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Discussion Starter #1
I've noticed that people feel differently about this practice. I opened my hive (two deeps) last week when it hit 60 degrees. There were a few hundred bees taking care of three small patches of brood in the top box. Plenty of frames full of honey up top. I didn't see the queen, but the capped brood and larvae was good enough for me. It seemed to me like WAY too few bees, however, I didn't remove the top box to get a better look at the bottom box. Maybe I shouldn't assume anything, but if the queen has been laying in the top box, she's probably not spending much time in the bottom box, right? Especially if night time temps are still dropping into the 20's or 30's? She wouldn't spread the brood between two boxes with such a small cluster.

My question is, do I need to trade the two boxes? Will they eventually work their way down over the next few months anyway? Are there obvious benefits to doing this or is it just one of those things that people do because their mentor did it?
 

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You need to take a look at what is going on in the bottom box. Are there a lot of bees on stores? or like mine, all drawn comb frames, empty.

Because virtually all bees were in the top box, and the bottom was empty drawn comb, I switched boxes, and started feeding sugar water when temps were 50 or above.

Phil
 

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Hopefully that small group of bees are not all there is. I would take a look downstairs but I doubt that there is anything going on. It is really hard to get a weak colony ramping back up. I would look hard for the queen or any eggs or open larvae. If they are there, there is hope. If this is your only colony, you have limited options. First thing to do is close the entrance to one that two bees can defend so this weakling doesn't get robbed out by neighbors. I would also store the lower box if it is devoid of bees. Good luck.
 

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Seems from your description that all of the bees are in the top box. I would not rotate boxes at this time. If anything I would remove the bottom box. Otherwise, leave them be until they need room, then rotate.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies. This is my first year overwintering bees so I'm not exactly sure what my hive should be looking like at this point. Based on the replies so far, it seems like I should be seeing more bees than I am. However, since I have open and capped brood as of Saturday, it appears my queen is still alive and doing well. Does this mean that my numbers will take longer than average to grow? Can I be doing anything at this point to help them? They have at least three frames full of honey on each side of the three frames containing brood.
 
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