Re: winter checks
Exactly, when we have a nice day in the mid to upper forties with little wind I pop the tops and check the sugar bricks on the top bars. For a quick look at the cluster I've found the new small LED mag lights, while not cheap ($20-25), allows you to see deeper in-between the frames and are great for seeing into the cell bottoms during summer.
I'd rather do a quick check once in a while instead of assuming that they have enough to last.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw