Its been tricky finding a chance to check the hives because its been so cold or wet. I am worried about a couple of our colonies which where a bit small in autumn and I think they are likely to not make it through the winter. They definitely dont need me lifting the lid and costing them all thier warmth.
btw - did you know that to keep warm honeybees disconnect thier wings and vibrate thier 'shoulders'?
Anyway, I realised yesterday that I have forgotten to put the floors in under the open mesh floors and even though this is not totally necessary for healthy hives I thought that it would help the smaller colonies. As I added each floor I also hefted the hives to check thier weight. I then let each colony drop to the ground causing a small bump, which - for a live hive - generates a gentle 'buzz' reaction from inside. My smallest colony felt very light (they would not take much syrop in September but I have given them a block of candy) and there was no audible reaction so I concluded they may already be dead. I lifted the lid and was very surprised to find a few working on the candy block so very quickly put the lid back. I then want back and spread some of last years honey directly onto the queen excluder. They immediately started to work on it so I hope this gives them enough of a boost to make it.