First winter - is it too late to remove a partially empty super from a weak hive??
I'm in Rochester NY where it's cold (25 degrees today). This is my first year beekeeping and first winter (got two hives this past spring). I have two hives, one is very strong and one is weak. Both currently have two 10-frame deep supers (brood box + feeder box). The strong hive is packed full of bees and honey and I'm optimistic the hive will make it through the winter. But the weak hive has a second super with mostly empty frames in it. I looked this morning and there is some comb built up a few inches on the center couple frames and some bees on it. I read that it's not a good idea to leave a mostly empty super on a hive over a cold winter—especially a smaller weak hive. I suppose I could remove the second super, but what if the queen is in there, or I lose a bunch of bees when I take it off? It's already winter and weather is cold in. If there's a chance it will die either way, I'd rather make the least risky decision. What should I do?
Re: First winter - is it too late to remove a partially empty super from a weak hive
assuming "feeder box" just means box with all honey and not a box you are putting feed in? you should have taken empty boxes off months ago and consolidated the hive. i doubt the queen is up there if there is not sufficient honey. When you take it off give it a few hits and the bees should fall down. shouldn't be a lot of bees up there. try and do on a warmish day 45+ and sunny so if they fly they might make it back to the entrance.
You should put on a feeder shim and give them fondant or sugar bricks as insurance if they are small cluster.