I decided to check the bees today to see what state they were in and plan for next week's field day. Since this is a critical time of year, I wanted to make sure the hives were queen-right and in good shape to have enough winter stores. This picture is about frame eight from the front of the white long hive. I did zoom in on the picture to make sure there was some larva and eggs in the edges and there are. This tells me there is a laying queen in this hive. They are in good shape. They have adequate stores and are covering 13-14 deep frames. There is a good population and a good field force. Yes, they were bringing in bright golden pollen and it smelled like goldenrod.
The hive next to it is the vertical hive that was started first. I dug all the way to the bottom to make sure there was brood and a laying queen. They didn't particularly like that, but I was satisfied that they have good honey stores and a good population and a laying queen.
Next I checked the long blue hive. It still has a lot of bees in the entrance, even though I have worked all summer to try to get it well ventilated. They have lots of frames of honey, although haven't filled up the empty comb I returned after extracting. I wanted to see if they had some brood, so I pulled a plastic frame fourth from the front. It was a medium, so it had burr comb built off the bottom. Half of the burr comb ripped off and stayed in the hive, the other half came up with the frame. Then I realized that they had attached at least that one comb to the bottom, which explains why they have ventilation issues. They cut off their bottom air flow. There was some capped brood in that frame, but lots of pollen. I didn't want to further disturb them to make sure they had a laying queen, so I am not positive. The population is strong, but they were not bringing in pollen. There was one bee in the hive that had pollen on her legs. This is a Saskatraz hive. They were not happy with me, so I closed them up and moved on to the small vertical hive. This hive was doing very well. It had expanded to fill most of its two bottom medium boxes and was storing some honey in a third above. I was going to pull some frames to look further, when someone nailed me inside my boot. I took that as a sign I needed to get out, because they sting pheromone sends the message "go get her!". So, I closed it up and went to find a jewelweed plant to put on the sting. That hive was acting queen-right. I didn't see a lot of pollen going in there, either. It is also a Saskatraz hive.
So, my conclusion is that all four hives look good. I would like to have more excess honey,and am not really sure why I don't. I could still have forage competition I am not aware of, or even the 2 1/2 mile proximity of the commercial hives I know are there could still be a factor. Or, they may just have started late. The season seems to have been a good one for growing things, so I would have expected more honey, but all the hives were started in May or June, so maybe I am expecting too much.