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If they were strong colonies, 3-4 cups does not seem too bad to me. I would not disturb them though. I have an upper entrance so if lots of bees pile up at the bottom, they can get out the top.

I keep the landing board clean of dead bees. So everytime I take a walk through the apiary in winter I can tell which hives are still alive and active. If I see no new dead bees on the landing board I worry that maybe this hive is dead. I've noticed the strongest colonies always have the most new dead bees out on the landing board.
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