“This doesn’t look right” is how I usually determine my beekeeping preventive action plans.
I had been a bit slow removing the top feeders from the last hives that needed Fall feeding. When I got to it last weekend, I was surprised to see one hive with bees in a loose cluster on the frames of the top super. It was warm and there were bees flying but this hive was different from the other hives that still had feeders. The hive was heavy so there was the normal amount of stores when compared to the other more normal looking hives.
I thought about this for the week and decided that the cluster would not move down (after all it is December) so the most likely outcome is that the hive would starve with a full super of honey below and nothing above. Yesterday was in the high 40°F so I took a long shot (just before a predicted temperature drop) and added a super of honey to the hive. I keep extra frames of honey for just this type of situation. Spring will tell if I made the right decision. I’ll keep track over January and February adding candy as needed. One other option would be to switch the supers on a warm February day if there are still frames of honey below the cluster. I plan to also follow the checker boarding swarm control method in late February 2014.