Closed entrance and bees became runny; feed jar near cold entrance; comb bone dry
I manage two Draper 4-frame rotating observation hives (contains top shallow frame over three deeps) at local nature centers. Both colonies have fairly large populations on the top shallow and then the next two deeps below. They stay away from the bottom most frame because that is where the cold entrance air comes in. But that is also where the feed jar is - at the bottom. Therein lays the problem. Yesterday we noticed that both colonies had finished off what capped honey/stored syrup they had in the cells on all frames. (Both queens laying well with capped/emerging brood in the top two deeps. Hive #1 even with good pattern of capped brood in the top most shallow frame. The top shallow in hive #2 is only empty drawn comb.) But all cells not having brood were completely dry. Modest amount of bee bread but NO carbs in the way of capped honey or glistening nectar/syrup. Bone dry. The trick is to get them to go down to the feed jar where it is cold to drink syrup when it is so cold outside. We are in mid-MD. Temps are in the low 40s during day but around 20 at night. Is snowing heavily now.
Yesterday on hive #1 we tried closing the entrance while staff was at work. This worked great as the bees remained calm and expanded down to the feed jar and drank well. Since the attendant would not be coming in to work for two days because of this snow storm, we decided to leave the entrance closed overnight since we felt good air discharge from the top vent holes so do not figure the bees will suffer with the entrance closed off.
Question #1: Is there any danger in bees in a obs hive suffocating when the entrance is closed? The vent holes remain open with very little propolis.
On hive #2 we tried closing the entrance, but with hive #2 the bees became VERY VERY runny. While bees in hive #1 remained calm, hive #2 bees began scampering madly all about. They did expand downward and did start consuming the 1:1 like crazy (we added a teaspoon of a HBH type stimulant per quart). We decided to reopen the entrance late in the day yesterday when the staff went home and are leaving it open during this snow storm in order to calm them down. Opening the entrance calmed the bees down, but it caused them to abandon the feed jar which is located at the bottom near the cold entrance.
Question #2: Why did the bees in this obs hive become so runny while the bees in hive #1 remained calm?
Question #3: Any suggestions as to how to get feed to the bees when they are bone dry and the feed jar is near the cold bottom entrance?