Been a hard Winter for my bees. By Mid February I had only lost one hive but in the course of the next four weeks every time we had a cold snap or another snow storm I was loosing a hive to starvation despite feeding them sugar inside the hives whenever it warmed up enough to open the tops. I even had feeding stations out that the bees were hitting whenever they could fly and they still died. My hives were so depleted and never really built up after the drought and heat hit last Summer they just couldn't take a late arriving Spring this year.
Anyway a fellow down the road asked me if I would remove an old hive from his property that had been there for at least 10 years he said and the bees were getting mean. I don't know if it is the same colony continuous for the 10 years but what I found were three medium supers with no bottom board and a cracked rotting single board on top sitting directly on a concrete slab. The upper most super had been pushed off about half an inch allowing rain and snow in but was the only entrance the bees had. It was a mess and I was surprised the sagging and rotting supers were still holding together. Since we got into the 70's today I rigged up a bottom board and transferred the top super to it then put the other three on top of that hoping to not break up whatever brood arrangement these bees have going on. I then put a top entrance on so the returning foragers wouldn't be too confused and all on top of a pallet arrangement that I can now pick up with help easily. The hive is light, I easily picked up the three mediums and they didn't weigh much so they have little stores that's for sure.
Here's my problem. If I didn't do any unknown harm by moving the supers like crushing the queen or letting too much heat out or breaking up the brood or something will moving this hive 1.8 miles cause the foragers to go back to the original spot or do you think it would be fine when I move them to just place something in front of the hive to make them reorient?
Also if anyone has any advice for how to clean this hive up and most importantly when I should start. It is still getting chilly here (Mid Missouri) and I am afraid that none of the bee survivors have much room for ham-handed treatment or setting them back by going into the hives right now. Should I move them and leave em be for a few weeks until I know they are bringing in stores once again? As I watched them going into the new set up they were bringing in alot of pollen so they must have brood going or plan on it anyway but this hive is going to need hours of burr comb cleaning and new frames because as it is now all it is, is one big bur comb all together.
Any help or advice would be appreciated.