Its vital to check your honey bees at this time of year to see if they still have enough food. Over the Christmas period there was one day (yes, just one) when the wind dropped and the sun shone briefly to raise the temperature to around 10 degrees; just enough for us to risk taking the lids off the hives. We only peeked down between the frames to look for signs of life and then added a block of fondant to the hives that had finished most of the honey in the super above each brood box.
One of the hives did not initially appear to have any activity and still had most of their honey so we thought it was dead. But then we found that the bee ball was hunkered down right in a corner of the brood box rather than in the middle. The ball still looked very small so it might not make it. This really surprised us as this was a strong and productive hive last year and I dont think there were any signs of queen succession in Autumn that might have resulted in an un-mated queen leading the hive into winter. However, at this stage there is nothing that can be done about it so we will just have to wait and see.
We will check their food supplies again in February.