We went down to check the hives this past weekend. I never got them wrapped for the winter, so we thought, since it was very warm - in the 50s, we would wrap them now. Armed with tar paper, and our stapler, we headed out. Better late than never.
I put my ear up to the Flower Hive - thought I felt some warmth and heard buzzing, but wasn't positive. So my husband knocked on the hive. The girls were definitely home and NOT pleased with the disturbance! Over a dozen bees flew out and started checking us out. This was wonderful to see.
We checked the Blue Hive in the same way - nothing. Ear to top hive opening, I had my husband bang on it. Rather than a bee in my ear, I got nothing. We decided to take a quick peek into the hive. Prying off the top, which had been glued shut with propolis, we saw one dead bee, and nothing else. Maybe they were in the bottom box? We finally got the top pried off of the bottom hive body and saw - nothing. There was plenty of capped honey, both boxes were good and heavy, but no bees. They had absconded (taken off with the queen to a new location). So I think we have now experienced just about all major bee crises (with the exception of the dreaded disease, American Foul Brood - which I hope never to experience as it means you must burn EVERYTHING - hives, bees, the works). So we have one hive that we hope will make it to the Spring, and an empty hive. Are the powers that be trying to tell me I should only have one hive? Nah!
On a related note, I made " bees wax lotion bars" this year. Very nice. Soothing to dry skin, but not messy. Put it on your hands before going to bed and they are so soft in the morning. YUM!