I am an novice beekeepers and I work at an outdoor school. Last spring, we got a three frame observation hive (the frames are stacked, so all cells are visible). I am wondering what it would take to overwinter a hive like this in South-western Michigan. We don't have many visitors in the winter, so the hive doesn't need to be visible. It is located in a school room where the temps will drop to the low 50's over the winter. The bees seem to be doing well right now, and seem strong. They have an access tube outside the building. I would love to be able to keep them alive over the winter, but don't know if that is a realistic hope. Should I feed them? Should I insulate them or is 50 degrees okay?
I am guessing that the biggest problem would be lack of stores for the winter. What would happen if I would arrange a deep super under the obs. hive with a queen excluder over the passage between the two, so that the workers could store honey in the super, but the queen would be visible in the observation hive until the end of October. Then, I could remove the queen excluder and allow her to go down into the hive where the honey is and move her back to the observation hive in the spring. Anyone have any other ideas?