Lots of bees, not much honey
I checked all three hives on July 9, 2021. This is the blue long hive. As you can see, eleven frames are covered and they are working very well. However, I had hoped to find capped honey in the hive by this point. I had put some empty frames between the frames they were working on last time and they did appear to be working them, but there are no fully capped frames of honey as there would normally be at this time of year. The vertical hive had some new wax, but mostly on frames that were already drawn. Honey cappings on this hive were wet, indicating that they are conserving resources and filling existing frames as full as possible and when they finally do cap the frames are so full the cappings have no airspace between them and the honey. The tan long hive had not moved beyond the first seven frames. The frames behind those were empty foundationless frames, so I took two frames of drawn comb from this hive and put them in that hive to encourage them to move back. I feel like a new beekeeper because I don't have much good drawn comb because I had a several years' break and I had to trash most of the comb I had last year. My conclusion is that forage is scarce or more correctly, competition for what forage is there is quite intense, since there are anywhere between 60 - 100 hives about a half mile or less from my hives. Because of this, my hives are not losing ground, but they don't have enough nectar to make new comb and store it. For me, it is a bit discouraging because the whole reason I keep bees is to get honey. I don't need gallons and gallons, just enough for myself and some to share with a few others. Back before the commercial beekeeper came every year with his many hives, I routinely extracted my first crop of honey in late June or early July and just kept going until September. In light years I got 250 - 300 pounds, my best year I got over 450 pounds, I know the potential is there, but now it has to be shared between a hundred hives instead of less than ten. The frosting gets pretty thin on a huge cake when you have a limited amount. The weather has been a factor, of course. It was too dry, then just when a wonderful basswood flow started we got over seven inches of rain in a few days. It doesn't appear that the bees were able to take full advantage of that flow, since there would have been a lot more comb and honey in the hives if they did. I did see a lot of activity on the tan hive yesterday (July 12, 2021), which I hope means they are moving back into the frames I added, but again, I could only spare two, and if they don't draw out new comb, that won't help a whole lot.