I took off work early today to come home and look at the bees. And I can tell ya' even with my limited experience, it ain't lookin' good. Very small population (not enough to keep warm over winter) and very little honey. I moved things around best I could to make things available, but I was trying to work fast and I didn't have much to work with... I have to call my bee mentor (who, btw, rocks). One has to work relatively quickly this time of year as there are many marauding bees about who, once the hive is open, try to go in and ransack it. Robber bees, they are. And they were definitely out today. You can tell because the bees from the hive will wrestle with them when they try to enter. I blocked up a big part of the entry way so they would have less to defend, and I am hoping that helps them get through this period before it gets cold enough that everyone quits flying.
I think the best course of action for me is to go ahead and cut and run. Take the honey that is there in the super and kiss this off as a bad first year. (I am getting a consult from the Bee Mentor though to be sure I am on the right track.) If there is any chance of them surviving with the honey super, I will leave it, but I don't think they will even be able to get there, I think they will freeze first because the population is too low to keep the heat up. And NO, I am not going to get them an electric blanket. I am a bleeding heart, and I am not really ok with taking all the honey and leaving them, but the other alternatives are 1. hope for a miracle 2. lose the bees AND all the honey (something will come into the hive in winter and get the honey, like mice or other critters if there is nothing in there.) So I am trying to be pragmatic and think like a farmer. This is practice for the Future Urban Farm, that will indeed tax my bleeding heart animal lover self.
This bee thing is tough. Just twiddling my thumbs while I wait for them to freeze or starve. If I had more experience, I would have caught this sooner and I maybe I could have gotten them more food in time for them to store up. Though they weren't really taking this food all that well... who knows?