I checked up on one of my apiaries in December last year. The hives mostly have four supers on them, all 10 frames, all deeps except the top super which is a manley sized. They were completely full of honey. I wanted to do a honey extraction to clear up some space, but I couldn't get my spinning extractor to work, so I ended up only taking out a few good frames of honey in each hive, to clear up some space.
I then checked up on them recently, expecting to do a honey extraction as the bees usually store a good amount of honey during this time of the year. To my utter shock, the bees are incredibly low on honey. They only have a few frames of honey throughout the whole hive, except for one that didn't even have a single good frame of honey! I went to the hive that had the most amount of honey and took out a few honey frames, to give to the hive that was struggling the most. The bees were noticeably lower on population than what is usual, particularly the one that had little honey. It was pretty noticeable when opening the hive and seeing hardly any bees up top on the mat.
Winter will be here in six weeks time. I suspect the nectar flow mostly stops around this time of the year. I'm really concerned for them and not sure what to do.
Is it odd at all that the bees could go from having such a huge stock pile of honey, to be on the verge of starving in just four months? My other bees which are an hour away, are also doing terribly and didn't seem to bring in any honey either, but that's less of a surprise because they've never seemed to do well at that site.
I figure I'll have to check up on them in the Winter, and take lots of food to give them. What should I feed them? Just straight white sugar, or might it be best to make some sort of pollen patty? Should I make some sort of feeding device, I can I just put a lot of white sugar on their hive mat, with some water sprinkled in it so they know it's food? If so, how much sugar should I give each hive?
Would it be best to reduce the supers? The one that's doing the worst is four supers deep and it seems mostly empty. I'm concerned that if I remove supers, then wax moth will get in there over the winter and eat and ruin the comb, but maybe that isn't that big of a problem? Is there much of a benefit to reducing their supers when they don't need the extra space? It doesn't get too cold up there so not sure.