This is my first hive. I started last Spring and basically let the bees do their own thing all year. I started with a colinized brood chamber box and added a deep super that became a second brood chamber. We got one deep super of honey from the hive. The hive swarmed once in August.
I read that the drones are all killed off when it freezes, but the number of dead bees in front of my hive is alarming!!! Our temps get down to 30 but rarely lower, and this die off occurred the week after our first real freeze in November. I thought for sure the whole hive had died, but after a serious rapping on the side found a solid sheet of bees emerge briefly to investigate. They rapidly re-entered the hive.
So can someone tell me if hundreds of dead bees is normal? They are all over at the entrance and piled up on the ground in front of the hive.
One of my hives also has hundreds of dead bees in front of it. This is normal mortality. If the numbers rise into thousands you might have something to worry about, but you can't do much about it this time of year anyway. It sounds as though your hive is probably healthy, but don't disturb them like that too often. If they have to break cluster and come flooding out, they use a great deal of stores while they settle themselves down again. The best way to check is to wait till it's not too cold - I don't like doing it in frosty weather - and quietly lift the inner cover. You can then see the position and size of the cluster. Don't lift any frames, that will force them to break cluster again.