Temperature was about 50°F and windy.
My main concern at my Ada apiary was the two surviving top bar hives. I did add some suger cakes to the end of the hives hoping the bees could find them if it warmed up enough. Turns out, the bees had plenty of stores along to tops of the combs.
My last inspection was Feb. 18, 2012. Both top bar hives had what sounded like a large population of bees.
This inspection was a disappointment. The first hive had wired board partially swinging towards the back of the hive. The eyelet had been pulled out and the board was then allowed to swing free. This revealed what I had hoped to avoid. A critter had made a snack of the hive. Below is a photo looking into the hive from the top. You can see the comb has been scooped away. The gap at the bottom of the hive can also be seen where the board has come loose.
The bees are all dead with plenty of honey remaining. This hive most likely would have made it if the bottom had not been detached.
The other top bar hive that was alive at the time of my last inspection still had bees inside. Sadly, at the last inspection, there were 2lbs or so of dead bees on the bottom of the hive. The dead bees on the bottom also included brood.
During this inspection I could still hear bees in the hive. I opened it up and started going through the combs. Several were empty as they never go filled last year. However, the further I got into the hive, the more honey I found in the top 1/2 or more of each comb. I found several sections of dead bees that had formed very small clusters of less than 20 bees. I could still hear bees, but I had not come to them yet. Finally, I came to the brood section of the hive, no honey. The bees that had died before most likely either got wet or starved to death, or both. Soon, a small group of bees came out for a visit. There are only a handful of bees left. I would estimate the cluster to be smaller than a baseball. I did not see a queen, and the bees only occupied a small section of the comb. Due to the brittleness of the comb, I was not able to separate the two bars the bees were between. I also did not want to remove the combs with the bees as it was very windy. I did check from the other end to see what was going on on that end, nothing. I found a comb with dead brood that had been partially eaten by something. I am guessing a mouse had chewed up things a bit and soon got chased away by the bees (when the population was higher). I moved the combs of honey closer to the small cluster and the bees immediately started eating it. They were starving to death.
I can only hope there is a queen still in the hive that can make it until it warms up. If she is there, I plan to add a few more bees from a package (I will cage her for a bit to allow them to get use to her first). I may also installer her into a nuc box and split up a couple pounds of bees from some packages I am getting. This queen was a daughter from a swarm. They were very nice bees to work with. Sad to see them go this way.
One reason I do not like top bar hives is that the bees may not move sideways to get more honey. I had 3 top bar hives overwinter and do well last year. However, one died this winter, and the other has that small baseball sized cluster in it. A top bar spit I made died as well (the one the critter got). Of the three langstroth hives I had going into winter, all three as still alive.
I also checked on my top bar hive in Arlington, Ohio. This hive is alive and kicking. I did had a quart jar of honey to the feeder I have in the hive. This one is 4 foot long and has a open end for me to add a boardman feeder to the follower board. This hive had a mouse build a nest on the top bars and has made of mess of things. The feeder area is also messy as I did not install bars over that open end and I should have. This hive will need some major cleaning and replacement of top bars on the damaged ends. I only hope there is no brood in those areas when the time comes. I also plan to relocated the colony into a langstroth hive this year if time and my attempted method of transfer works.