every have this happen? Maybe it's common.
It's been a great year!
I am blessed!
Thanks for asking :-D