Over the Christmas period it was so mild that the temperature rose above 10 degrees on several days so we decided we would take a peek and see how the ladies were doing. So we made our plans and just waited till the wind dropped. The plan was to check food supplies and also administer the dreaded oxalix acid- as per BBKA news advice - before they start laying and the larvae might be damaged. We ended the season with three hives but one was a merge of two that were in trouble and we knew they hadnt put away as much sugar syrup as the other two. Sure enough the hive was lighter and as soon as we lifted off the roof we could see lots of them coming out of the crown board. Apparently this is the classic sign of hungry winter bees; they leave the wamrth of the bee-ball in the brood box and search the entire hive for food. Actually they did still have some fondant but we have them another couple of blocks placed in the eke directly above the brood box.
The other two hives were behaving as you would wish; all quiet when you open the lid and hunkered down in the brood box. Hopefully all three colonies will make it through winter ok.