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Hi all,
We had a real nice day on Monday, went to see the hives again, All four were flying. It was warm enough for my first inspection, all the hives are two deeps. Although they looked like they were in good shape from the outside three are week from the winter. The strange fact is the hive that was the weakest going into the winter is now the strongest colony. So, the three week hives all had a a grouping of bees around the size of a extra large soft ball. I know they all had more bees then that due to the fact it was around 70 and there were a bunch of bees flying. All three hives still have very good stores, I would guess an average of 4-5 frames of capped honey.
Here is what I am thinking, removing the top super, taking the honey stores and placing them on either side of the brood chamber so that they do not have to heat and take care of the all the space of two supers. We will still get some cold weather her in Oklahoma and I think it will be easier on them.
I am not new to bee keeping and have done this in the past with spring week colonies, but it is always good to receive advice from others who may have a better idea. Like all of us, I would like to have them build up as fast as possible
 

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I suppose it would be a good idea too to protect the combs from SHB. I don't have that to worry about but breaking them down to singles is what I would do. Just don't let them run out of room if a spring flow breaks out. Ground is still frozen hard as a brick here so no flow will be breaking out for a while.
 

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I had 3 week hives with less bees than yours. I combined all 3 into one and caged 1 queen leaving
2 queens to run the barrel hive now. This will help to strengthen the weak colony with more bees after
the combine. They are building up fast now that everything is blooming. One hive really expanding like crazy.
But I lost the caged queen though. Better to save 2 than losing all 3 when they are so weak coming out of winter here.
 

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Although they looked like they were in good shape from the outside three are week from the winter.
I would love to know how you tell it was winter that made them weak? Did they run low on stores? If you combine how do you tell which queen is worth saving?
If I were you, I would leave the colonies alone until spring or until the strong hive builds up to where you can rob resources for the ones that make it until spring. The logic is the ones that don't make it are the ones you don't want. Let nature decide which colonies are best.
 

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I would leave them alone. They put the honey where they wanted it. They know where it is. They only heat the cluster, not the entire hive. Disturbing their set-up is more likey to stress them and cause extra work.
 
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