I have learned bees cluster in the winter, can't fly below 40 degrees, and come out to defecate anytime they get a chance throughout the winter. If that logic is sound, is there any reason I cannot open a hive when it is over 40 degrees?
The issue at hand is I have a couple hives that are light. They were not that well prepared for winter but are still alive. I have a few frozen frames of honey from dead-outs that I could thaw and provide them but I obviously do not want to cause more harm than good by disturbing their cluster. Is there some kind of minimum amount of time over 40 degrees before opening a hive? Should I just wait until I see activity at the entrance and use that as my green light? Or, is disturbing them at all a bad idea and I should just wish them the best?
If they need feed, feed them. IMO waiting is not a option.
Put the honey frames on the outside of cluster.
40* is not so bad, some bees will probably be poking around the entrance testing the conditions
if not taking short fights.
The real danger is them running out of feed, or getting caught away from the feed when the temps drop again.
There's a huge difference between popping the top, looking down and adding feed compared with removing frames. I will pop the top at virtually any temperature if I am concerned about the bees starving to death. I do not move or otherwise manipulate frames in winter.
There seems to be a degree of zealotry around not opening a hive in the winter. Like others I'll crack the crown board if I'm worried about them and take a peek between the frames, I'd not pull frames. In your position I'd maybe put fondent over the cluster rather than trying to pull frames and replace them.